The bun is somewhat spicy inside, and has a sugary glaze on the top, with a cross marked or stamped thereon. Whether it is eaten hot or cold, with butter or without, toasted or untoasted, each family decides according to circumstances; (Charles Dickens, Household Words, 1870)
Last Good Friday I posted about hot cross buns – their historical origins and references to them in popular culture and literature. However, I wasn’t organised enough to write the post until Good Friday, by which time it seemed a little late to give the recipe as anyone reading the blog would certainly have already consumed their hot cross buns.
This year I’ve been slightly more organised – not that I’ve made my hot cross buns yet; I’ll leave that until tomorrow, but I can at least get the recipe out two days before Good Friday giving anyone who wishes time to shop for ingredients and make their own hot cross buns.
To rewrite Dickens above, whether eaten hot or cold, with butter or without, toasted or untoasted, the effort of making hot cross buns is definitely worth it.
HOT CROSS BUNS
Ingredients (makes 12)
50g caster sugar
150 ml lukewarm water
1 level tablespoon easy-blend yeast
450g plain flour
1 level teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon mixed spice
40-55ml warmed milk
1 egg beaten
50g butter melted
For the crosses:
75g plain flour
2 tablespoons water
For the glaze:
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
Place the flour, salt and mixed spice in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Sprinkle the yeast on the mixture and mix in with the sugar and currants.
Make a well in the middle of the mixture and add the water, milk, egg and butter. Mix with a wooden spoon until it comes together into a dough.
Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead for approximately 10 minutes until it is soft and elastic – if you have a mixer, it will probably take about 5 minutes.
Return to the bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place for approximately 1 hour until doubled in size.
Turn the risen dough out onto the floured surface and punch it back down to its original size.
Divide the mixture into 12 portions and shape. Place on a greased baking sheet with plenty of room between each one. Cover and leave to rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 220C / fan oven 200C / Gas mark 7, and mix together the flour and water into a paste to make the crosses. Roll out into a long thin strip and cut to fit the risen buns. Dampen the two short edges of each short strip and place on the buns to make a cross shape.
Bake the buns in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes until golden brown and well-risen. Whilst they are cooking, melt the sugar and water for the glaze in a small saucepan over a gentle heat. Brush the buns with the glaze as soon as they are out of the oven. Leave to cool slightly before eating.