Hot Cross Buns
Truth be told, I’m not much of a knead/rise, knead/rise kind of gal, but I this week I had an attack of ”it’s springtime, and I must have hot cross buns!” With no English Bakeries, Sainsbury’s or Waitrose (my favorite grocery stores in England) in my neck of the woods, I woke up early, baking them for Easter Sunday to have after our egg hunt with the neighbors in the canyon.
Today’s recipe is a traditional, English-style hot cross bun recipe, using organic ingredients. I was chuffed beyond belief with my homemade hot cross buns. Oh, the divine straight-outta-the oven fluffy goodness, and the wonky imperfection of each bun made-me-feel-like-a-na-tur-ral-wo-man! It’s amazing how baking can make you feel so goooood. Following the sweet waft from the kitchen, my son came in, grabbed a warm hot cross bun, took a bite, and said “oh Mommy, you are so beeauutiifuul, and such a good cook.” That’s enough to keep me baking for a whole month straight.
Hot Cross Buns
4 cups full fat milk
3 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
4 cups unbleached bread flour
1 tsp fine sea salt
2/3 cup caster sugar
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 sachet fast-action yeast
1 egg, beaten
2/3 cup sultanas
zest of 1 orange
apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
For the Cross
1/4 cup plain flour 4-5 tbsp water (enough water to make a paste)
5 tbsp apricot jam
1. In a saucepan, bring the milk to a rolling boil, then turn off the heat. Add the butter. Cool until it reaches a bit warmer than room temperature. In a large mixing bowl tip in the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Pour in the milk and butter, then add the beaten egg. Stir well with a wooden spoon, then bring it all together by mixing with your hands until it forms
a sticky dough. Add a splash of milk if your dough is a bit dry.
2. On a lightly floured surface, hold the dough with one hand and knead with the other, stretching it with the heel of your hand, then folding it back on itself. Knead for 4 minutes or until the dough feels elastic. Put the dough into an oiled bowl. Cover with oiled cling film (to prevent the dough forming a crust), and leave to rise in a warm room for 1 hour.
3. Remove the cling film, adding the apple, sultanas, orange zest, cinnamon, and nutmeg, then knead into the dough until the ingredients are evenly distributed. Cover with the cling film again, and rise for 1 hour.
4. Divide the dough into 15 even size pieces (you can weigh them out to be sure they’re exact, but I do it by eye, preferring a slightly irregular, homey look). Roll each piece on a lightly floured surface, then lay on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper allowing space for each bun to rise. Cover lightly with a clean tea towel for 1 last hour.
5. Heat the oven to 375°. Make the paste by combining the flour and water, then mixing to a paste in a small bowl. You have two options for piping the white paste: buy a professional piping set, or a cheaper option: a Ziplock Freezer bag with a teeny snip at the end. Spoon the paste into the bag of your choice and pipe one way for all the buns, then pipe the opposite cross on a ll the buns.. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
6. To glaze: Heat the apricot jam on medium heat. Press through a sieve, then use a pastry brush to glaze each bun. Cool to room temperature and serve with orange marmalade.