Perfect Hot Cross Buns, spiced bread dough studded with cranberries, sultanas and apples. Perfect for an Easter Breakfast.
Easter is most certainly on its way; even at Christmas you do not see such an abundance of chocolate in the shops! As well as chocolate there are fluffy baby chicks and pastel table decorations aplenty. But nothing says Easter to me as much as the piles and piles of Hot Cross Buns sold everywhere, as these still remain one of the few foods that you can’t buy all year round.
I haven’t eaten a shop bought Hot Cross Bun for a long time, not being able to eat the butter they are usually full of, so this year I thought I would tackle making them from scratch – and what a great result! I’m not going to lie… they take quite a long time and a lot of organisation but it is so worth the effort. This recipe suggests proving the dough overnight which means that if you want to eat them for breakfast on a Sunday (before midday!), you’ll start the dough on Friday night and bake them on the Saturday. The effort is really worth it though; the dough becomes light yet chewy, and the spices have time to permeate the dough ensuring their flavour stands out against the sweet fruits. These Hot Cross Buns are a mixture of the traditional and the new; more fruity than usual with cranberries, apples and sultanas, and very aromatic with orange zest and mixed spice instead of just cinnamon. You can easily play around with these flavours and add or take away as you wish – for example, add ground cardamon instead of mixed spice, or change the flavours all together and replace with chocolate, cranberry, cinnamon and ginger for a twist.
After the effort and time of baking these, serve them on a beautifully decorated table (look here for a quick and simple idea, ideal for Easter), just warmed through in the oven, split in half and lightly spread with dairy free butter. In all honesty, who could imagine a better Easter breakfast than that? It might just make you wish we could eat these all year round… This recipe is adapted from Paul Hollywood’s ‘How To Bake’. Makes 15 Hot Cross Buns, takes 2 hours plus proving, resting, baking and cooling time. For the buns:
- 500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 65g caster sugar
- 1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 level tsp mixed spice
- 10g salt
- 8g instant yeast
- 40g dairy free butter (I used Pure Sunflower)
- 2 medium eggs, beaten
- 120ml non dairy milk (I used almond milk, but any non dairy variety would work)
- 120ml water
- 75g sultanas
- 75g dried cranberries
- 80g chopped mixed peel
- Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
- 1/2 dessert apple, peeled and cored
For the crosses:
- 75g plain flour
- 75ml water
For the glaze:
- 3 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp water
- Add the flour, sugar, spices, salt and yeast to the bowl, being careful to place the yeast and salt at opposite sides. Add the butter, eggs, milk and half the water and use your hands to incorporate it into a rough dough. Continue to add the remaining water until the dough is soft, sticky and picks up all the flour from around the bowl.
- Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 5 – 10 minutes until the dough is soft and smooth.
- Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with clingfilm. Leave to prove at room temperature until at least doubled in size (about 2 hours) but ideally leave in the fridge to prove overnight (or longer – I left mine in the fridge for 20 hours and it was fine).
- When the dough is almost doubled in size, grate the apple using the largest setting on a box grater. Dry off the apples slightly using a piece of kitchen paper.
- Once risen, tip onto a generously floured work surface and scatter the sultanas, cranberries, mixed peel, zest and grated apple over the top. Knead together until all the ingredients are evenly incorporated in the dough. Leave to rest at room temperature in the same bowl covered with clingfilm for 1 hour.
- When the dough is almost fully rested, line 1 large or 2 medium size baking trays with baking paper and preheat your oven to 220 degrees.
- Tip the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured work surface and fold the dough into itself until all the air has been knocked out. Divide into 15 equal pieces and shape into balls (pull the edges of your piece of dough into the centre until it forms a ball shape. Pinch the edges together, flip it so the edges are now on the work surface, and then use the sides of your palms to cup the dough and pull it down so it is shaped into a neat ball).
- Space out the buns on the trays so that they are fairly close, but not touching – try and get them as straight as possible, it will make piping the crosses easier. Cover with lightly oiled clingfilm and leave to rest for 45 minutes, or until the dough springs back quickly if you lightly prod it.
- When the buns are ready to bake, quickly make the dough for the crosses by mixing the flour and water together. Spoon into a piping bag, snip the end off, then slowly pipe the crosses over the buns.
- Bake for 15 – 18 minutes until golden brown. Gently warm the honey and water together and then brush over the tops and sides of the buns to glaze them (if you are reheating the buns, don’t glaze them yet – do this straight after reheating otherwise they will lose their shine). Cool on a wire rack.
- To reheat, put back in the oven for 8 – 10 minutes at 150 degrees.