Hot cross buns

Hot cross buns

Hot cross buns will always remind me of the first day I arrived in London, not as a tourist anymore, but that time to stay…It wasn’t our first relocation, but it caused me a weird sensation: the excitement of a new adventure on one side, the uncertainty of what how our lives would have been in this new country, on the other. And with a baby on his way! 

For some long to explain reasons, I arrived on my own in the early morning, while my husband joined me on a different flight later that day. So, I found myself in a totally unknown neighbourhood in North West London, looking for a place to have a comforting breakfast. I found a little bakery (only few months later I got to know that it belonged to was a very well known franchising who baked one of the most delicious bread in the city!) with a lot of appetizing pastries. It was Easter time and among others, there were those small buns marked with a cross on top. Never seen, I had to try one! They were good, very good, and their taste was made even more special from the personal situation I was living at that moment.

As soon as I had the occasion I wanted to replicate these spiced sweet buns, usually eaten in Great Britains on Good Friday ; according to tradition, the cross symbolizes the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the flavouring inside represents the spices used to embalm him at his burial. The most common version of the hot cross buns is with raisins and currants, but currently there are lots of variations available, such as toffee, apple and cinnamon, orange and cranberries.

This recipe is from the British celebrity chef Paul Hollywood, with some slight adaptation.

Hot cross buns

March 10, 2018
: 12 buns
: Medium
  • For the buns:
  • 500g strong bread flour
  • 10g salt
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 10g instant yeast
  • 40g unsalted butter softened
  • 2 medium eggs lightly beaten
  • 120ml warm whole milk
  • 120ml water
  • 150g raisins
  • 80g chopped mixed peel
  • zest of 2 oranges
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • For the crosses
  • 75g plain flour
  • 75ml water
  • For the glaze:
  • 75g apricot jam
  • Step 1 Put the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer with hook attachment. Add salt and sugar on one side and yeast on the other. This is not to compromise rising (see notes)
  • Step 2 Add the eggs, milks, butter and half of the water. Start mixing with a fork and add the water a bit at a time, until you get all the flour from the bowl. The dough should be soft but not too wet, so just add the quantity of water you need to get that consistency
  • Step 3 Turn on the mixer at medium low speed and knead until you have a nice smooth dough (abot 10min)
  • Step 4 Put the dough in a lightly foured bowl and cover with cling film. Leave to proof for about 2-3 hours or until double in size
  • Step 5 When ready, knock back the dough onto a floured worktop and add the raisins, cinnamon and mixed peels. Knead until well incorporate and set aside to raise for another hour
  • Step 6 Divide the dough into 12 pieces and roll into ball, then place them on a tray lined with parchment paper. Cover and set aside for a third proofing (this time it’ll take less time)
  • Step 7 In the meantime prepare the mix for the crosses, mixing the water and flour into a thick batter. Place in a piping bag and snip off the tip. Mark a cross on each bun
  • Step 8 Preheat the oven at 200ºC and bake for about 25min or until golden brown
  • Step 9 Take the buns out of the oven and brush with a little jam lightly warmed and diluted with a bit of water. This will give moistness and shine to the buns

*Tips and notes*

  • Salt and sugar in high concentrations can kill yeast, that’s why are kept separated from the yeast in the mixer bowl. Both are hygroscopic substances, which means that they suck water out of the dough, causing osmotic stress to the yeast cells and eventually death of the yeast cells

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