I'm always looking for Easter with anticipation.... It's a great time of the year and more so there are few dishes/foods that we would enjoy only around that time. My "affair" with the cross hot buns is like the one with the mince pies during Christmas - I just love them and can't get enough of them! It's the first time ever tho that I was able to try the home made version, and as with everything - way better than the shop bought one! Those little sticky buns are sweet and just loaded with sultanas, mixed peel and cinnamon - oh sooooo good! :) I admit that there's a bit of work involved in making them, but nothing too complicated, and the result is well worth it!!!
"A hot cross bun is a spiced sweet bun made with currants or raisins and marked with a cross on the top, traditionally eaten on Good Friday. In many historically Christian countries, buns are traditionally eaten hot or toasted during Lent, beginning with the evening of Mardi Gras (the evening before Ash Wednesday) through Good Friday, with the cross standing as a symbol of the Crucifixion. English folklore includes many superstitions surrounding hot cross buns. One of them says that buns baked and served on Good Friday will not spoil or mold during the subsequent year. Another encourages keeping such a bun for medicinal purposes. A piece of it given to someone who is ill is said to help them recover. Sharing a hot cross bun with another is supposed to ensure friendship throughout the coming year, particularly if "Half for you and half for me, Between us two shall goodwill be" is said at the time. Because there is a cross on the buns, some say they should be kissed before being eaten. If taken on a sea voyage, hot cross buns are said to protect against shipwreck. If hung in the kitchen, they are said to protect against fires and ensure that all breads turn out perfectly. The hanging bun is replaced each year." - by Wikipedia.org
How to make it...
For the buns:
- 120 ml warm full fat milk
- 40 g unsalted butter
- 500 g strong bread flour
- 10 g salt
- 75 g caster sugar
- 10 g instant yeast
- 2 eggs , beaten
- 120 ml cool water
- 150 g sultanas
- 80 g chopped mixed peel
- zest of 2 oranges
- 1 apple , peeled, cored and finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
For the cross:
- 75 g plain flour
- 75 ml water
For the glaze:
- 75 g apricot jam
Put the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the salt and sugar to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the butter, eggs, milk and half the water and turn the mixture round with your fingers. Continue to add the water, a little at a time, until you've picked up all the flour from the sides of the bowl. you may not need to add all the water, or you may need to add a little more - you want dough that is soft, but not soggy. Use the mixture to clean the inside of the bowl and keep going until the mixture forms a rough dough.
Tip on to a lightly floured surface and knead by holding the dough with one hand and stretching it with the heal of the other hand, then folding it back on itself. Repeat for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size and a finger pressed into it leaves a dent.
Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and scatter in the sultanas, mixed peel, orange zest, apple and cinnamon. Knead into the dough, making sure everything is well distributed. Leave to rise for 1 hour more, or until doubled in size, again covered by some well-oiled cling film to stop the dough getting a crust.
Divide the dough into 12 even pieces. Roll each piece into a smooth ball on a lightly floured work surface. Arrange the buns on one or two baking trays lined with parchment, leaving enough space for the dough to expand. Cover with more oiled cling film, or a clean tea towel, then set aside to prove for 1 hour more.
Heat oven to 220 C. Mix the flour with about 5 tablespoons water to make the paste for the cross - add the water 1 tablespoon at a time, so you add just enough for a thick paste. Spoon into a piping bag with a small nozzle. Pipe a line along each row of buns, then repeat in the other direction to create crosses. Bake for 20 minutes on the middle shelf of the oven, until golden brown.
Gently heat the apricot jam to melt, then sieve to get rid of any chunks. While the jam is still warm, brush over the top of the warm buns and leave to cool.
This recipe comes from a great book by Paul Hollywood "How to bake".