So considering it has been nearly a week since Easter Sunday, it’s probably safe to say that this post is a little over due. But thats qualification is solely for people who seem to think eating Hot Cross buns is only an acceptable activity leading up to easter weekend and are happy to live bunless existences for the rest of the year.
I hope to never be that kind of person.
Now this recipe takes work – kneading, proving, shaping, reproving… it all seems like a lot more hassle than simply nipping down to the nearest supermarket, I get it. But let me just say this: although I do love the convenience of starting my mornings with a nicely toasted Tesco variety hot cross bun, it really, really is just better to make them yourself. I’m not gonna waste my time trying to convince you because texture aside (which, granted, most shop bought buns tend to do very well) the taste of these bundles of doughy joy – which blow all others out of the water – will do the convincing for me.
They are heavily spiced – a quality that I feel your standard shop bought bun somewhat lacks – and infused with earl grey tea (a genius variation from TopWithCinnamon, whose recipe this is). Just so good…
I am now feeling sad about how quickly I ate them … five in a day. FIVE! I would probably recommend doubling the recipe because 12 buns in a family of four was just not enough.
Early Grey Hot Cross Bun (Makes 12)
from TopWithCinnamon @ thekitchn.com
2/3 cup water
3 Earl Grey tea bags (I used 3 teaspoons of loose leaf Earl Grey tea)
1 (7 gram) packet of dried yeast – I used fast action
3 tbsp granulated sugar
3 1/2 cups (450 g) plain flour
50 g unsalted butter
1/3 cup milk
1 large egg
1 tsp salt
1 tablespoon mixed spice (*see notes)
zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
1/2 cup currants or raisins (I used a mixture of both)
For the crosses:
1/2 cup flour
1/3 to 1/2 cup water
Apricot jam or golden syrup, for glazing (I combined the two, with a touch of lemon curd for tang!)
1. Place your tea bags in a pot, cover with 2/3 cups of water and bring to a boil (I did this in the kettle and measured out the already boiled water into a mug then added the loose leaf tea, leaving it to steep for about 10 minutes).
2. Heat the butter and 1/3 cup milk gently on the stove top – or in a microwave, but be careful not to heat the milk so much that is scalds! Once the butter is melted, let it cool down to room temperature before whisking in the egg.
3. Mix the earl grey tea, granulated sugar, yeast and 1/2 cup flour together (having let your tea cool down a bit – warm water helps activate the yeast but if its too hot it will kill it! The tea should be warm but not too hot that you can’t comfortable put your finger in it).
4. In a large bowl measure out the flour, spices, and dried fruit, then make a well in the centre and pour the wet into the dry. Mix together with a wooden spoon until a sticky ball of dough beings to form – turn this out onto a well floured surface and knead for a good 10 minutes. Now, the internet hoards numerous tips and video tutorials about how to knead dough… none that I’ve paid much attention to if I’m being honest. I tend to just slap it around any which way I feel is right (taking tips from Ruby on the Great British Bake off who lifts up and SLAMS her dough back onto a countertop, holding one end of it, so the dough stretches out. It’s very fun). The dough will start of fairly sticky but should be quite smooth by the time you are done.
5. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover it with oiled cling film and leave to rise for an hour.
6. After an hour divide your risen dough into 12 sections, roll into balls, and place on a lined baking sheet. Using a sharp knife slit the cross onto your buns (though I definitely went a bit far and therefore ended up with HUGE crosses that sort of bled everywhere), cover again with oiled cling film and leave to rise for another 30 minutes.
7. Preheat your over to 180° celsius and make the flour paste (mixing flour with as much water as you need to make a thick, but runny mixture), transfer that into a small piping bag and after your dough has risen for half an hour pipe the crosses. This part can be a little tricky/messy but really – half the pleasure of having home made baked goods is the rustic look of them so don’t be too hard on yourself! My buns were definitely not the most uniform or beautiful things to look at but still tasted amazing.
8. Bake the hot cross buns for 30 minutes until golden brown on top, take them out of the over to cool for a few minutes before brushing on the glaze. You can now, of course, devour them in all their warm sticky goodness (I scoffed one within 10 minutes of coming out of the oven), but would recommend letting them cool completely on a wire rack giving the glaze time to set.
9. ENJOY! Feast on the fruits of your labour, boast about how you are basically Paul Hollywood 2.0 conquerer of all things bready and yeasty.
*Notes, TopwithCinnamon’s post comes with a link to make your own mixed spice – I didn’t have all the ingredients so substituted 1 tbsp cinnamon, 1/2 tbsp ground ginger and 1 tsp ground cardamon. The spice profile is really up to you… pumpkin pie spice is often used in America (I think. I don’t know. I said that with a lot of confidence and very little knowledge).