Give yourself a little treat this Easter!

One of the fondest memories of my teenage years is when my dad took me to Europe for the first time after I graduated from high school.  We were visiting my uncle Eddie in the UK for a week, and one morning, I woke up to the lovely smell of cinnamon and spices filling the kitchen as he was toasting some sort of bread I’d never had before.  What he laid in front of me, I would never forget: beautiful golden brown buns with white crosses on top of them, with generous dollops of butter on the inside. I took a bite, and it tasted like Christmas in my mouth – warm, comforting, and aromatic. Their name? Hot cross buns.

That afternoon, I insisted on a trip to Marks & Spencer to source those beautiful hot cross buns, and bought 6 packs (of 6 each) to take home to Malaysia with me. Over the course of the next two months upon return, I carefully rationed the consumption of these cinnamon-y treasures that I would only share with mom and dad (if they behaved). To this day, a toasted hot cross bun with butter remains one of my favourite ways to start the morning.

It would be remiss of me not to bake hot cross buns this weekend for Easter, and below I share my take on this all-time favourite.

Ingredients – yields 12-15 buns

Dough:

¾ cup milk

5 tbsp butter (~75g)

½ tsp vanilla extract

Zest of 1 clementine (or orange)

3 ¾ cups all purpose flour

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground all spice

½ tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp salt

½ cup brown sugar

1 sachet of yeast

2 large eggs, room temperature

1/3 cup sultanas

1/3 cup raisins

1/3 cup dried cranberries

Crosses:

¼ cup all purpose flour

3 tbsp water

Glaze:

1 ½ tbps clementine juice

½ cup icing sugar

 

 

Tools required:

measuring cups

saucepan

two large bowls

spatula or a large spoon

baking tray

baking paper

piping bag (or zip lock bag)

pastry brush

 

Method

Place milk, butter, vanilla, clementine zest in a small saucepan and let it come to a simmer.

 

Meanwhile, lightly grease a large bowl and set aside.  In another large bowl, mix together flour, spices, salt, sugar and yeast with a large spoon or spatula.  Add eggs and combine, then pour the liquid from the saucepan into the bowl.  Combine until flour is completely folded into the dough, then begin kneading the dough on a floured surface, for about 5 minutes. Dust with additional flour as needed.  Once the dough is smooth and soft, place it into the lightly greased bowl, cover and let the dough prove for 1 hour in a warm area.

Prepare a baking tray by lining it with baking paper.

After resting, place the dough on a floured surface, flatten it and add raisins, sultanas and dried cranberries, then fold and roll into a baguette shape.  Cut the dough into 12-15 pieces. Roll each piece into a smooth ball, and place them on the baking tray. Cover and place in a warm area to prove for another 30 minutes.

Preheat oven at 180°C.

Prepare mixture for the cross by mixing flour and water in a bowl, then placing into a piping bag (without tip). If you do not have a piping bag, just use a zip lock bag and seal. Cut a tiny opening at the corner.

Pipe vertically then horizontally across the buns.

Bake for 18 minutes or until golden brown.

Meanwhile, prepare the glaze by mixing icing sugar and clementine juice. As soon as the buns are baked, remove from oven, and use a pastry brush to glaze the top of the buns.

Your Easter hot cross buns are ready! Serve them warm, with a dollop of butter.  Bon appétit!

 — Janice —

I used clementine because we had some handy but you can use an orange instead. These hot cross buns can be refrigerated for up to 5 days in a tightly sealed container. To reheat, simply cut in half and toast them, then serve warm with a dollop of butter.

Posted in Recipes

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