Monday, 24 March 2008

Hot Cross Buns

During Easter, I would always have Hot Cross Buns. As they are not readily available here in the Netherlands, I decided to make some myself this Easter. Once again, Donna Hays 'Modern Classics Book 2' provided the recipe and around 4pm on Easter Sunday, we were enjoying butter smothered buns straight from the oven. On other occasions, the same recipe can be used to prepare a simple fruit bun, without the cross.

For the buns:
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup caster (superfine) sugar
1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
4 1/4 cups plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
2 teaspoons mixed spice
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
50g melted butter
1 egg
1 1/2 cups sultanas
1/3 cup mixed peel, optional

For the cross:
1/2 cup plain (all-purpose) flour
1/3 cup water

For the glaze:
2 teaspoons apricot jam, strained if desired
2 teaspoons water, approximate

Place the milk into a bowl and warm in the microwave (or on the stove) on a low setting for 1-2 minutes until slightly warm. Sprinkle over the yeast and 2 teaspoons of the caster sugar. Set aside for 5 minutes during which time the mixture will start to foam, indicating that the yeast is active.

Add the flour, mixed spice, cinnamon, butter, egg, sultanas, mixed peel and remaining sugar to the yeast mixture and mix using a butter knife until a sticky dough forms. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 8 minutes or until it feels elastic. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and allow to stand in a warm place for 1 hour or until the dough doubles in size. Divide the dough into 12 pieces and roll into balls.

Grease a 23cm square cake tin and line with non-stick baking paper. Placed the dough balls in the tin, cover with a clean tea towel and set aside in a warm place for 30 minutes or until the buns have risen.

Preheat the over to 200 degrees Celsius. Combine the flour and water for the cross, place in a piping bag or a plastic bag with one corner snipped off, and pipe crosses on to the buns. Bake for 35 minutes or until well browned and springy to the touch.

Combine the jam and water in a bowl and heat in the microwave for 1 minute. The glaze should be syrupy but thin enough to brush onto the buns. Add more water if necessary. Remove the buns from the oven and brush with the warm glaze. Serve with butter. Makes 12.