To put it mildly, my sister Sophie (Alec’s mum) has an obsession with Hot Cross Buns. To the extent that I got a text from her on the 21st January asking if it was the season to indulge in them already. After quite a long text conversation, it was in fact decided that that was pushing it a bit even for her. It unfolds that she only cracked once before lent, and when I say once, I mean with two packets. She believes this to be a great achievement.
I know that some will say that they shouldn’t be eaten until Good Friday, but I couldn’t possibly break that to her, so in honour of her (relatively) remarkable restraint and the fact that is now Lent (when we concluded it is truly permissible to eat them) I have made her some Hot Cross Buns and here I post a delicious recipe for this excellent Easter treat. They are so excellent a treat in fact that I realised yesterday that I never used to like raisins until it became evident that I had to because they are in Hot Cross Buns. Some might say the obsession runs in the family.
450g strong white flour
2 sachets dried yeast
Generous pinch of salt
3 tsps mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
55g caster sugar
85g room temperature butter
2 eggs, beaten
100g mixture of raisins and currants
40g chopped mixed peel
4 tbsps plain flour
Place the milk in a small pan a bring up to the boil. Remove from the heat and add the butter. Allow the butter to melt and the milk cool a little.
Place the flour, yeast, salt, mixed spice, cinnamon and sugar in a large bowl. Add the beaten eggs to the milk and butter mixture and mix in thoroughly. The milk should be lukewarm by now, check that it is and then mix into the flour until well combined. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. You can tell it’s ready by forming it into a ball and when you prod it, the indentation should spring back out.
Place in a large bowl and cover with cling film. Set the bowl somewhere warm and leave to rise for about an hour, until it has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 200c. Take the dough out and knead a little, then knead in the currants and mixed peel. Shape into twelve buns (approx 86g each) and place on a dusted baking tray close together, but with space to grow. Cover with cling film and leave to sit for about 20 minutes. They will be ready when you prod them and this time the indentation does not spring back out.
While they’re proving, make the paste for the cross by combining the plain flour with 4 tbsps of water, place this mixture into a piping bag with a medium size nozzle.
Place in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes until golden and hollow sounding when tapped on the bottom.
While they’re in the oven, gently heat the golden syrup. Transfer the buns to a wire rack and brush with the syrup. When ready to eat, lightly toast them (under the grill) and spread with butter.