Every year while I was growing up my dad would make fresh hot cross buns on Good Friday. Since moving out of home I missed the lovely smell of the fresh buns so have done the same. I like making them with chopped dried apricots and prunes instead of sultanas. Making your own is healthier for you and is another step down the road of self-sufficiency – after all, who wants to visit the supermarket over Easter?
Here is my dad’s recipe
- 1 Tbsp dried yeast
- ½ cup warm water
- ¼ cup sugar
- 50g butter
- 1½ cups milk
- 1½ tsp salt
- 4 cups standard white flour
- 3 tsp cinnamon (or more, to taste)
- 3 tsp mixed spice (or more, to taste)
- ½ cup currants, sultanas or mixed dried fruit
Mix half of the sugar and lukewarm water in a large glass or ceramic bowl. Add the yeast, gently stir, and leave the mixture to stand for a few minutes until its bubbly.
Gently melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the milk, heat until it is lukewarm (you should be able to hold your little finger in it and count to 10 with it feeling hot or cold), then stir in the remaining sugar and the salt. Put the flour on a roasting tray and warm it to body temperature in the oven.
Add the warm milk to the yeast mixture, then sift in about 2 cups of the warm flour, the cinnamon, the mixed spice and the dried fruit. Mix well with a wooden spoon, then cover the bowl with a plastic bag and stand it in a sink of lukewarm water until it is twice its original volume.
Add more of the warmed flour until the dough is not sticky, but keep the dough as soft as possible. Turn out onto a floured surface for kneading. Knead thoroughly for 4 to 5 minutes until it feels springy when you push your fingers into it. Using a sharp knife cut the dough in half, half again, then into thirds; giving you a total of 24 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Put them on greased trays around 1cm apart, leaving space for rising but so that when they rise they will touch each other. Cover lightly and stand in the sun (the trays, not you) or in a turned off slightly warm oven until they have doubled in size.
Meanwhile mix 2 tablespoons of flour with 1 tablespoon of oil and about one tablespoon of water. Put this in a small plastic bag, or a piping bag if you have one. When the buns have risen, cut the corner of the plastic bag (I poke a matchstick through) and squeeze a cross onto each bun. If the buns are lined up you can pipe one long line across several buns one ay, then one line across several the other way, rather than do each bun individually.
Bake in a hot oven at 220° C (425 F) for 10-15 minutes until tops are brown.
While they cook, warm two tablespoons of sugar with two tablespoons of water until the sugar disolves. Brush this over the buns as soon as they come out of the oven. If you don’t have a pastry brush, roll up a paper towel, fold it in half and use the open end as a brush. Better than nothing, but only just
Enjoy while they are fresh and warm!