Celebrate the easter season with this delightful homemade hot cross buns recipe. Note – buy more ingredients than needed – as more batches will be required!
Recipe Sarah Heeringa. Photography Amanda Reelick
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For the buns
500g strong bread flour, I use Chantal Organics Stoneground Bread Flour
1 tsp salt
75g soft brown sugar
1 tbsp active dry yeast, I use Edmonds Surebake Yeast
1 free-range egg, beaten
2/3 cup sultanas, raisins or dried cranberries
zest and juice of 1 orange
1 apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg or mixed spice
2 tbsp oil
For the crosses
1/2 cup plain flour
For the glaze
1/3 cup white sugar
Method – buns
Place the milk in a small pot and bring it just to the boil, then remove from the heat and add the butter. Leave to cool until it is warm and add the sugar and yeast. Set this aside for a few minutes. Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre. Pour in the warm milk, butter and yeast mixture, then add the egg. Using a wooden spoon, mix well, then using damp hands, bring everything together until you have a sticky dough.
Tip all the dough onto 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 minutes until smooth and elastic. Lightly oil the bowl and put the dough back in it. Brush the top of the dough with half of the oil. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave the bowl in a warm place to rise for 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size. (A simple test is to gently press the dough with your finger and see if it leaves a dent.)
Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and knead into the dough, until everything is well mixed. Brush the top of the dough with the remainder of the oil. Cover again with the tea towel and leave for 1 hour in a warm place for the dough to rise, or double in size.
Divide the dough into 15 even pieces. Use damp hands and a lightly floured work surface to shape each piece into a ball. Grease a baking tray with a little butter and arrange the buns on the tray, leaving room for the dough to expand. Cover with a clean tea towel and set aside for 1 hour more.
Preheat the oven to 220°C or 200°C fan bake.
For the crosses
Mix the flour with just enough cold water (about 5 tbsp) to make a thick paste. Spoon the paste into a piping bag with a small nozzle, or plastic bag with the end snipped off. Pipe lines along each row of buns, first one way, then the other to make the crosses. Bake for 15-20 minutes on the middle shelf of the oven, until golden brown.
For the glaze
Combine the sugar and 2/3 cup water in a small pan and bring to a rolling boil. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the liquid forms a sticky glaze. While the glaze is still hot, brush over the top of the warm buns.
Serve warm with lashings of butter!