hot cross buns

The hot cross bun is one of the most iconic British baked goods – dating as far back as Saxon times. The idea for a hot cross ‘loaf’ came from the youngest member of Head Baker Eric Duhamel’s team, Matthew Dunning.

This recipe uses subtle levels of spices with just a touch of cloves, which can be overpowering. Best enjoyed hot and fresh, either as they are or spread with good butter, jam or marmalade if you like.

Ingredients (Makes 3 Small Loaves Or 12 Buns)
500g strong white flour
10g fine sea salt
10g fresh yeast or 4g dried yeast
75g butter, softened
25g golden syrup
110g milk
1 tsp mixed spice
2 tsps ground cinnamon
90g currants
70g sultanas
70g mixed peel
1 egg, beaten, for brushing
A little vegetable oil, for greasing the bowl and the clingfilm

For The Crossing Paste
60g plain flour
15g sunflower oil

For The Glaze
25g sugar
1 tsp liquid malt (available from health stores)
1 tsp lemon juice

Method Difficulty (Easy 3 Hrs)
To make the dough, sift the flour and salt into a large bowl with the yeast, butter, syrup, milk and 220g of lukewarm water. Mix together to form a dough. Turn out on to your work surface an knead for 10 minutes, or until smooth.

Roll the dough out with a rolling pin to about 2cm thick, then sprinkle over the spices, fruit and peel. Knead again until evenly distributed throughout the dough, then from into a ball and put into a large oiled bowl. Cover with oiled clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place for about 1-2 hours, until doubled in size.

Turn out the dough and “de-gas” by pressing down briefly and gently with the flat of your hand, to even out the bubbles of air, then divide into 12 pieces. Form each one into a bun shape and place on a large baking tray. Cover with a clean tea towel.

Leave the buns in a warm place, again until doubled in size, then brush with beaten egg.

Preheat the oven to 210 C/gas 7.

While the buns are proving, make the crossing paste by mixing the flour and oil with 60g of water. Put it into a piping bag with a medium, plain nozzle.

To make the glaze, put the sugar, malt and lemon juice into a pan with 25g of water and heat, stirring, until boiling, then take off the heat and set aside to cool.

When the buns have doubled in size, pipe “crosses” on the top of each one then put into the preheated oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes, until golden. If you throw some ice cubes into the bottom of the oven, this will create steam and enhance the rising and look of the buns.

Remove from the oven and, while still warm, brush the tops with the glaze. Leave to cool on a rack.