With Good Friday and Easter being a week away, I decided to start with my Easter baking with some hot cross buns.
Growing up in Singapore meant that I hardly had the chance to go close to these buns. The closest I got to these buns was probably the illustrations of these buns in children’s books and the children’s song about them.
As a child, I found myself daydreaming about being the characters of my storybooks where I would be having these buns for tea with cute tea sets.
I can remember the first time I tried a hot cross bun. I was very curious to find out what the ‘cross’ tasted like. Can you imagine my disappointment when I realized that it has no flavor at all? Despite the disappointment, I did thoroughly enjoy the experience of eating my first hot cross bun.
Fast forward to today; I am in my kitchen making my own hot cross buns. I love how these buns are laced with cinnamon and orange zest, and all things nice like cranberries, figs, and raisins.
I used master baker, Paul Hollywood’s recipe for my hot cross buns. This recipe seems to yield better results than my previous ones – the bun has a fluffy texture and a well-developed flavour that I like.
The dough is extremely soft and wet which may seem daunting to work with initially. Just lightly oil the surface of your kitchen counter so that you can knead the dough easily. With a little patience and confidence, it will come together nicely.
The dough requires double proving – it may be time consuming but one way to ‘cut’ the time is to finish step one and two and allow the fermentation of the dough to take place in the fridge overnight.
As for the piping of the trademark cross, I would highly recommend that you make your own piping bag out of baking paper and just snip off a small end of it before piping – you should aim for thin lines as the lines would expand during the baking. Of course, if you prefer thick, bold lines, it’s perfectly fine as well.
I chose to egg-wash my buns before baking as I like my breads taking on an even brown colour.
I know that I would want to find time to bake up another batch of these hot cross buns on Good Friday so that perhaps I can start the tradition of having hot cross buns in my home.
What other Easter food treats excites you?
Recipe: Hot cross buns
Recipe from Paul Hollywood
Makes 15 hot cross buns
*Update: I’ve made spiced chocolate and orange hot cross buns and you can find the recipe in the link here. Those are a great alternative for a less traditional option.
For the buns:
300ml full-fat milk , plus 2 tbsp more
500g strong bread flour
1 tsp salt
75g caster sugar
1 tbsp sunflower oil
7g sachet fast-action or easy-blend yeast
1 egg , beaten
50g mixed peel
zest 1 orange
1 apple , peeled, cored and finely chopped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
FOR THE CROSS
75g plain flour , plus extra for dusting
FOR THE GLAZE
3 tbsp apricot jam
1. Bring the milk to the boil, then remove from the heat and add the butter. Leave to cool until it reaches hand temperature. Put the flour, salt, sugar and yeast (see Tip, below) into a bowl. Make a well in the centre. Pour in the warm milk and butter mixture, then add the egg. Using a wooden spoon, mix well, then bring everything together with your hands until you have a sticky dough.
2. Tip on to a lightly floured surface and knead by holding the dough with one hand and stretching it with the heal of the other hand, then folding it back on itself. Repeat for 5 mins until smooth and elastic. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hr or until doubled in size and a finger pressed into it leaves a dent.
3. With the dough still in the bowl, tip in the sultanas, mixed peel, orange zest, apple and cinnamon. Knead into the dough, making sure everything is well distributed. Leave to rise for 1 hr more, or until doubled in size, again covered by some well-oiled cling film to stop the dough getting a crust.
4. Divide the dough into 15 even pieces (about 75g per piece – see Tip below). Roll each piece into a smooth ball on a lightly floured work surface. Arrange the buns on one or two baking trays lined with parchment, leaving enough space for the dough to expand.
Cover (but don’t wrap) with more oiled cling film, or a clean tea towel, then set aside to prove for 1 hr more.
5. Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Mix the flour with about 5 tbsp water to make the paste for the cross – add the water 1 tbsp at a time, so you add just enough for a thick paste. Spoon into a piping bag with a small nozzle. Pipe a line along each row of buns, then repeat in the other direction to create crosses. Bake for 20 mins on the middle shelf of the oven, until golden brown.
6. Gently heat the apricot jam to melt, then sieve to get rid of any chunks. While the jam is still warm, brush over the top of the warm buns and leave to cool.