Soft, sticky and perfectly spiced, you can’t beat homemade hot cross buns. Ready in just a few hours and delicious hot or cold.
I love hot cross buns. I love eating them and I love making them. I find making any sort of dough really relaxing so in the run up to Easter I spend many a Sunday afternoon kneading hot cross bun dough whilst listening to the radio. I’ve recently taken to listening to Radio 4 which I think is further confirmation that I am quite possibly the most middle-aged 26 year old ever. I digress. I’m also one of those people that as soon as hot cross buns hit the supermarket shelves in the days after Christmas I can’t resist stocking up on them, though they’re no patch on these homemade ones.
Hot Cross Buns
For the Buns
- 40 g unsalted butter melted
- 300 ml whole milk
- 500 g strong white flour plus extra for dusting
- 75 g caster sugar
- 3 tsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 lemon zest and ribbons
- 1 orange zest and ribbons
- 10 g salt
- 10 g fast-acting dried yeast
- 1 large egg beaten
- 250 g mixed dried fruit
For the Crosses
- 80 g plain flour
- 85 ml water
For the Glaze
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp runny honey
- 1 orange juice
- Start by melting the butter in a small saucepan and warming the milk, in a separate saucepan, over a medium heat. You want the milk to be warm but not boiling as you'll be mixing it using your hands so you don't want to scald yourself. You should be able touch the milk in the pan without it being uncomfortably hot.
- Add the flour, sugar, spices and fruit zest and ribbons to a large bowl. Add your yeast to one side of the bowl and the salt to the other, making sure they're kept separate.
- Tip in all of the butter and half of the milk and bring together using your hands, adding more milk as you go. Add the milk gradually, stopping once a soft dough forms.
- Make a well in the centre of the dough and pour in the beaten egg and again, use your hands to bring the dough together. It will feel very wet but resist the urge to add in any extra flour.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead roughly. Begin to incorporate your dried fruit by stretching the dough out and filling with fruit before turning the corners in and adding more fruit. Continue this pattern until you've added all of the fruit.
- Knead the dough for 10-15 minutes until it is elastic and forms a smooth ball. You can also do this in a stand mixer using a dough hook but I prefer to do it by hand.
- Grease a large bowl with olive oil and place the dough inside, cover with cling film and leave until doubled in size - up to 2 hours.
- Once the dough has proved, tip it out onto a floured work surface and cut into 12 pieces before shaping into balls and squashing down slightly. Place on a lined baking tray, keep them reasonably close so that they batch-bake. Cover the tray with a tea towel, or place inside a plastic bag and tie, and leave to prove for 45 minutes.
- Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees shortly before the end of the 45 minutes.
- When the buns have risen mix together your flour and water to form a paste of piping consistency. Add to a piping bag and pipe a cross onto each bun. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
- Whilst your buns are baking add the sugar, honey and orange juice to a small saucepan and heat. Once the buns are out of the oven brush with the glaze immediately.
- Leave to cool on a wire rack before serving.
The spices really make these buns special and they make the whole house smell delicious.
Traditional recipes call for mixed peel but I hate it so instead I ribbon the skin of a lemon and an orange.
It’s really important to keep the yeast and the salt on separate sides of the bowl to stop them from chemically interacting too soon.
I like to let my melted butter cool just a fraction before I tip it in so that, with the milk, the mixture is at a comfortable temperature to mix by hand.
Once you’ve added the butter and half of the milk it will feel like a lot of liquid in the bowl, and it is, but it will all come together quickly.
A few minutes and one egg later and we have a soft, pliable ball of dough ready for the fruit to be added.
Stretch the dough out a little and add in a handful of fruit.
Fold in two corners, adding more fruit with each fold.
Add more fruit and fold over the last half of dough.
Knead for 10 minutes, until you have a soft and springy dough with all fruit incorporated. Pop in a bowl and prove for an hour.
Look how soft and shiny the dough is after its prove!
I like the subtle marble of the fruit ribbons running through the dough and the dark fruit spots.
Cut in to 12 roughly even sizes (I am terrible at this!) and shape into balls.
Pipe your crosses as neatly as you can, not my forte but at least they look homemade!
The buns should be golden brown from the oven and shiny from the glaze.
You could wait for them to cool down….
Or you can slather them in butter fresh from the oven and let it melt in.
The buns will keep in an airtight container for up to three days.