For as long as I can remember, Easter has always been celebrated with some hot cross buns in my family. Hot cross buns are small, spiced, sticky, glazed fruit buns with pastry crosses, which are traditionally eaten on Good Friday. Served as a classic Easter treat, the buns can also be enjoyed at any time of year.
Ingredients 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 ( I left this out as I’m not keen on peel)
zest 1 orange
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Ingredients for the cross:
75g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
Ingredients for the glaze:
3 tbsp apricot jam
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 into a free standing mixer bowl.
Make a well in the centre. Pour in the warm milk and butter mixture, then add the egg.
Mix well using a dough hook attachment until everything comes together and you have a sticky dough.
With the dough still in the bowl, tip in the sultanas, mixed peel, orange zest and cinnamon. Mix until all ingredients are evenly distributed.
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.
Divide the dough into 15 even pieces (about 75g per piece) 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.
Heat oven to 200C. Mix the 75g of 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.
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.