You don’t need to know anything else bar those three delightful words that bring the promise of all-time favourite loved by all. They may not be the focal point of our Easter celebrations but I would hazard a guess that they would be sorely missed if someone forgets to put them in the basket whilst shopping.
Though as ever that nagging question starts to surface again, how hard can it be to coin a popular phrase?
So to the kitchen I go and start to prepare, though for some reason, maybe I was awash with confidence but instead of sorting all my ingredients out on my worktop before I began like I usually do I had just decided to dive straight in. I had scalded the milk that was now slowly cooling, I had whisked my eggs and I had even started my yeast on its journey to happiness. Then I came to needing some flour, uh ho! The cupboard was bare and I briefly danced with the idea of just using plain flour but then rejected that notion, it just wouldn’t be the same. Then the clouds parted and in the dazzling light I saw it, tucked up in the back left corner of the lowest shelf a 1.5kg bag of strong white bread flour, though on closer inspection I find it is apple and cinnamon flavoured, least I now remembered why it was stored where it was.
So, a crushed passion for a tasty crispy tea time snack or that passion realised with a distinctly apple and cinnamon twang. I talked myself into thinking that they would probably be quite nice and you know what, they were indeed.
As for the recipe I turned to my most trusted tomb, Leiths baking bible. I know I have said it before but I will say it again do check out their range of books, informative, educational and loads of gorgeous recipes.
So what do we need for this culinary wonder….?
- 200ml milk
- 20g fresh yeast
- 55g caster sugar
- 450g strong white bread flour (apple and cinnamon wins the day)
- ½ tsp salt
- 4 tsp ground mixed spice
- 2 eggs beaten
- 115g raisins
- 30g of mixed peel diced
- Sweetened milk (for the glaze)
- 115g flour (for the white cross)
- Spoonfull of water
Scald the milk and then allow to cool to body temp.
Mix the yeast and 2tsp of the sugar with a couple of spoonfuls of the warm milk.
Sift the flour, spices and salt into a large mixing bowl and with your finger tips rub in the butter. Then add the remaining sugar and make a well in the middle of your flour. Pour in the eggs and the yeast mix and enough of the milk to make a soft dough.
Knead the dough by hand for 10 minutes or 6 minutes in a mixer. Once the dough is smooth and elastic put it into a greased bowl with enough spare room so it can double in size. Cover with some oiled cling-film and a tea towel draped over the top and set aside somewhere warm for an hour and a half.
Put the oven on with a shelf set in the middle so that it heats up to 200C.
Check on your dough and it should be at least double its original size, if not leave it for another half an hour until it is. When it is remove from the bowl onto a lightly dusted work top and lightly knead again for a minute. Roll out flat till the dough is about 1/2cm thick and then sprinkle your raisins and mixed peel all over. Fold the dough up and knead gently for a couple of minutes to make sure the fruit is evenly distributed throughout the dough.
Split the dough into equal sized portions, the recipe states 16 but I only made 8 as 16 seemed to make them far too small in my opinion. Shape each portion into a nice bun shape and place on a baking try that you have either dusted or oiled. With a sharp knife cut a cross into the top of each bun and set aside till they double in size again.
When they have finished brush the top of each bun with the sweetened milk (we used condensed sweet milk from the tin mixed with an ordinary milk).
Mix 115g of flour with just enough water to make a paste with the consistency of toothpaste and put into a plastic syringe or small piping bag and use to make the cross on the top stand out.
Pop into the oven for 20 minutes and remove briefly. Now either brush your buns again with the sweetened milk or some heated up and melted apricot jam, this will add an amazing shine to your finished buns.
Pop them back into the oven for another 5 minutes.
Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.
When you are ready to eat split your bun into two and toast it.
Serve with lashings of butter, some lovely jam of your choice (we opted for an apricot one) and a cup of your favourite brew.
Have you ever made your own hot cross buns?
Are you tempted to give it a whirl for this years’ Easter surprise for the family?
* Hartley’s provided me with a hamper full of baking ingredients needed to create hot cross buns.