HOT cross bun is a spiced sweet bun that is traditionally eaten on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
It marks the end of Lent and each part of the bun has a specific meaning. The cross symbolises the crucifixion of Christ, the spices represent those used to embalm him at his burial, and the plumped up dried fruits signify his resurrection on the third day.
For this recipe, soak the dried fruits in orange juice for about two hours. Once the fruits plump up, strain the liquid and save it for the glaze.
Although most recipes call for bread flour or high-protein flour, I prefer using all-purpose flour because it yields a softer bun. You just need to knead the dough longer with a stand mixer to activate as much gluten as possible.
Just remember to keep the machine at lower speeds so that you do not burn out the motor because activated gluten can present quite a bit of resistance.
The process of bread making is really about allowing the yeast to do its work. The kitchen needs to be kept warm to help the dough rise.
As we form the balls of dough for the buns, they will continue to expand. The best way to make sure the buns remain a consistent size is to weigh each one.
Many recipes call for a paste of flour and water to make the cross. The traditional method which I opted for is to use shortcrust pastry. If you prefer flour paste, then substitute with equal amounts of flour and water.
Hot cross buns
30g dried cranberries
30g dried cherries
250ml orange juice
250ml whole milk
15g dried yeast
60g unsalted butter
450g all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
60g brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 large egg, beaten
30g mixed peel
30g candied ginger
50g all-purpose flour
25g unsalted butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
Soak dried fruits in orange juice for at least two hours. Strain and set aside both fruit and juice.
Heat the milk in a small pan over low heat for a few minutes, until slightly warm — you should be able to dip your finger in without scalding it. Transfer the warmed milk to a bowl and stir in the yeast.
Melt the butter in a separate pan over low heat for a few minutes, then set aside.
Sift the flour into a mixing bowl, then add sugar, salt and spices. Make a well in the centre and pour in the melted butter, followed by the yeast mixture and beaten
egg. Stir in a stand mixer with a bread hook at low speed for a few minutes, then knead at medium speed for about 10 minutes until soft and springy.
Place the dough in a flour-dusted bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to proof in a warm place for at least an hour until doubled in size.
Knock the air out with your fist and transfer the dough to a floured work surface. Roll the dough flat then sprinkle with dried fruit, mixed peel and candied ginger and roll into a log.
Divide the dough into 20 equal pieces of about 50 to 55 grammes and roll each into a ball, evenly spacing them out on the tray.
Make shortcrust pastry dough with all-purpose flour, butter and water. Cut pastry into narrow strips and trace a cross with the pastry dough over the top of the buns. Cover with a tea towel and leave
in a warm place for a further 30 minutes until they double in size.
Preheat the oven to 190ºC. Bake the buns in the preheated oven for 20 minutes until golden brown.
Bring fruit-soaked orange juice and sugar to a boil then simmer at low heat to reduce by half. Set aside orange glaze to cool. Brush buns with fruity orange glaze. Served warm, these sticky buns can be eaten without butter.
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