Hot cross buns made on Good Friday are believed to stay fresh for the whole year! Is it true, well I haven’t got a clue. You see these buns never last longer than 2 days in our household. We love this lightly spiced fruit filled bread . The centuries of history , religion and superstition attached to these are intriguing as well. Whether you believe the stories or not these are perfect with a cup of coffee / tea .
Traditionally these are made with currants or raisins . My personal favorite is currants. But almost any dried fruit will work equally well. The cross on top is made with sugar icing or pastry dough or a flour and water paste. The cross does not alter the taste, unless you choose to cover half the bun with sugar paste! But that is entirely up to you.
Coming to the recipe, it is a standard enriched sweet dough recipe. We start by warming half the required quantity of milk to 110°F or just warm to touch. Mix a little sugar and yeast let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes . In a large mixing bowl mix the flour, spices, sugar and salt. Make a well in the middle of the flour mix and pour the yeast liquid in there . Separate one egg into white and yolk, reserve the egg white. Add the yolk and the remaining egg to the yeast mixture . Gently mix everything together with a spatula, or by hand or using a mixer set on low . Once the egg is mixed in, and the softened butter to the flour and knead gently while adding enough of the remaining milk until the dough comes together as a soft mass . Knead for 7 to 10 minutes until dough feels very soft pliable . Form into a ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl . Cover and let it rise in a warm place for 1 to 1.5 hours or until doubled .
Add the dried fruit to the risen dough , and knead a few times to incorporate the fruits evenly . Divide the dough into 12 equal sized portions and form into balls. Arrange them side by side on a baking dish . Leave a little space between the balls so they can expand properly . Cover and let it rise till almost doubled – about 30 minutes . These buns fit perfectly in a 11 X 9 tin , but use any you have in hand .
Mix the reserved egg white with a teaspoon of water to make an egg wash . Brush the tops of the buns with the egg wash. If making a flour cross , make a thick paste with the ingredients for marking the cross. Use a spoon to to make a cross on top of the buns using the paste . Transfer to a preheated oven and bake at 375 for 20 to 25 minutes. The buns above are made withe flour cross .
Cool in pan for 10 minutes , transfer to wire rack and cool completely. If making icing sugar cross , mix the icing sugar , vanilla essence and enough water/milk/lemon juice to form a thick paste. Pour the icing into a piping bag and pipe the crosses over the cooled buns. The crosses above are made with icing sugar.
- For an interesting variation add chocolate chips instead of currants .
- The volume measurements provided are only approximate . If possible weigh the ingredients .
AP Flour/ Bread Flour - 350 gms (3 C)
Yeast - 8 gms (1 tbsp or I pkt )
Salt - 7 gms (11/4 Tsp)
Eggs - 2 (1 separated)
Milk - 180 gms (3/4 C)
Butter - 45 gms (3 Tbsp )
Sugar - 40 gms (3 Tbsp)
Cinnamon - 1/2 Tsp
Nutmeg - 1/4 tsp
Cloves - 1/4 tsp
Ginger - 1/4 Tsp
Dried Fruit - 45 gms (1/2 C)
Mixed Peel - 2 Tbsp (optional)
For Flour Cross
Flour - 2 Tbsp
Sugar - 1 Tbsp
Water - 1 to 2 Tbsp
For Icing Cross
Icing Sugar - 1/2 C
Vanilla Extract- 1 to 2 drops
Water/Milk/Lemon Juice - 1 to 2 Tbsp
Warm 3/4 C milk to 110°F or just warm to touch . Mix half of the milk with 1 teaspoon sugar and sprinkle the yeast on top to activate . Set aside for 5 to 10 minutes .
Take the flour in a large mixing bowl add the spice powders, sugar and salt . Mix well. Make a well in the center and pour the activated yeast mix followed by one egg and and one yolk . Reserve the extra egg white .Using a wooden spoon break the egg into the yeast mixture.
Add the softened butter and stir everything together , slowly adding the enough of the remaining milk till all the flour comes together in a wet mass. Let it rest for 10 minutes .
Knead gently for 5 to 10 minutes till the dough becomes smooth and pliable .Form into a smooth ball. Transfer to an oiled bowl cover and let rise till doubled , about 1 to 1.5 hours.
Lightly oil a 11" X 9" tray or line the tin you are using with parchment paper.Punch down the dough . Add the dry fruits and citrus (if using) and knead gently for a few times to incorporate evenly .Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and form into balls .Arrange the balls in the tray leaving enough space (about 1/2") between them to expand .Cover and let rise till almost doubled - about 30 minutes .
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Keep the oven rack in the middle .Mix the reserved egg white with 1 tsp water to make egg wash .Dip a pastry brush in the egg wash and generously brush the tops of the buns.
If making a flour cross, mix the ingredients for the cross together into a thick paste .Make a cross on the top of the buns with the flour paste .
Transfer the buns to the oven and bake to 20 to 25 minutes until the tops are browned nicely .Cool in pan for 5 minutes .Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
If making the icing cross, Mix the the icing sugar and vanilla extract together. Add the chosen liquid little by little to the icing sugar to make a thick paste. Transfer the paste to a piping bag and pipe the crosses over the cooled buns.
The most common dry fruits used are raisins and currants. Other options are dried apricots, cherries, cranberries, blueberries or a combination of these.
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For a whole wheat loaded version try this recipe.
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