“Half for you and half for me, between us two shall goodwill be”
It’s been more than 10 years since I last made Hot Cross Buns. Today I spent the whole morning looking for my old recipe but couldn’t find it. So I remembered that I’d seen a Mary Berry’s recipe on Bake With Me and, after looking into Nigella’s (that has to sit in the fridge till the next morning), I decided that it would be the one. Can’t tell you how thankful I am that I lost my old recipe! This is amazing! I had to adapt it because I coudn’t find strong flour. So I did some research and discovered that the difference between plain and strong flours is that the latter has about 4% more gluten, and the trick to make do with plain flour is to work the batter a little longer. The result were fluffly little pieces of spiced bread with their crosses and shiny crusts.
HOT CROSS BUNS
Slightly adapted from Mary Berry’s
500g (1lb) strong white flour
60g (2oz) caster sugar
1 x 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp grated nutmeg
about 150ml (¼ pt) milk
about 150ml (¼ pt) very hot water
60g (2oz) butter
1 medium egg, beaten
90g (3oz) raisins
60g (2oz) sultanas
¼ cup flour
2 tbsp caster sugar mixed with
2 tbsp warm water
Sift the flour into a large bowl, stir in the sugar, yeast, salt, mixed spice, cinnamon and nutmeg, and make a well in the middle. Melt the butter in the hot water, add the milk and the egg. Pour the liquids into the centre of the dry ingredients and mix well, either with your hands or using an electric mixer fitted with the hook attachment.
Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, then shape into a round. Put in an large bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place for 1-1½ hours or until doubled in size. If you’re using an electric mixer, just leave it in the same bowl.
Knock back the dough with your fists, then turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 2-3 minutes until smooth and elastic. Divide the dough into 16 pieces and shape into round buns.
Lightly oil a baking tray or use a silicone mat, arrange the buns fairly close together and put it in the turned off oven. Leave to rise for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
Make the batter for the crosses mixing the flour with a little water until it gets to a piping consistency. Put it in a plastic bag (like Zip Lock), cut the tip and pipe the crosses on the buns.
Bake the buns in a preheated oven at 220oC for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer the buns to a wire rack, brush with the glaze and serve warm or cold.
A bit of History: hot cross buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday in Christian countries. According to the entry on Wikipedia, “in the times of Elizabeth I of England (1592), the London Clerk of Markets issued a decree forbidding the sale of hot cross buns and other spiced breads, except at burials, on Good Friday, or at Christmas. The punishment for transgressing the decree was forfeiture of all the forbidden product to the poor. As a result of this decree, hot cross buns at the time were primarily made in home kitchens.