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Hot Cross Buns

Fill your kitchen and your home during this Easter time with the spicy aroma of the very best home made Hot cross buns, made with real ground spices and baked with love for your family and friends!   One of the highlights on the calendar of worldwide annual baking traditions are these buns. A feeling of expectation arises when the pervasive spicy aroma of flavourful yeast-risen buns fill the air in many home kitchens.   Be sure to also try the recipe for Hot Cross Hybrid (Pain Au Chocolat), an Easter-themed pastry.

Prep time 1 hour
Cook time 30 minutes
Yields 16 –20 buns

1 or 2 x 8 g sachets instant yeast (depending on time)
2 cups (500 ml) High or Standard grade flour
1 cup (250 ml) lukewarm milk
¼ cup (60 ml) butter
½ cup (125 ml) brown or white sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) salt
1 tsp (5 ml) ground cinnamon
1 tsp (5 ml) mixed spice
½ tsp (2.5 ml) ground ginger
½ tsp (2.5 ml) grated nutmeg
¼ tsp (1 ml) ground cloves
1 tsp (5 ml) cocoa powder
2 eggs
½ cup (125 ml) seedless raisins
¼ cup (60 ml) sultanas or mixed cake fruit
2 cups (500 ml) extra cake flour

Piping mixture for crosses
½ cup (125 ml) cake flour
2 Tbsp (30 ml) butter
± ¼ cup (60 ml) water

Icing Glaze
1 cup (250 ml) icing sugar
± 2 Tbsp (30 ml) milk

1. Mix the yeast with the first measure of flour in a mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the remaining ingredients, except extra flour and mix well.
2. Add sufficient of the extra flour gradually to form a soft, slightly sticky dough and turn out the dough onto a floured surface if kneaded by hand. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes or until smooth, no longer sticky and elastic.
3. Flour the bowl if kneaded by hand, return the dough, sprinkle with flour, cover tightly and allow to rise in a mildly warm spot for about 30 minutes until doubled.
4. Knead down the dough lightly with floured hands, pinch off egg-sized (± 60 g) balls and shape neatly. Line and grease a rectangular baking tray (± 38 x 28 cm) with butter and place the balls slightly apart (±2.5 cm apart) on the tray to allow space for rising.
5. To make the piping mixture, rub together the flour and butter or margarine until evenly blended and stir in enough water to form a smooth soft paste. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a small (1 cm) plain nozzle. Pipe the mixture over all the buns in one direction, without stopping and then in the other direction to form neat crosses over all the buns – in other words not one by one.
6. Place the buns uncovered in a mildly warm protected spot to rise for 20 – 30 minutes or until doubled. Pre-heat the oven to 170 °C and bake about 20 minutes or until well-risen, lightly browned and firm to the touch. Remove the buns to a cooling rack.
7. Mix together the ingredients for the glaze and brush or drizzle over the slightly warm buns to create a sweet, shiny finish. Serve fresh and slightly warm with butter and if preferred with cheese and honey.

Original recipe by Carolié de Koster from the Art Of Cooking recipe book page 862. Updated version April 2019.