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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Recipe: Hot cross buns

There's something so satisfying about baking with yeast. The transformation of yeast and flour into something alive and growing is magical indeed, and there's a certain empowering pleasure in transforming a warm and fermenting blob of grey into great big pillows of fluffy bread that looks and smells fantastic.

Hot cross buns are always a crowd favourite and homemade versions taste like no other. Fresh from the oven, these fragrant golden-crusted beauties have a fluffy softness that is both strong and yielding. Unlike many of the commercial varieties, there is no sticky doughiness to these buns, and because the yeast has had plenty of time to prove, I find there's no swollen heaviness in the stomach either.

Best of all, there's the satisfaction of presenting something truly handmade to the ones you love. That is, if you don't scoff the entire lot yourself!

In the interim I'm off on a week's break with little or no internet access (hello internet withdrawal tetchiness! how will I survive?!?).

Hope you have a lovely Easter and see you all back here soon :)

Hot Cross Buns
Makes 12

1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
1/2 cup caster sugar
4 1/2 cups plain flour, sifted
3 teaspoons mixed spice
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
60g butter, melted
1 egg
1 cup sultanas
1/2 cup raisins
1/3 cup candied mixed peel (optional)

Combined the yeast, milk and 2 teaspoons of the sugar in a large bowl and set aside for five minutes. Small bubbles in the mixture will indicate that the yeast is now active.

Add the flour, mixed spice, cinnamon, butter, egg, sultanas, raisins, mixed peel and remaining sugar to the yeast mixture. Use a butter knife or metal spoon to bring the ingredients together, then knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 8-10 minutes until the dough feels smooth and elastic (alternatively use dough hooks in an electric mixer).

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl (I use cooking spray), cover with plastic film or a tea towel, and place in a warm draught-free area to prove for 1-2 hours or until dough doubles in size.

When the dough has doubled, make a rough sausage shape and divide into 12 pieces.

Grease and line a 23cm square cake tin and line with baking paper. Gently shape your dough pieces into squarish buns and place in the tin. Cover with plastic film or a tea towel and allow to prove again in a warm spot for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190C.

To make the crosses
1/2 cup plain flour
1/3 cup cold water

Slowly add the water to the flour, stopping when you have reached a thick paste. Use a piping bag (or a ziplock/strong plastic bag with a corner snipped off) to pipe crosses onto the buns.

Bake at 190C for 25-35 minutes or until they golden brown and cooked through. When they're ready, the buns will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

To make the glaze
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons water
1 teaspoon powdered gelatine

Combine the sugar and water into a small saucepan and stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. In a small bowl, pour in 1 tablespoon cold water and then sprinkle over the gelatine to let it soften. Add the gelatine mixture to the sugar water and cook for a minute or two until thickened. Allow to cool slightly.

Brush the warm glaze over the buns as soon as they come out of the oven. The glaze will take a few minutes to set.

Serve warm with butter.

Because there are no preservatives, the buns tend to dry out after a day or two. To refresh and soften them, simply flick them sparsely with a little water before microwaving for 20-40 seconds.

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Hot cross buns (2006)
21 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 4/09/2009 12:29:00 am


  • At 4/09/2009 7:06 am, Blogger Chef Jeena said…

    I love the way you describe the dough turning into a gorgeous hot cross bun. :-)

  • At 4/09/2009 8:58 am, Blogger Y said…

    Looks so delicious, Helen.

    Hope you have a great Easter break!

  • At 4/09/2009 9:56 am, Anonymous Arwen from Hoglet K said…

    These buns sounds lovely fresh out of the oven. Have a great holiday Helen!

  • At 4/09/2009 10:03 am, Anonymous shez said…

    Ahh! light and fluffy win :)

    I'm planning on making a batch tomorrow to celebrate. Only problem being that there are so. many. different. recipes o_O

  • At 4/09/2009 11:13 am, Blogger Betty @ The Hungry Girl said…

    i want one!
    good luck without internet for a whole week ;)

  • At 4/09/2009 12:40 pm, Anonymous Anita said…

    Yay! Easter is here and plenty of hot cross buns to go around. Yours look great!

  • At 4/09/2009 2:41 pm, Anonymous Veruca Salt said…

    They look delicious, with or without lashings of butter.

    Happy Easter and give Frysie a cuddle from me.

  • At 4/09/2009 4:14 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Mmmm these look and sound better than easter eggs ^^! Though I would prefer choc chips rather than raisins hee hee

  • At 4/09/2009 4:52 pm, Blogger OohLookBel said…

    Every year, I think I will make hot cross buns. Never do, because I know they'll never turn out as well as other people's, ie. like yours. Nice!

