I love hot cross buns, but for some weird reason, only make them during Easter. Maybe I just use Easter as an excuse to make them, but I shouldn’t need an excuse to make these delectably spiced, fluffy buns. The past few years I’ve used Pioneer Woman’s recipe which served me well but didn’t quite hit the spot. I wanted a hot cross bun (or HXB as the hubs has termed it) that was soft, moist and fluffy. As such, I decided to try a new recipe this year. I found this recipe after searching for “fluffy hot cross buns”. This recipe was titled “Guaranteed Fluffy Hot Cross Buns” so I decided to give it a shot.
The results were great! These HXBs really hit the spot. They are very fluffy, soft, flavorfully spiced and moist. The buns were also bursting with fruit. I made two batches – the first batch had diced crystallized ginger and the second batch I used ginger powder (because I ran out of crystallized ginger). Both were great. In my second batch I also added in some Fiori di Sicilia (something like an orange essence) to give it that added oomph. You can use any dried fruit that you would like. I used a mixture of whatever I had on hand – raisins, cranberries and apricots. Soaking the dried fruits in the black tea helps plump them up and ensure that they remain nice and juicy. The original recipe also called for apricot jam as a glaze. I didn’t want to buy a jar of apricot jam for 2 tablespoons of it so used PW’s method of glazing instead. Results were great.
Though Easter is over, I am sure I will make these again whenever the craving sets in.
Hot Cross Buns
(taken and adapted from here)
For the Starter Sponge:
- 2 level teaspoons of instant yeast
- 100ml warm water
- 55g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 egg, beaten
For the Dough:
- 455g plain flour, and more for kneading
- 85g caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 heaped teaspoons of mixed spices (I used 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon cloves and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, plus 1/4 teaspoon of allspice)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia (optional)
- 85g butter, melted
- 120ml milk
- 255g mixed dried fruit (whatever you have)
- 1 cup of good black tea
- 1 eggs white + a splash of milk (for the glaze)
For the Cross ‘icing’:
- 2 tablespoons plain flour
- 2 tablespoons water
- Put together your starter sponge. Put the water in a small bowl. Add the egg, yeast, flour and sugar then mix well and cover the bowl. Leave to sit in a warm, draught-free place for about half an hour or longer if it is not puffy by then. I left mine for about an hour. Once the sponge is puffy and bubbly, it is ready to use.
- Place your dried fruit in another small bowl and cover with the boiling tea. Make sure your tea has brewed long enough to impart plenty of flavour. This will make the fruit plump and flavorsome. Cover and pop it somewhere out of the way for around 20 minutes.
- While the fruit and sponge sit and grow, place the dry ingredients for the dough (flour, spices, ginger, sugar, salt, baking powder) into a bowl and mix together. Drain your fruit well and sit aside.
- Once the starter sponge is ready, add the milk, butter, and Fiori di Sicilia (if using) to the dry dough ingredients. Mix until it begins to come together, then add in the starter sponge and mix well. You can do this in a stand mixer using the dough hook.
- The dough will be incredibly sticky at this point. Flour your bench very well and knead the dough until it is soft and springy. It will take in about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of plain flour during kneading or more. Once you are happy with the dough consistency, flatten it out into a rough rectangle, sprinkle the fruit over the top and knead it in briefly, until evenly distributed. You can also do this in a stand mixer.
- Once soft enough to handle, place it in a clean, greased bowl and cover with cling-wrap. Place it in a warm spot and allow it to rise until it has doubled in size, this should take about an hour.
- Check the dough after an hour. If it is nice and puffy, take it out, briefly knock it back to knead a little and then replace in the bowl to sit for a further half an hour.
- Once the dough has risen again, knock it back just enough so that you can work with it and divide the dough into 12 even pieces (for large buns or 24 pieces for smaller buns). Roll the pieces into balls and spread them out in a greased 32 x 25cm pan with nice deep sides. Cover the pan and set aside for half an hour in that lovely warm, draught-free spot.
- While they rise, heat your oven to 400°F and mix together the flour and water to make a thin paste for the crosses. Once you’re happy with the consistency (just thin enough to flow smoothly), spoon the paste into a Ziploc sandwich bag and snip off a very small corner. Glaze the buns first with the mixture of egg white and a splash of milk before piping the crosses onto the hot cross buns.
- Pop the buns in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes.
- Once buns are done, they should register an internal temperature of 200°F.
- Let cool for about 10 minutes before serving. The buns also freeze very well and to reheat, just pop them into the microwave for about 30-40 seconds.