You can tell that spring is in the air; colourful daffodils and crocuses peeking through the flowerbeds, blossom beginning to cover the trees, bumblebees and butterflies taking flight, fluffy lambs playfully running in the fields, and supermarkets stacking their shelves with hoards of chocolate eggs and hot cross buns!
Nothing beats a warm toasted hot cross bun topped with melted butter to get you started on a crisp spring morning, or to accompany your afternoon tea… or any time of the day for that matter! But rather than buying your next supply from your local supermarket, why not try making your own, especially if you’ve got a bit of extra time on your hands this year because of the current lockdown restrictions. It’s also a fun and rewarding way to keep the kids entertained and a guarantee of at least 5 minutes of peace and quiet after when you can all sit down together to enjoy your delicious freshly-baked buns.
If you want a change from the traditional raisins and sultanas, we’ve got some alternative suggestions at the end of the recipe, or you can get creative and experiment with whatever fillings and flavours take your fancy.
For some more ideas of fun things to do with your family this Easter, be sure to check out our recent article.
Ingredients (Makes 12 Buns)
- 500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 50g caster sugar
- 1x 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
- 50g butter
- 225ml milk
- 2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp mixed spice
- ½ tsp salt
- oil, for greasing
- 150g seedless raisins or sultanas
- 75g mixed peel
For the crosses and glaze
- 100g plain flour
- 3 tbsp orange marmalade or apricot jam, for glazing
Pour the milk into a small pan and gently heat until just below boiling. Add the butter to the milk and stir until it melts. Leave to cool for 5 minutes, then stir in the 2 beaten eggs.
Sift the bread flour, caster sugar, yeast, cinnamon, mixed spice and salt into a large bowl and stir. Make a well in the centre, then pour in the milk mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon until you have a slightly sticky dough.
Tip the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, or until soft, shiny and elastic. Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a clean cloth or cling film. Leave to prove in a warm place for 1 hour, or until it has doubled in size.
Add the raisins and mixed peel into the bowl and knead into the dough ensuring everything is well distributed. Cover again with the cloth or cling film and leave to prove for another hour or until doubled in size.
Tip out onto a lightly floured surface, flatten slightly and divide the dough into 12 pieces. Roll each into a smooth ball.
Place the dough balls on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper, leaving a 3-5cm gap between each one. Cover with a tea towel and leave to prove for another hour.
Preheat the oven to gas 6, 200°C, fan 180°C.
To Make the Crosses
Mix the plain flour with about 6 tbsp water – add the water 1 tbsp at a time, so you add just enough until you have a thick paste. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a small nozzle. Pipe a cross onto each bun.
Bake for 20 mins on the middle shelf until golden brown.
To Make the Glaze
Gently heat the marmalade/jam in a small pan to to melt, then sieve to remove any shreds or chunks. Brush the warm glaze over the top of each bun and then leave to cool.
You don’t just have to stick to raisins and mixed peel, you can alternatively add a variety of other fruit including dried apricots, dried cranberries, glacé cherries, blueberries, chopped fresh apple, or orange zest for a citrusy twist. Chopped nuts such as pecans, macadamias or toasted almonds can also be added.
If you still haven’t had enough of a chocolate fix after all your Easter eggs, try making chocolate hot cross buns by adding 50g of cocoa powder in with the flour and using 200g of chocolate chips or chopped chocolate bars.