Easter is fast approaching, and one of the things I really find special about Easter is baking. So I’m going to show you how to make hot cross buns. The way I make them is slightly different. So there’s a special glaze that goes on them at the end which just adds a little bit to that flavour. To start with I’ve got some warm milk. Mix 50% water and 50% milk. I’ve got some dried yeast. I’m going to add the dried yeast to the milk. Give that a stir, and a little sprinkle of sugar. And that will help the yeast to really get going. So while we’re waiting for the yeast to get bubbly and frothy, we’re going to put the rest of the ingredients into this bowl. I’ve got strong plain flour or bread flour. Next I’ve got caster sugar and then some ground mixed spice. I’m going to use nutmeg. I tend to use whole nutmeg rather than ground. I find the flavour’s a lot better. The smell already is really, really good. And then I rub the butter through the flour until we get a breadcrumb like texture. And then we’re going to add the liquid in. So the yeast’s gone all frothy and bubbly so we’ll pour that straight in. Got the egg in. So now, using your hands, start working in the middle just to break the egg. And then spin the bowl, more or less keeping your hand in the same place. And just start working the flour into the liquid. It will be sticky. It’ll be wet. It’ll be tacky. That’s exactly what you want. One of the things that a lot of people do when they make bread is use too much flour. What that means is that your bread comes out quite heavy. That’s quite a sticky dough. But that is what we’re looking for. So, at the moment, that still flows and will drop. We’re going to turn into a board and just knead it very gently. Stretch. Fold. Give it a quarter of a turn. Hold the back. Stretch and fold. Quarter of a turn. And just keep doing that until it loses most of the stickiness. We don’t want to over work the dough. If we start really kneading this now like we would for a bread, we’d end up with quite a tough crumb. You can see that’s not sticking any more. So now that’s literally put into a bowl, covered with cling film or a damp tea towel, and we’ll leave it until it’s doubled in size. OK, so I’ve let the dough sit now for around 45 minutes. Now we’re going to knock this dough back. The smell. That’s fantastic. Straight away, it really hits you. That nutmeg. Really quite strong. For the next part of this we’re going to add the dried mixed fruit. I’ve got quite a rich mix here. I’ve got cherries in it, pineapple, raisins, currants, sultanas, and a nice handful of mixed peel. We’re going to start by folding it over And then we’re going to bring the bottom up and over. Just nip the ends. So we just fold the fruit in. Bring that side over. Bring that side over, and then turn over. And then once the fruit’s into the dough we’re going to start kneading it. Don’t worry at first. The fruit will fall out, that’s fine. Just keep mopping it up with the dough. And for kneading this, hold the dough at the front, pull it, push down with your fingers, and then where you’ve pushed that, get the heel of your hand and push it through. So you’re stretching the dough. We need to do this for two to three minutes. To check that’s done enough, just press it and it should spring back slightly. I’m going to cut this into 12 pieces, and now we’re ready to shape each one and get it onto the tray ready for proving. The technique for rolling is to place the palm of your hand over the piece of dough and start to rotate. Gradually cup your hand and push your thumb and little finger together at the bottom. And that just pushes the dough in and we get a nice ball of dough. Once we’ve done that, what we’re going to do now is leave these to double in size. Cover them with a bit of cling film, and all I’ve done with this is rubbed a bit of butter. You could use oil. Putting that bit of grease on helps it to stop sticking. So the hot cross buns have been proving now for about 45 minutes. Traditionally, these would have had pastry to form the cross on the top. Nowadays we tend to make a quick paste. So this is just plain flour and some water, We’re going to mix it to a smooth paste. We’re now going to transfer that into a piping bag, and simply run the pastry straight across the top, and then across in the opposite direction. And now they’re ready go in the oven. So they’ll go in the oven round about 15 minutes, until they’ve risen, golden, and as soon as they come out we’re going to put the glaze on them. I mentioned earlier about the glaze that will go on these hot cross buns which I think just changes them very slightly. Just gives them a lot richer flavour, a lot nicer. The ingredients we’re going to use are butter, honey and cardamom pods. They’re really floral. Got lovely, lovely flavour to them. I’ve melted the butter on the hob. I’m going to take the cardamom pods just in between two spoons and just crush them and then drop that into the butter to start infusing the flavour. And then we’re going to add honey. Stir that until the honey melts into the butter. We’re going to leave that to sit while the buns cook. And as soon as they come out we use a pastry brush and we’ll get that brushed on the top. Beautiful. Absolutely spot-on. Really smells good. Whilst they’re still hot we need to get the topping on. So there you have it. That’s my recipe for hot cross buns. The taste of these is so much better than
anything you could buy.