I must confess that I am a Hot-Cross-Bun-Baking virgin. I have always lacked both the patience (and the virtue) to give credit to anything that will take 3 whole attempts to rise. Anyway, I was amazed to discover that Hot Cross Buns are actually pretty damn easy and oh-so-utterly scrumptious at the same time, especially toasted and dripping (virtuously ofcourse) in butter.
I was also shocked and appalled to realise how few of you actually like Hot Cross Buns! I reckon this is for the most part because shop bought ones both look and taste as though you have taken a slice of Hovis in your hand, squished it into a ball and added some raisins. About as appetising as chewing on someone’s abandoned sofa that’s been left out in the rain to gather mildew. Don’t. Even. Bother.
This recipe is a mash-up of both Paul Hollywood’s and Nigella’s. I had the pretty bright idea that, as their mixed DNA would undoubtedly make epic babies, um… surely their Hot Cross Bun recipes would do the same…?
- 300ml milk
- 6 cardamom pods
- 6 cloves
- 50g butter
- 500g strong bread flour
- 1tsp salt
- 75g caster sugar
- 1tbsp vegetable oil (or other flavourless)
- 7g sachet fast-action yeast
- 1 egg, beaten
- 75g raisins
- 50g dried cranberries
- zest 1 orange
- 1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped finely
- 1tsp cinnamon
- 75g plain flour (for the cross)
- 2tbsp apricot jam (for the glaze)
Bring the milk gently to the boil with the cardamom pods and the cloves. The smell of this ALONE should be enough to leave your whole house feeling religious. Add the butter and leave it to cool to hand temperature. In a bowl, mix the flour, salt, sugar and yeast and make a well in the center. Pour into this the melted butter and milk and recreate all those happy school science memories involving volcanoes. Add the egg and mix together well with a wooden spoon. Then you’re going to need to get your hands dirty and squish it all together until you have a soft, sticky dough.
Tip it onto a floured worktop and give it a good knead for about five minutes, always keeping in mind the helpful phrase about the devil and idle hands. After that put it in an lightly oiled bowl and cover (but don’t wrap) with oiled clingfilm. Leave to rise for 1 hour. Time to get prayin’ while your dough gets a risin’.
I wish I had taken a ‘before’ shot because this is definitely the bigger, meaner older brother to what I initially put in the bowl. I swear this guy is a mutant in comparison.
While it’s still in the bowl tip in the cranberries, raisins, apples, zest and cinammon and squidge it all about so the fruit is evenly distributed. Put the cling film over again and leave it to rise for another hour.
Separate the dough into about 15 pieces and roll them each into a ball. Pop them on a baking tray (or 2) lined with baking paper with enough room between them for them to grow and leave them (I know, I know) covered with clingfilm or a clean tea towel for another hour. Remember, patience is a virtue!
Now comes the fun bit! Heat the oven to 200’C. Mix the plain flour with water about a tbsp at a time until you get a thick batter. Pour it into a little zip-lock bag (or piping bag if you have one) cut a little snip out of one corner and use this to squeeze crosses onto your little beauties.
Put them in the oven for about 15-20 mins until they are golden-brown and irresistible looking.
Heat the apricot jam in a saucepan until it’s lovely and melt-y and then brush it all over your buns and leave them to cool.
Look at them! They’re practically glowing! It’s like what you keep telling your pregnant friends except in this case it’s actually true! Tell me that these aren’t completely delicious. Guaranteed to make a convert of even the most hardened Hot Cross Bun hater.
Happy Easter everybody! Cook like… Bunnies?