Hot Cross Buns

I love Easter because to me it is the baking holiday! There are so many different things to bake that really lend themselves to being Easter themed even if that is sticking a mini egg on a cupcake. I’m glad we have four days off work because I am going to need it for the amount of baking I have planned.

Hot cross buns are an essential at Easter in my opinion. There are lots of different recipes out there with slight variations but I decided to go with this one by Paul Hollywood because I liked the idea of putting apple in them. The original recipe can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/hot_cross_buns_74750.

My Mum searches the shops for hot cross buns that don’t have peel in them because she hates it; every year Dad ends up buying them some with peel in saying “he forgot”. I am slightly risking it by trying to convert her with this recipe. I bought a big bag of mixed fried fruit which has a selection of raisins, sultanas and a small amount of peel. I’m going to not mention the peel and see if she notices because there really is such a small amount, but if notices I’ll try and see if Dad’s excuse works! Fingers crossed!

For the buns:
300ml whole milk

500g strong white flour
75g caster sugar
1 tsp salt
7g sachet fast-action yeast
50g butter
1 egg beaten
230g mixed dried fruit
1 apple, cored and finely chopped
2 oranges, zest only
2 tsp ground cinnamon
oil for greasing the bowl

  1. Bring the milk to the boil and then remove from the heat and leave to cool until it reaches hand temperature. Keep watching it until small bubbles start appearing and then take it off the heat – don’t let it get too hot
  2. Mix the flour, sugar, salt, yeast, butter and egg together in a bowl, then slowly add the warmed milk until it forms a sticky dough

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  1. Add the dried fruit, finely chopped apple, orange zest and cinnamon and mix. It is a little tricky to mix all of the fruit into the dough but don’t worry as you will be able to mix this in more thoroughly when you knead it. Tip out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface
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  1. Knead the dough for five minutes, or until smooth and elastic
  1. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise for approximately one hour, or until doubled in size. I like to use spray oil for this because it is very low in calorie and its quick and easy to spray the bowl and cling film

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  1. Lightly flour your surface and roll the dough into a long sausage shape and divide it into 12 pieces. Roll each section into a round ball and place them on a lined baking tray. Leave enough room so they have enough space to rise. leave to prove for another hour

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  1. Heat the oven to 200ºC

For the cross:
75g plain flour

  1. Mix the flour with five tablespoons of water, add a spoonful at at a time and mix. You’re looking for a thick paste consistency so don’t add all of the water if you don’t need it
  1. Spoon into a piping bag with a small, circular nozzle. Pipe across each bun and then pipe in the other direction to make a cross. This isn’t like piping butter cream – the flour and water are really elastic and I found the easiest way of finishing your cross was with the help of some scissors to cut off the paste

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  1. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown

For the glaze:
3 tbsp apricot jam

  1. Heat the apricot jam on a low heat in a pan and then sieve to remove the chunks. While the jam is still warm, brush over the top of the buns to give a lovely shine

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Throughout the process of making these, the smell of the fruit and cinnamon is amazing! We did sneak one straight out of the oven before I did the glaze and the butter melted instantly and they really did taste lovely. They do take a bit of time and effort – from start to finish took approximately 3 1/2 hours but it was enjoyable and worth it in my opinion.

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