I love baking Hot Cross Buns, from scratch. It is a yearly ritual here in our household and I bake them in bulk. I bake 2 dozen at a time as they usually disappear quite rapidly. I usually bake 2 batches, one to take to Church, and one to divide up and give as gifts to friends. You can get your children or other helpers to knead the dough as there is a decent amount of it and it will certainly give you a good workout as you prepare to eat your weight in chocolate on Easter Sunday. LOL You can also bake them at other times during the year, just leave the crosses off the top and vary the fruit you put in them. Cranberries and chopped dried apple are a fab combination that tastes delicious, as does chopped dried apricots and dates.
You can make these Hot Cross Buns by hand or use a stand mixer.
This recipe makes 24 buns.
500ml/2 cups warm water
4 Tblsp caster sugar
2 sachets instant yeast
5 cups plain flour
3 tsp mixed spice
3 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
1½ cup mixed dried fruit
50 g softened butter
2 free range eggs
Stir the water and sugar together until the sugar has dissolved.
Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl, add the instant yeast and mix in the dried fruit, then make a well in the centre.
Pour in the water, add the eggs and the softened butter. Mix until combined with a wooden spoon and then turn out onto a floured bench and knead the dough lightly.
This is a fairly moist dough so add extra flour if you need to during the kneading process. Knead the dough for about 10-15 minutes until it’s smooth.
Or put all the dry ingredients and the dried fruit mixture into the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.
Start the stand mixer on a low speed to mix the dry ingredients before slowly adding the water, eggs and softened butter. Knead on a low speed until everything is well combined and then knead for 10 minutes until the dough is soft and smooth.
Put the dough into a greased bowl and cover with greased cling film. Leave in a warm place till dough doubles in size, this should take around 45 minutes.
I usually leave the dough to rise in my stand mixer as it has a handy plastic cover that seals the bowl and provides the perfect place for the dough to rise. Be careful though, if you leave the dough to rise for too long it may overflow your mixer bowl.
Once the dough has risen, knock it back and then give it a quick knead. Divide the dough into 24 portions and shape them into balls. I usually pat the dough into a rough rectangle, cut that into 6, then each portion into 4. It’s a really easy way to end up with 24 portions and if you get your children help then you have a built in maths lesson for them.
Put the shaped buns onto a greased oven tray and cover with the greased cling film. Leave them to rise for around half an hour, whilst your oven preheats to 200C, and until they’ve doubled in size.
Top the Hot Cross Buns with crosses made by combining:
½ cup plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 Tblsp butter
5 Tblsp of water
I make the crosses mixture whilst the buns are rising. Mix the butter with some hot water so that it melts and combines. Leave for about 10 minutes to cool and then mix into the flour and baking powder.
The mixture needs to be soft enough to be piped. If you haven't got a piping bag, put the mixture into a plastic bag, squeeze it down to one corner then snip a tiny bit off the corner of the bag. Squeeze the mix through the hole making crosses on the top of each bun.
Bake the buns at 200°C for 15 minutes then brush with sugar glaze and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes or until they look cooked.
To make the Sugar Glaze dissolve 2 Tbsp Sugar in ¼ cup (60ml) warm water.
Cool the Hot Cross Buns on a wire rack and then either eat them, give them to friends or freeze them for later in a sealed, airtight bag.