At the weekend I suddenly decided I was in the mood to make a cake.…
Easter is on the way and hot cross buns have started making an appearance in the shops. I love hot cross buns, they are perfect served with a cup of tea. As they toast a lovely fruity spicy smell wafts though the house. A little butter spread on and melting into the toasted surface makes them perfect. They are a lovely addition to Easter tea and normally I buy them. This weekend I decided to attempt to try making hot cross buns.
Hot cross buns are spiced sweet buns containing fruit. The cross on the top is normally made from pasty. Every child is familiar with the rhyme
“Hot cross buns, Hot cross buns, One a penny, two a penny, Hot cross buns”
and indeed we would gleefully chant this when we went for Easter tea at my grannies. As well as hot& cross buns there was usually a Simnel cake on the table with its eleven balls of marzipan to represent the disciples, excluding Judas for his betrayal of Jesus.
The history of hot cross buns is hazy, there are plenty of theories which hark back to Roman, Saxon and even Greek times. The Spring festival was usually marked by most civilisations and eating special cakes probably played a great part. The tradition of eating spiced buns on Good Friday probably goes back to Tudor times. A London by-law forbade the sale of such buns except on Good Friday, at Christmas and at burials. Whatever their history they are delicious.
I decided to make them as I had some dried mixed fruit lurking in the back of my cupboard that needed to be used and some left over pastry from making a steak pie. I wasn’t sure how difficult hot cross buns would be to make, but it turns out they are not that hard. As with any bread the time consuming part is the kneading and leaving them to prove. You do need patience to wait for the dough to rise, my son kept asking when they would be ready and was not impressed we had to wait for them to rise. Making the pastry crosses look more elegant probably takes a bit more practice. I cut out pastry and stuck it on with water. I was pleased they managed to stay on the bun after they were cooked. Another approach is to make a flour and water mixture and pipe it onto the top of the hot cross buns. My skill with a piping bag is non-existant so I did not try this.
The smell wafting though the house as they cooked in the oven was glorious. The smell of baking bread always makes me hungry and this was mixed with a hint of spice. I put the kettle on, ready to make a cup of tea so I could eat the buns warm from the oven. A real afternoon treat. Before I could eat them they needed to be glazed with a sugar glaze to make them shine. I was too impatient to do this properly and as a result they are shiny in some places and not others. It did not change the taste, the buns were delicious. Food you have baked yourself always tastes better. It is as if the effort involved adds extra flavour.
Hot Cross Buns Recipe
Hot Cross Buns
- 450 g 1lb strong white flour
- 14 g ½ oz dried yeast
- 150 ml ¼ pint milk
- 60 ml 4 tbsp tepid water
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp mixed spice
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp grated nutmeg
- 50 g 2oz caster sugar
- 50 g 2oz butter
- 1 egg
- 100 g 4 oz raisins
- 100 g 4oz chopped mixed peel
- Shortcrust pastry to make the crosses
- To glaze
- 4 tbsp water
- 3 tbsp caster sugar
- Bring the milk and water to the boil, remove from the heat and add the butter.
- Leave to cool until it is hand temperature.
- While the milk mixture is cooling add the flour, yeast, salt and sugar into a bowl. Make a well in the middle.
- Pour in the milk mixture and mix until a dough is formed.
- Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for around five minutes until it is smooth and elastic.
- Place in an oiled bowl and cover with oiled cling film. Leave in a warm place for around an hour until doubled in size.
- Add the spices and the fruit into the bowl and knead them into the dough, making sure they are evenly distributed
- Leave to prove again until doubled in size.
- Divide the dough into eight pieces, shape into buns and place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment.
- Leave to prove for an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 220C Gas 7
- Roll out the shortcrust pastry and cut into strips.
- Make a cross on top of each bun.
- Bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown.
- Place the water and sugar in a pan and heat until the sugar dissolves.
- Use the mixture to glaze each of the buns while they are still hot.
As I used some stuff that was lurking in my kitchen cupboards I am adding this recipe to the kitchen clear out linkie over on Madhouse Family Reviews.