There is something so comforting about the sweet cinnamon aroma of Hot Cross Buns baking in the oven, evoking childhood memories of hot, toasted buns with glistening melted butter running down the fingers to be licked up afterwards and a cup of strong tea to wash it all down with.
340g (12 oz) flour
Pinch of salt
5ml (1 tsp) allspice
2.5ml (1/2 tsp) cinnamon
Pinch ground cloves
60g (2 oz) butter
85g (3 oz) caster sugar
155g (5 1/2 oz) raisins or mixed dried fruit
10ml (2 tsp) dried yeast
150ml (2/3 cup) warm milk
30g (1 oz) sugar in 30ml (2 tbs) warm water.
Sift flour, salt and spices together.
Rub the butter in and add all of the sugar except 5ml (1 tsp).
Add raisins or dried fruit.
In a small bowl, dissolve 5ml (1 tsp) sugar in warm milk and sprinkle dried yeast over it.
Leave for 10 minutes and then mix until the yeast has dissolved.
Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the yeast sponge and egg.
Start incorporating the flour in from the sides by hand until it is well mixed in.
Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface.
Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic.
The dough is ready when a floured finger doesn’t leave a hole when pushed in.
Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, turning the dough to coat with oil and cover the bowl with a cloth.
Allow to rise in a warm, draught-free place for about an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
Knock back and leave for 10 minutes.
Cut the dough into 12 pieces.
Form each piece into a ball by rolling in between floured palms and put onto a warm, lightly oiled baking tray.
Make a cross on each one either with a sharp knife before they rise, or cover with a damp cloth and leave to rise first for 10 minutes and then pipe a cross on with stiff dough made from flour and water.
Bake for 12 minutes in a preheated oven, 180ºC (356ºF).
Brush with glaze as soon as the buns come out of the oven.
Remove the buns from the baking tray and cool on a wire rack.
NOTES: Testing the warmth of the milk – When the milk is just starting to heat a little, take a few drops on a teaspoon and drop onto the inside of the wrist. It should feel pleasantly warm, but not hot. If it’s too hot it will kill the yeast.
Kneading the Dough – Use the heels of the hands to push the dough away from you and then use the fingers to fold it back towards you. If the dough is too sticky, add a bit of flour to your hands and continue kneading until the dough is soft and elastic and does not stick to the surface.
Knocking Back – Push a fist into the center of the dough and then push the edges down over the center until the dough is flattened again. Only do this for as long as it takes to get the air out otherwise the dough will be come out tough.
Cross – The flour and water dough must not be too stiff otherwise it will shrink in baking and will be too hard to eat.