Thursday, March 24, 2016

Hot Cross Buns – and an Invitation to Commit Gluttony!

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Hot Cross Buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday. These ones will lead you into temptation. 


As a child, one of the great treats of staying with my Gran in Cork City was that her local bakery produced great Hot Cross Buns at Easter. Maybe my taste buds are suffering from nostalgia, but I haven’t been able to find a bakery since that can produce a bun of comparable deliciousness. Many commercial versions taste like a mouthful of sawdust – a penance indeed. Experience has taught me that these Easter buns are a creation often best baked at home.
Easter is thought to be named after the Anglo-Saxon goddess of Spring, Eastre, and some believe this sweet spiced bread was baked in her honour. It makes much more sense to me that these sticky treats are a celebration of springtime and abundance to come rather than an invitation to commit Gluttony in the dying days of Lent. Whatever you believe, they are delicious.

For 12 tempting buns, you will need...
... to preheat the oven to 190°C at step 7

For the dough
500g strong white flour (bread flour)
1 teaspoon fine table salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 sachet of dried yeast (7g)
1 tablespoon olive oil
75g ready-to-eat dried apricots, cut into small pieces (about the size of sultanas)
50g sultanas
75g honey*
300mls fresh milk
1 large egg, beaten 

a little extra olive oil for oiling the work surface and your hands for kneading

For the cross decoration
2 tablespoons plain flour
2 tablespoons water 

For the honey glaze
One tablespoon runny honey, warmed (I put it in a heatproof bowl and stand the bowl in hot water).
Remember that scene from Fried Green Tomatoes...
Put the flour, salt, ground cinnamon, orange zest, dried yeast, olive oil, dried apricots and sultanas into a large bowl. Mix to combine.

*Weigh the honey directly into a small saucepan and add the milk. Warm the milk to between 27°C - 35°C (this is when a finger dipped in the milk will feel neither hot nor cold – but best to use a thermometer).

Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and add the beaten egg, and about half the milk. Mix with a wooden spoon or spatula and continue adding the milk until you have a soft dough and no dry flour remains. You may not need to use all the milk. Continue mixing until the fruit is well distributed throughout the dough. (You could use a stand mixer with a dough hook either.)

I am shifting more and more towards the no-knead method so I simply cover the dough with a lightly oiled sheet of cling film and leave it in a warm place to rise until doubled in size. (If you prefer, knead it by hand for about 8 minutes or in your stand mixer for about 4 minutes before covering and leaving to rise.)

After the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly oiled work surface, and knock it back. (This simply means giving it a couple of jabs with your fists to remove most of the air so you can form it into its final shape.) Knead lightly for a minute or so, before dividing into 12 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball on the oiled surface, and flatten slightly into a bun shape. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking parchment and gently transfer the buns to the tray. Cover the buns with lightly oiled cling film and leave in a warm place, until once again doubled in size. Make sure the buns have plenty of room to rise.


Meanwhile, make the paste for the cross by mixing together the flour and water - you want a smooth paste with a consistency similar to porridge.

When the dough has once more doubled in size, remove the cling film. Carefully pipe the cross shape onto each bun. Transfer to the pre-heated oven and bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer the buns to a cooling rack and immediately brush them with warmed honey.


An orange blossom honey makes the perfect glaze

It is considered good luck to share these buns and the cinnamon and orange make them particularly good with coffee so what better excuse to invite some friends over! 
Lead me not into temptation... well, perhaps just the once!
This recipe was first published in April 2012 and is back by popular demand!
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31 comments:

ping said...

Oh yummers! It's time again for these lovelies! Seeing so many lately, I'm getting cross-eyed ..... in a good way :) I accept the invitation!

Erica said...

Those look great! I love your title, heehee.

Tina said...

I hardly ever see these at bakeries anymore. Not sure why because they are a classic favorite to me. The only solution to that issue is to bake some of my own. Yours turned out beautifully and I love that fluffy texture as shown in your picture. Well done!

Healthyfoodietravels said...

I’ve never had hot cross buns, since I didn’t grow up here. Sounds like a delicious treat!

Cucina49 said...

Those look delicious, and I think the honey glaze looks perfect. As someone who starts observing Passover in a couple of days, such gorgeous carbs make me want to weep.

Linda said...

these look delicious! love the honey glaze :)

CCU said...

Your hot cross buns look divine!!!! So soft and fluffy and full and dripping glaze... Mmmmmm :)
I'll take you up on that invitation!

Cheers
Choc Chi Uru

Grubarazzi said...

These are just perfect and classic. Lovely photos!

Zoe said...

I'm always very proud to say that homemade hot cross buns are always the freshest and best! Yours look superb!

All your baking and cooking are truly magical! I would love to see more of your magical transformations and here I am... your latest follower :D

The Harried Cook said...

They look lovely! The most tempting looking hot cross buns I've seen this year... Love the photographs, too! Thanks for sharing :)

The Harried Cook said...

They look lovely! The most tempting looking hot cross buns I've seen this year... Love the photographs, too! Thanks for sharing :)

Heidi {Young Grasshopper} said...

WOW! THese are awesome! May I post one of your pictures with a link to your post on my blog? I'm doing a 5 favorites each Friday and this was one of mine this week ;)

firefoodie said...

The best littly HCB's I've ever seen.. you might convert me to a baker yet! Love that glossy finish. A :)

Jill Colonna said...

Hester, I do believe that you know how to tempt us, don't you? These look fabulous (and far better than M&S, as my kids have just said!)

Lizzy said...

Oh, I love this method for forming the cross! Beautifully done...and I know they must be scrumptious!

Food Jaunts said...

I love hot cross buns :) I really do need to get on it and make a batch. Side note - are sultanas, raisins?

Samantha said...

The crosses on these look ever so much more appealing the the sickly sweet icing I see on most bakery varieties. And the glaze! Temptation indeed! Thank you for sharing!

claire @ the realistic nutritionist said...

Oh this is amazing. I need these in my life immediately.

Hester @ Alchemy in the Kitchen said...

@ Food Jaunts - good question - they are both technically raisins but Sultanas are from seedless varieties. They are usually golden in colour and fatter, juicier and sweeter than other raisins. (They may be called Golden Raisins in the States)

wok with ray said...

These cross buns are simply gorgeous.

Sarah said...

These are gorgeous! Way more tempting than what I've been seeing in the stores lately!!

Kristen said...

I love how those buns look with the cross baked right in. Such great flavors, too!!!

Tiffany said...

Hot. Cross. BUNS! NOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D I hope you had a joyous Easter!

Mal said...

These look delicious! I have never had a hot cross bun before (since Easter and Passover are always at the same time, I don't get much opportunity for them)

Mal @ The Chic Geek

Biana | TastyGalaxy.com said...

These buns look great, both inside and outside. Fabulous pictures too!

Margaret Murphy Tripp said...

I adore hot cross buns. Yours look beautiful! I'm the only one in my house that will eat them though...if I make these, I'd have to eat them all myself!

Magic of Spice said...

These buns look absolutely perfect!

Rosemary Wolbert said...

You make it sound so easy, Hester! I accept your kind invitation!

Liz Berg said...

Your hot cross buns are perfect! Some day I will bake a batch for my family--but I'll have to leave out all the good stuff. Sigh.

Anne@ASaladForAllSeasons said...

Oh Hester...these are beautiful! I like your no knead attitude! And I love that drizzle of orange blossom honey. Very very tempting indeed!

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

Sorry I'm so late in commenting about your hot cross buns, I can imagine how good they are.