One of the things I most remember from my childhood were the Easter Sunday's and the Hot Cross Buns.
I would look forward to these delicious spicy buns, all year long, and then the day would come and I would go to the store with my Stepmom to buy them. I couldn't wait to get home and rip into that package, pull apart one of the buns and sink my teeth in.
And one of my favorite things????
The next morning, I would slice one in half, pop it in the toaster, and then enjoy it with a generous slathering of butter. YUM!
When I got married, I started making my own Hot Cross buns, and along the years I've tried many recipes, some have been good, some have been not so good....I'm very picky about my Hot Cross Buns and I'll tell you right now that I can't STAND seeing icing on a Hot Cross Bun. It drives me crazy! LOL
This recipe comes from one of my food heroes, Paul Hollywood. Adore this man and he has taught me how to bake bread without being overwhelmed or intimidated, and the results have been amazing bread loaves and a renewed love for bread.
These are BY FAR the best Hot Cross Buns I've had in a very long time. It will now become my only Hot Cross bun recipe every Easter.
Hot Cross Buns
FOR THE BUNS
300ml full-fat milk , plus 2 tbsp more (1 cup)
50g butter (4 tablespoons)
500g strong bread flour (3 cups)
1 tsp salt
75g caster sugar (half cup white sugar)
1 tbsp sunflower oil
7g sachet fast-action or easy-blend yeast
1 egg , beaten
75g sultanas (I used about 1/2 cup of raisins)
50g mixed peel (about 1/2 cup)
zest 1 orange
1 apple , peeled, cored and finely chopped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
FOR THE CROSS
75g plain flour , plus extra for dusting (1/2 cup)
about 5 Tablespoons
FOR THE GLAZE
3 tbsp apricot jam
Tip from Paul: When adding the salt and yeast to the flour, add each on opposite sides so they don't interfere with each other, as the salt will slow down the yeast.
Bring the milk to the boil, then remove from the heat and add the butter. Leave to cool until it reaches hand temperature. Put the flour, salt, sugar and yeast into a bowl. (see tip above)
Make a well in the centre. Pour in the warm milk and butter mixture, then add the egg. Using a wooden spoon, mix well, then bring everything together with your hands until you have a sticky dough.
Tip on to a lightly floured surface and knead by holding the dough with one hand and stretching it with the heel of the other hand, then folding it back on itself. Repeat for 5 mins until smooth and elastic. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hr or until doubled in size and a finger pressed into it leaves a dent.
With the dough still in the bowl, tip in the sultanas, mixed peel, orange zest, apple and cinnamon. Knead into the dough, making sure everything is well distributed. Leave to rise for 1 hr more, or until doubled in size, again covered by some well-oiled cling film to stop the dough getting a crust.
Divide the dough into 15 even pieces (about 75g per piece - see Tip below). Roll each piece into a smooth ball on a lightly floured work surface. Arrange the buns on one or two baking trays lined with parchment, leaving enough space for the dough to expand. Cover (but don't wrap) with more oiled cling film, or a clean tea towel, then set aside to prove for 1 hr more.
Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Mix the flour with about 5 tbsp water to make the paste for the cross - add the water 1 tbsp at a time, so you add just enough for a thick paste. Spoon into a piping bag with a small nozzle. Pipe a line along each row of buns, then repeat in the other direction to create crosses.
Bake for 20 mins on the middle shelf of the oven, until golden brown.
Gently heat the apricot jam to melt, then sieve to get rid of any chunks. While the jam is still warm, brush over the top of the warm buns and leave to cool.