More Brit Week: Hot Cross Buns

Hot cross buns! Hot cross buns!
One ha’ penny, two ha’ penny,
Hot cross buns!
If you have no daughters,
Give them to your sons
One ha’ penny,
Two ha’ penny,
Hot Cross Buns!

As I’ve mentioned before, I moved to the Bahamas and was suddenly thrown into all things British…..and I remember singing this song.  I had no idea that it was an actual food…….and I am a bit ashamed to admit, I tried them for the first time 6 years ago, when I helped two friends open up the one and only Fish and Chip shop in Barcelona.  I was intrigued by this little bun, with a big white cross on them….and I was told they are generally served on Good Friday.  Light bulb moment! Hence the cross.

I thought they were good, but there was nothing that really made me scream out….Wow, amazing!  Then this week, I decided I wanted to try to make them at home.  I dug out a recipe from one of my books, and let me tell you, I was MORE than pleasantly surprised!  If you have the time and inclination to make these at home, they are well worth it.  They compare nothing to the pre-fabricated versions you can buy at any store.  It really does them no justice.

They are more of a bread, than a pastry.  It does take time to proof, but the actual mixing part is a breeze if you have a stand up mixer.  The result is a moist, light and spicy bun that is not too sweet and perfect for breakfast or as an afternoon snack!

I did have to make my own Golden Syrup though, which is something that is very hard to come by here.  It was probably the most time-consuming part of this whole recipe, so if you have some already, don’t bother to make it.  Also, you might want to make more than just 12, as this recipe says, mine turned out to be enormous…..and I know they are actually supposed to be much smaller.

So, here’s what you’re going to need:

625 g

1 tsp salt

2 tsp mixed spices, such as cloves, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg

45 g unsalted butter, cut into cubes

85 g sugar

Zest from 1 lemon

1.5 tsp fast action yeast

1 egg

275 ml tepid milk

125 g sultanas

For the topping:

4 tbsp plain flour

Vegetable oil for greasing

1 tbsp golden syrup, heated for glazing

For the buns, sieve the flour, salt and ground mixed spice into the mixing bowl of your stand up mixer, then rub in the butter using your fingertips. Make a well in the center of the mixture, then add the sugar and lemon zest and yeast.

On low-speed with the paddle attachment, beat the egg and add to the flour with the tepid milk. Mix together to a form a soft, pliable dough.

Change to the dough hook, Carefully work the mixed dried fruit into the dough until well combined. Knead lightly for 5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.

Grease a large, warm mixing bowl with butter. Shape the dough into a ball and place it into the prepared bowl, then cover with a clean tea towel and set aside in a warm place for one hour to prove.

Turn out the proved dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knock back the dough. Shape it into a ball again and return it to the bowl, then cover again with the tea towel and set aside for a further 30 minutes to rise.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and divide it into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then flatten slightly into a bun shape using the palms of your hands. Cover the buns again with the tea towel and set aside to rest for 5-10 minutes.

Grease a baking tray with butter and transfer the buns to the tray. Wrap the tray with the buns on it loosely in greaseproof paper, then place inside a large bag. Tie the end of the bag tightly so that no air can get in and set aside in a warm place for a further 40 minutes to rise.

Preheat the oven to 240C.  Meanwhile, for the topping, mix the plain flour to a smooth paste with 2 tablespoons of cold water.  When the buns have risen, remove the bag and the greaseproof paper. Spoon the flour mixture into a piping bag and pipe a cross on each bun.

Transfer the buns to the oven and bake for 8-12 minutes, or until pale golden-brown. As soon as you remove the buns from the oven, brush them with the hot golden syrup, then set aside to cool on a wire rack.
From my kitchen to yours,