Normally I loathe the greed of retailers, bringing out Easter eggs before the shelves are cleared of Christmas decorations and candy canes. There is, however, one very important exception to this rule: I absolutely relish the fact that supermarkets and bakers seem to be offering Hot Cross Buns earlier and earlier with every passing year. Oh how I love them! Whether fresh or toasted with lashings of butter, I would happily eat Hot Cross Buns all year long.
They are in fact relatively easy to make and warm from the oven, they are the pinnacle of Hot Cross Bun goodness. If you have the time to spend a lazy afternoon pottering about the kitchen. I do encourage you to make some. I heed you a warning, however: unlike the store bought variety, these have no preservatives, so whatever you can't use within 1-2 days, I'd suggest you freeze the remainder.
15g Instant Yeast
400g Bread Flour (I use Wallaby's Bakers flour or Lighthouse Bread flour)
100g Cake/Pastry Flour (I use Lighthouse brand)
1 Tbsp Cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground clove
50g Brown sugar
50g Caster sugar
1 tsp salt
225g mixed dried fruit (whatever you fancy)
100g unsalted butter, melted
1 Tbsp milk
Combine dry ingredients (everything except the fruit) in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre. Combine wet ingredients in a smaller bowl and then pour the wet into the well in the centre of the dry ingerdients. Using a wooden spoon, gently incorporate the dry into the wet until it comes together into a sticky dough.
Lightly dust the bench top and empty contents of the large bowl onto the bench. Knead, incorporating additional flour as necessary to keep your hands from sticking, for a few minutes until the gooey mess comes together into a smooth dough. At this point, lightly oil a large bowl, put the dough inside the bowl, cover with plastic and leave to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until doubled in volume.
Punch the dough down and add your choice of dried fruit to the bowl. Give a little knead to combine, then separate the dough into plum sized rounds. Place the rounds on a greased baking tray, just touching.
Whisk together the egg and milk for the egg wash and brush the tops of the buns with the mix. Leave the buns for their final proof for about a 1/2 hour.
Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius while you get on with the cross paste.
125 g flour
50g unsalted butter, melted
30g milk powder (If you don't have this, reduce quantity of water and substitute with some milk)
pinch of Baking powder
pinch of salt
Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients until a thick, glue like consistency is reached. Add liquid little by little. If it is still too thick, continue to add more water until it is right.
Place mix into a piping bag or, failing that, sealed in a zip lock bag with a corner snipped off. Pipe crosses onto the fully proofed buns, which by now would have doubled in size. Place in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. Watch them carefully- oven temperatures vary enormously. They should be golden brown and should have a hollow sound when you knock on the underside of the buns. Enjoy them warm or toasted with butter. Mmmmm...... Butter.