Easter weekend is upon us, spoil your family with freshly baked Hot Cross Buns. The aroma of cinnamon and fresh bread will be a treat. Get your kids involved to help with measuring ingredients, kneading, and making the buns. This could become a new Eater tradition.
I started making this recipe when I hosted Easter holiday baking classes when my children were little. I do love the whole ceremony of making dough, the rising process, and then the wonderful bakery smell filling my kitchen. I shot these photographs for Unwrapped.Co a few years ago, sadly they closed down but I wanted the recipe to keep living on my blog.
I rarely buy hot cross buns in the shop but we make this recipe every Easter.
Stone-ground flours are thought to be more nutritionally sound because they contain germ and bran, these flours are also not bleach. Stoneground flour has more flavour and a better ability to absorb liquid making it easier to work with. Most of the stone ground flour producers aim to produce their flour as naturally as possible, so the flour generally also does not contain the additives and chemicals added to mass-produced flour.
Tips when making the dough
Use a scale and measuring jug to measure ingredients accurately
Do not overheat the milk and butter, otherwise, the yeast will be killed
When adding the liquid to the dough, only use one hand in the dough while the other hand is holding the bowl, this just makes the process easier and less messy in case you need to add more flour you still have a clean hand.
Use cranberries, currants or raisins. I prefer to use currants because they don’t burn in the oven like raisins.
Make sure to cover the dough when rising, use clingfilm or I like to use my Spaza lappies.
Use a little olive oil on the surface of the dough to make sure it does not dry out.
Leave the dough in a sunny spot or you could use the yogurt function of the Instant Pot and leave the dough to rise. Another great place to let the dough rise is in a slightly warm oven. Preheat oven for a few minutes and switch the oven off.
A little baggie works just fine to make the crosses, try to do it in one motion from the top to bottom and across.
Glaze with egg wash before putting it in the oven, it will give the buns a lovely shine.
The spiced butter is totally optional but highly recommended. Use butter at room temperature and add cinnamon, ginger and honey to create a flavour bomb.
500g stoneground bread flour + 140g for the crosses and extra for dusting
1 tsp cinnamon
85g brown sugar
7g fast-action dried yeast
1 large egg, beaten, plus 1 egg to glaze
oil, for greasing
50g raisins or currants
200g salted butter softened
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
4 tbsp clear honey
Warm the milk and orange zest in a small saucepan until steaming. Remove from the heat and add the butter, swirling the pan until the butter has melted and the milk has cooled to hand temperature.
Mix the flour, cinnamon, sugar, yeast and 1 tsp salt in a large bowl. Pour in the milk mixture and the beaten egg, and mix with a wooden spoon until the mixture clumps together. Tip out onto your work surface and knead until smooth and elastic – the dough should bounce back when pressed with your finger. Transfer to a clean oiled bowl, cover with cling film or a tea towel and leave to rise for 2 hrs or until doubled in size.
Dust your largest baking tray with flour. Tip the dough back onto your work surface and knead again to knock out any air bubbles. Add the cranberries and raisins and knead to incorporate into the dough. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll each lump of dough into a smooth ball. Arrange the balls on your tray in rows of three. Cover loosely with a piece of cling film and leave somewhere warm to prove again for a further 1 hr or until doubled in size, the buns should be just touching.
Heat oven to 180˚C. Brush the buns with a little beaten egg. Mix the remaining flour with enough water to make a thick paste, then transfer to a piping bag fitted with a small round nozzle, or use a sandwich bag and snip off one corner. Use the paste to pipe crosses over the buns. Start at the top and do a straight line to the bottom over all the buns and then do the horizontal lines over all the buns. Bake for 25 mins until golden and cooked through.
The buns will keep for up to 3 days in a tin or freeze for up to 3 months.
Meanwhile, make the spiced honey butter. Put the butter, spices and honey in a bowl and beat with an electric whisk until smooth. Transfer to a bowl. When the buns are cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 mins on the baking tray.