I am off to spend the rest of the school holidays in Cornwall, which involves eating lots of hot cross buns, Cornish saffron buns, very good ice cream and as much treacle tart and clotted cream as possible. I love this time of year. Flowers, fruits and vegetables budding, growing and flourishing. Everything is awesome! Cornish purple sprouting broccoli, creamy potatoes and excellent spring lamb will no doubt be present at Easter Sunday lunch.
I have made several batches of hot cross buns over the last couple of years with varying success. My Giant Hot Cross Bun worked well but I have made many buns where the dough has simply not risen, just sat in a flat lump in a bowl for hours. It is all down to the milk temperature. I either overheat or under heat it but I think I might have found a solution.
Instead of bringing the milk up to boiling point and melting the butter in it, I warm the milk up in the microwave for thirty seconds and it is perfect every time. For me, this method works and I am sticking with it. The butter, I rub into the flour as you would for making pastry. I read about that idea here, a fine discovery.
My other tip would be to use less flour. I found I had been making a huge batch of dough, buns too large to eat and taking too long to cook so I decided to cut back on quantities and it seems to work. I use 250g of bread flour and this gives me eight small yet beautifully formed buns that cook in fifteen minutes.
Finally I have played with the flavours. Lemon and fresh Rosemary instead of the spices and white chocolate chips replace half of the dried mixed fruit. Is this still a hot cross bun? In my mind it is. Yet it is a fresher, herbier more spring like interpretation. I hope you agree. And they have crosses. Could not forego the crosses.
I am entering my Easter buns into a few challenges this month:
- -250g strong white flour,
- -1tsp fast action yeast,
- -25g unsalted butter,
- -Pinch of salt,
- -25g caster sugar,
- -Zest of 1 lemon,
- -1tbsp freshly chopped Rosemary,
- -50g mixed dried fruit,
- -50g white chocolate chips,
- -100ml whole milk,
- -2 medium eggs (One egg for the hot cross buns and one egg for glazing the buns).
- For the Crosses:)
- -3tbsp flour
- -3or4tbsp water
- Mix the two together to form a thick paste which will be used to make the crosses on the buns.
- For the sugar glaze:)
- 1tbsp caster sugar,
- 1tbsp hot water,
- Mix the two together and glaze the buns with the sugary mixture as soon as they come out of the oven.
- 1. Weigh the flour,salt, yeast, sugar and butter into a mixing bowl,
- 2. Using your fingertips rub the flour and the butter together until the mixture forms breadcrumbs,
- 3. Warm the milk in the microwave for 30 seconds until it is warm but not hot then whisk in the egg,
- 4. Add the lemon zest, dried fruit, chocolate chips and Rosemary to the flour mixture then make a well in the centre and pour in the milk and egg mix,
- 5. Stir the mixture together using a fork until it comes together into a wet and sticky ball of dough,
- 6. Cover the dough with a tea towel and leave it to rest for 10 minutes,
- 7. After 10 minutes, roll the dough into a long sausage shape then divide this up into 8 equal sized balls of dough,
- 8. Shape the dough into a bun until it is smooth then place onto the lined baking tray and continue to make the the rest of the buns, placing them all on the same tray fairly close together,
- 9. Cover the buns with a tea towel and leave them to prove for 1 hour,
- 10. After an hour, pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees and brush the buns with a beaten egg then pipe on the flour & water mixture using a piping bag to form the crosses,
- 11. Bake the buns in the oven for 15 minutes then glaze with the sugar & water mix and leave to cool on a wire rack.
- The buns are best eaten on the day they are made but they can be toasted the following day or frozen for a later date.