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Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns are as synonymous with Easter as Fruit Mince Pies are with Christmas.  I cannot imagine Easter Weekend without them!  Be sure to also try the recipe for Hot Cross Pain Au Chocolat, an Easter-themed pastry.

500 ml bread flour or cake flour
10 g packet instant yeast
5 ml ground mixed spice
5 ml ground cinnamon
5 ml salt
2.5 ml ground cinnamon
2.5 ml ground nutmeg
1 ml ground cloves
100 ml white sugar
50 g butter
250 ml lukewarm milk
2 extra large eggs
100 g sultanas or raisins
15 ml orange or lemon zest (optional)
750 ml additional cake flour

Piping mixture for crosses
100 ml cake flour
40 g butter
50 ml water

Icing glaze
125 ml icing sugar
25 ml milk

  1. Mix the yeast with the cake flour in a mixing bowl, add all the remaining dry ingredients (except the extra flour) and mix well.
  2. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.
  3. Add the butter to the milk and pour the milk and the beaten eggs into the well.
  4. Add sufficient of the extra flour to form a soft yet sticky dough.
  5. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic or knead the dough for 3 to 4 minutes in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook.
  6. Transfer the dough to a floured plastic bowl, cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in size (about 40 minutes).
  7. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead down the dough for 5 minutes.
  8. Divide the dough into 20 equal pieces and roll each one into a ball.
  9. Place the dough balls on a greased baking tray (about 38 cm x 28 cm), leaving a little space (2,5 cm) between each ball for rising.
  10. For the topping, rub together the flour and butter until crumbly and evenly blended and stir in sufficient of the water to form a smooth paste.
  11. Spoon the topping into a piping bag fitted with a small, smooth nozzle (e.g. with an opening that is 3 mm in diameter) and pipe a cross onto each bun.
  12. Place the buns uncovered in a warm protected spot to rise until double in size – ± 30 minutes.
  13. Bake at 170 ˚C for 20 minutes until golden brown and well risen. Transfer the buns to a cooling rack.
  14. Mix together the ingredients for the glaze and brush over the slightly warm buns to create a sweet, shiny finish.
  15. Serve warm with butter and preserves.

Makes 20 buns

Notes

Storing:
Store the cooled buns in an airtight container for up to two days and reheat for a few minutes at 160˚C to serve slightly warm and fresh.
Freezing:
Freeze in an airtight container. Thaw for a short while and reheat as explained above.
Enlarging:
Make and bake comfortably in double batches.

Variations:
Brush the baked buns with warm honey or syrup.

Recipe by Carolié de Koster from her Art Of Cooking recipe book page 862.