Yesterday we made our first batch of hot cross buns. It was time. And they were delicious.
Making any kind of yeasted, sweet, sticky buns is cooking nirvana for me. The way the dough feels, the kitchen smells and the end results taste - it really is my idea of a good time. So yesterday Alice, her cousin Grace and I hit the kitchen. The girls helped measure out the ingredients then knead, pipe and glaze, and the whole process put us all in a warm/fuzzy/Easter-y mood. In case you feel like a spot of aimless baking too...here's our recipe.
Cocoa and spice hot cross bunsThis is a fairly sticky dough so it helps if you have a mixer with a dough hook. Otherwise of course you can knead the dough by hand but prepared to get a little bit messy!
4 cups plain flour
4 tsp instant yeast
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup best quality cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons Herbies ‘sweet spice dust’ mix (this stuff is amazing) or mixed spice
pinch of salt
1 cup currants
2 eggs, lightly beaten
For the flour mix - about 1/2 cup plain flour and 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Combine the flour, yeast, sugar, cocoa, spices, salt and currants in the bowl of an electric mixer with a dough hook or just a large bowl. Then place the butter and milk in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook until the butter has melted into the milk. Remove from heat and let cool a little (you want the mixture to be lukewarm). Add the milk and butter mixture to the dry ingredients then pour in the eggs.
Knead with the dough hook for 10 minutes or until the mixture is smooth and elastic (but still a little sticky). Or tip mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand. If using the electric mixer, still finish up with a few minutes kneading by hand. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours or until it has almost doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 180C. Divide the dough into 12 even-sized pieces (this is fun for the kids to do), and place them about 1cm apart on a tray lined with baking paper, leave to rest again for 30 minutes more.
Meanwhile, make the flour paste by just mixing together the flour and spice mix (or cinnamon) and just enough water to make a thick paste. Spoon this into a piping bag or plastic sandwich bag and snip off the bottom corner. Once the buns have rested, pipe crosses on each. Your buns are now ready for the oven!
They should take between 30/35 minutes to cook but check after 30 (the buns will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom). Towards the end of the cooking time, make the glaze by combining the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring often, and cook for a few minutes until you have a nice syrup happening. Brush the buns with sugar syrup as soon as they come out of the oven and they are done! We had these yesterday with just a smear of butter and cups of tea and hot chocolate. Makes 12.