TRADITIONAL HOT CROSS BUNS
Whether it is Easter or any time you need some comfort, this traditional hot cross bun recipe is guaranteed to make you feel the love.
- tablespoon instant or rapid rise yeast (9 grams) (Note 1 for active dry / normal yeast)
- 1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar (superfine sugar)
- 1 1/2 cups (375ml) milk, warm , full fat or low fat (Note 2)
- 4 1/4 cups (640g) bread flour (or plain / all purpose) (Note 3)
- 2 tsp cinnamon powder
- 2 tsp All Spice OR Mixed Spice (Note 4)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups (210g) sultanas (Note 4)
- 1 – 2 oranges, zest only (Note 4)
- 50g / 3.5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 egg , at room temperature
EXTRA FLOUR FOR DOUGH
- 1/4 cup (35g) Extra bread flour
- 1/2 cup (75g) flour (any white flour)
- 5 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp apricot jam (Note 7)
- 2 tsp water
Place flour, yeast, sugar, all spice, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Briefly mix with stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add butter, milk, egg, sultanas and zest.
Stand mixer: Mix until a smooth elastic dough forms – 5 minutes on Speed 2 of stand mixer. After 1 minute, add extra flour if required, just enough so dough comes away from side of bowl when mixing and doesn’t stick terribly to your fingers. (Note 5). Hand kneading: Alternatively, dust a work surface with flour and knead by hand for 10 minutes. Dough is kneaded enough when it’s smooth and does not break when stretched – see photos video for before/after comparison.
Leave dough in the bowl, cover with cling wrap and place in a warm, wind free place to rise until doubled in size. This will take anywhere between 30 minutes to 1 1/2 hours depending on how warm it is – see Note 6.
Line a 31.5 x 23.5 cm / 9 x 13″ tray with baking paper with overhang. Remove cling wrap and punch dough to deflate. Dust work surface with flour, place dough on work surface, shape into a log – this will deflate the air. Cut into 12 equal pieces. Take one piece and press down with palm, then use your fingers to gather into a ball, then roll the dough briefly to form a ball. This stretches the dough on one side and that’s how I get a nice smooth surface. Place the ball with the smooth side up on the tray. Repeat with remaining dough. Line them up 3 x 4.
RISE # 2:
Spray a piece of cling wrap lightly with oil (any), then loosely place over the tray. Return tray to warm place and leaver 30 – 45 minutes, until the dough has risen by about 75% (less than double in size). Partway through Rise #2, preheat oven to 180°C/350°F (all oven types).
Mix flour and water until a thick runny paste forms – see video for thickness required. Spoon into a round 3 mm piping bag or small ziplock bag then snip corner. Remove the cling wrap and pipe crosses onto the buns. Go slow so it hugs the curves.
Bake for 22 minutes, or until the surface is a deep golden brown. The surface colour is the best test for this recipe. Meanwhile, place jam and water in a bowl, microwave for 30 seconds. Mix to combine. Remove buns from oven. Use overhang to lift buns onto a cooling rack. Brush with jam mixture while warm. Allow to cool to warm before serving.
1. Yeast: Use any yeast labelled instant or rapid rise yeast.
Normal yeast / active dry yeast – same ingredients, but start as follows: mix yeast, 2 teaspoons of the sugar and all the warm milk in the bowl, then leave 5 – 10 minutes until surface gets foamy; add all the other ingredients (including remaining sugar minus the 2 tsp used above), then mix/knead per recipe; and proceed with recipe as written. Fresh yeast (comes in a block that crumbles, not powder like dry yeast) – use 27g/ 0.9 oz. Crumble it into the milk and let stand until it foams up, same as using active dry yeast per above.
2. Milk warmth – Scalding hot milk kills the yeast. I heat it for 45 seconds on high in the microwave. The test is this: stick your finger in. If it was a bath, would it be pleasant? Good. It’s not too hot or too cold!
3. Breads are also fluffier and more tender if made with bread flour rather than normal flour. However, this recipe works great with normal white flour too. Flour quantity – differs all year round, and with different flour brands. Start with 4 1/4 cups to be safe (better to start sticky and add more flour as required), expect to add an extra 1/4 cup. DO NOT add too much flour – results in dry dough = tough buns.
4. Flavourings Spices – All Spice is my default, but I also use Mixed Spice too and no one would ever know the difference. Sub with: 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp each cloves and nutmeg
Sultanas: Some recipes say to add sultanas after the dough has been kneaded or risen. If you do this, you’ll find it very hard to disperse them evenly throughout the dough. By adding them before kneading, some do get squished. But it’s not noticeable in the end result.
Orange – use 2 oranges if you want a more prominent orange flavour, or switch for 1/2 cup candied citrus peel.
5. Dough: Takes ~5 min, speed 2 with KitchenAide. Add the extra flour if required so the dough comes away from the bowl – the trick is to use the minimum to keep the dough soft so it rises easily fluffy buns), but just enough so the dough doesn’t massively stick to your fingers (should be bit sticky though). Tough dough from too much flour = tough buns!
6. WARM PLACE for dough: This is what I do all year round – use my dryer. Laugh – but try it! Run the (empty) dryer for 1 – 2 minutes, then place the bowl inside. If you do that, the dough will rise in 40 minutes. Even if it’s snowing outside!
7. Jam – sub with any jam to get the glossy finish. Apricot is best because it’s clear(ish). Red jams will have more colour. OR sub with honey or golden syrup (follow same amount and directions). Maple syrup – skip the water.
8. STORING / MAKE AHEAD:
As with all homemade bread, it is best served on the day it’s made. Stays fresher and softer if you use bread flour. For the day after, reheating makes all the difference to make them soft and moist again – 15 sec in the microwave! These freeze great, then just defrost. To reheat batches, I pop them on a tray and cover with foil (to avoid the surface getting too crisp), then reheat at 160C/320F for 8 minutes or so.
Recipe courtesy of RecipeTinEats