  • At 4/09/2009 7:35 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    I posted on homemade hot cross buns today as well - our recipes are quite similar although I found my yeast did not take with luke warm milk and it had to be piping hot. Anyway yours look delicious and I can vouch for the fact that mine were... now for the easter eggs.

  • At 4/10/2009 9:04 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    damn those look good.

    happy easter!!

    Im gonna have to go to bakers delight for mine. lol (no talent here... also no oven)

  • At 4/10/2009 9:54 am, Anonymous Bri said…

    Your recipe looks so tasty and is so well written that I decided I had to make some! The dough is rising right now *taps fingers impatiently* :)

  • At 4/10/2009 2:19 pm, Anonymous Yas said…

    Very timely subject :) I wish I have read this before I had bought a bag of hot cross buns!

    Have an awesome easter! (Oh god I wouldn't survive without internet.)

  • At 4/11/2009 9:38 am, Anonymous Howard said…

    Hope you have a good break! Interwebs withdraw symptoms really sucks (I am a victim)

  • At 4/11/2009 10:59 am, Anonymous Steph said…

    I agree, you can't beat homemade hcbs. Yours look a million times better than the supermarket ones that are all dense and stringy, ew!

  • At 4/12/2009 11:46 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    There is a Canadian kitchen smelling of those buns tonite. They are very good but mine rose a bit too much, to the point where they became too compact and cannot be pulled apart anymore.

  • At 4/13/2009 7:25 am, Blogger Rob Mitchell said…

    Made these...mine turned out slightly heavy? No salt in the recipe, it's needed. Too much fruit, 1/2 falls out in the Kneading. Make 1/2 the glaze in gredients.

  • At 4/15/2009 8:34 pm, Anonymous Simon said…

    Mmm... These must be so good when they're fresh out of the oven!

    I've found that warmed and diluted jams work well for glazing these sorts of things, if a flavoured glaze is what you're after.

    Have you managed ok with access to the Internet? Don't have a case of the shakes? :)

  • At 4/16/2009 7:41 am, Blogger How To Eat A Cupcake said…

    Yum! They look delicious!

  • At 4/16/2009 8:57 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Jeena - lol. There's always a bit of childlike wonder when it comes to baking!

    Hi Y - They were delicious indeed and thanks, I did :)

    Hi Arwen - Nothing beats freshly baked goodies straight from the oven, and the holiday was great. Such a treat to have evenings of pure relaxation!

    Hi Shez - How did your hot cross buns go? I agree, so many recipes out there!

    Hi Betty - lol. I survived! Was easier than I expected although I did twitch when I wondered what was happening on twitter. lol

    Hi Anita - Thanks and I agree, hot cross buns are the highlight of Easter.

    Hi Veruca Salt - How did your Easter buns go? And lol, he loves your packages. Apparently he asks if there's any mail for him now.

    Hi FFichiban - I got my first Easter egg the other day. And ahhh I'm a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to Easter buns. How can you beat the taste of cinnamon with lots of fruit!

    Hi Belle - Don't admit defeat before you've even started! I find working with yeast so rewarding now. I requires a bit of time commitment but there's such a ridiculous sense of pride when you pull them out of the oven. Do it :)

    Hi Gourmet Chick - I've found most recipes are quite similar. I tend to adapt a few to suit my own tastes. I always worry about killing my yeast but glad yours like the warmer temperature!

    Hi Jessika - No oven is a very good excuse for buying Easter buns!

    Hi Bri - How did they turn out? Hope there were equally delicious.

    Hi Yas - lol. It was weird at first but then I quickly got used to chilling in the pool, the sauna or on the lounge. lol. Hope you had a great Easter too :)

    Hi Howard - lol. It's quite bizarre isn't it how addicted we are. I found it quite liberating though. Now it's back to the grindstone. haha

    Hi Steph - Thanks. There's always some relief when you take that first delicious bite.

    Hi Anon - I did find mine ran out of room too. I might use a larger tin next time?

    Hi Rob - I have noticed that some recipes use salt and others don't. I didn't think it was noticeable in its absence but maybe I'll add some next time? I do like fruity buns and whilst it did seem like quite a lot, I found the fruit did hold after a few minutes after kneading.

    I agree - I did have a lot of glaze leftover. I'll adjust the recipe so thanks for the feedback and reminder.

    Hi Simon - Good idea. I know a lot of fruit tarts use warm apricot jam as a glaze. And no I didn't get the shakes :)

    Hi How to eat a cupcake - Thanks, and they were :)

  • At 4/17/2009 10:59 am, Blogger bri said…

    They were really delicious, thanks :) I ended up using cranberries as I discovered at the last minute that I was out of sultanas! This substitution ended up being very tasty though.
    They smelled so very very good while the dough was rising.

    I agree about the glaze amount though - I think I only used a quarter of what was made.


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