It’s that time again; Easter feasting has come around, and so too have hot cross buns.
To mark the occasion, here’s the ultimate recipe by Betty’s.
INGREDIENTS (Makes 12)
For the crossing paste
180g strong white flour
Pinch of salt
Pinch of baking powder
50ml vegetable oil
For the buns
400g strong white flour
60g caster sugar
1 level teaspoon salt
2 heaped teaspoons mixed spice
45g butter or vegetable shortening, cut into small pieces
50g fresh yeast (or 25g dried yeast)
130ml tepid water
50g chopped mixed peel
For the sugar-syrup glaze
200g caster sugar
Sieve the flour, salt, and baking powder together into a small mixing bowl, then add the vegetable oil. Mix together until a crumb-like texture has formed.
Gradually add the water whilst beating with a wooden spoon until a smooth paste has formed. Beware, if you add the water too quickly, it may become lumpy.
Once all the water has been incorporated, beat for a couple of minutes – this will develop the gluten in the mixture and give it elasticity. Leave the paste in the bowl and cover it with cling film to prevent skinning. Place in the fridge to relax.
For the hot cross buns and sugar-syrup glaze
Place the flour, sugar, salt, and spice in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter or vegetable shortening. Rub the fat into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, and all the ingredients are evenly distributed.
In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast with tepid water. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, add the dissolved yeast and the milk. Gradually draw the flour away from the sides of the bowl into the center to combine with the liquid, forming a dough.
Remove the dough from the bowl and knead for 10 – 12 minutes on a lightly floured surface until it is smooth and elastic.
Spread the dough out on the work surface and pile all of the dried fruit in the center. Fold the outside edges around the fruit and continue to knead gently until the fruit is evenly distributed. At first, it will be difficult to keep the fruit inside the dough, but perseverance will pay off. Leave to rest on the work surface for 5 minutes, covered with a clean tea towel.
Divide the dough into 12 equal portions with a metal scraper or a sharp knife (about 80g each) and shape it into round balls—line two baking sheets with baking parchment. Carefully place the buns on the baking sheets, leaving enough space between them to allow for rising. Cover with a clean, damp tea towel and leave to prove in a warm place until the buns have doubled in size and spring back slowly when pressed – this will take between 1 and 2 hours.
While the buns are proving, preheat the oven to 200ºC (gas mark 6) and prepare the sugar syrup glaze. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Keep the mixture boiling continuously until it becomes syrupy. Pour into a jug and allow to cool.
Once the buns have doubled in size, the crosses need to be added. Spoon the crossing paste into a piping bag and cut a small hole in the end. With a steady hand, pipe a perfect cross on the top of each bun. Bake the buns in the preheated oven for 10 – 12 minutes until they are a rich golden brown.
Remove from the oven and immediately brush the tops of the buns with the sugar-syrup glaze. Transfer onto a cooling rack. Serve warm with butter.