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hot cross buns 2

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Hot cross buns

This is my other recipe for hot cross buns - the competing one here, by Andrew Whitley. You’d think there’s not much to it: flour, yeast, sugar, butter, eggs and milk – plus lots of raisins.

But it turns out these are poor cousins to Whitley’s little wonders. First thing – regretfully the raisin ratio is not satisfactory here. Dan Lepard, whose recipe this is (from Baking with Passion), instructs to use dried apricots as well but they just disintegrate and vanish. Twice as many raisins would be more pleasing, and yet more instead of the citrus peel in the recipe. Raisins, raisins and more raisins, in short.

The dough is not as fluffy either, even though all-white flour. The glaze is not as rich and the egg wash completely redundant: it actually makes the glaze slide off the buns instead of stickily cling to them. And I had to heavily improve on the piping paste: the original amount was the texture of set concrete and the proportions enough to pipe on one bun.

Try this – by all means. It’s still a good bun and none you can buy in the shops are a patch on it. They keep rather well and only on the third day had to be toasted a little. But not the ultimate hot cross buns.

hot cross buns 2


INGREDIENTS

  • Makes 22-24 buns
  • For the sponge:
  • 7g fast action or 17g fresh yeast
  • 200ml warm water
  • 200g strong bread flour
  • For the main dough:
  • 670g strong bread flour
  • 230ml water at room temperature
  • 25g skimmed milk powder
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 12g fine sea salt
  • 85g butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 100g raisins
  • 70g dried apricots, chopped
  • 80g chopped citrus peel
  • For the cross piping paste:
  • 10 tbsp. plain flour
  • 1 tbsp. caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2-3 tbsp. cold water
  • For the egg wash:
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp. milk
  • For the glaze:
  • 100g sugar
  • 50ml water

METHOD

To make the sponge, dissolve the yeast in warm water and mix into the flour. Cover and leave in a warm place for an hour or so.

Add all the main dough ingredients except the dried fruit and peel to the sponge and mix in a standing mixer with the dough hook attachment, or knead by hand. This will take about 10 minutes in the mixer and 25-30 minutes by hand – the dough needs to become stretchy, elastic and bouncing off the sides of the bowl or not sticking to your hands any longer.

Add the dried fruit and peel and knead or mix gently in – if you’re doing everything in the mixer, still best to turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead by hand to make sure the fruit is not crushed but evenly distributed. Shape it into a ball and return to the bowl, cover and leave to double in volume, about 1 hour.

Starter and dough for hot cross buns

Prepare two baking sheets lined with parchment. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 24 pieces (each around 75-80g). Shape neatly into balls and place on the baking sheets, close together but not touching. Cover with a damp towel and leave for 45 minutes until considerably expanded and touching one another.

Preheat the oven to 240C/475F/gas 9. Make the piping paste by mixing the flour and sugar with water, add more water if needed – the paste has to be quite soft to be piped. Put it into a piping bag or a small plastic bag with a tiny hole cut in a corner.

Shaping hot cross buns

Brush the buns with the egg yolk beaten with the milk. Pipe crosses onto the buns, slide the trays into the oven and turn the heat immediately down to 180C/350F/gas 4. Bake for 30-35 minutes until deep golden brown. Transfer to the wire rack, still on the parchment.

Mix the sugar with water for the glaze and bring to the boil. Brush the glaze all over the buns generously until it’s all used up. Let the buns cool before pulling them apart.

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