It felt a little surreal to be making hot cross buns last week, only to look up and see that we were in the middle of a blizzard! Still, once they were cooked, split in half and dripping with butter, they were the perfect accompaniment to a hot cup of tea, after a very cold dog walk/snowball fight!
450g strong white flour
50g caster sugar
2tsp ground mixed spice
1½tsp easy bake/blend dried yeast
125g mixed dried fruit and peel
for the crosses
4tbsp strong white flour
2tbsp cold water
for the glaze
2tbsp caster sugar
Place the flour, sugar, salt, spice and yeast into a large bowl and mix well. Add the butter and rub in using your fingertips until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the dried fruit. Then make a well in the centre , add the eggs and milk. Using your hand, stir the egg mixture, gradually combing the flour into the liquid to make a soft dough. Now turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 10min or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a damp tea towel or a clean plastic bag and leave in a warm place for about an hour or until doubled in size.
Knock the dough back to deflate it and turn it out onto the lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into 12 even sized pieces and shape them into neat balls. Place on a baking sheet, well spaced apart and cover with a plastic bag and leave to rise as before until doubled in size. To make the cross, mix the flour with enough cold water to make a smooth paste, spoon into a piping bag and pipe a cross onto each bun.
Cook at 200°C for 15min or until golden brown.
Meanwhile make the sticky glaze by heating the milk with the sugar until dissolved, then boil for 1min.
Brush over the buns as soon as they are cooked, then leave to cool.
P.S If you are a marzipan lover like me, then place a small walnut sized ball of marzipan in the middle of each bun when you shape them and then continue as above.
Did you know? The humble hot cross bun has been around for years; the ancient Egyptians offered up similar cakes to the moon goddess, while the Greeks and Romans made then for the goddess of light. It was the Saxons who gave them their crosses.