Easter is one of the two big food events of the year in our family, along with Christmas. Traditions must be observed and no matter whether we are home or away – even camping – there has to be the full roast with all the trimmings. Pork is the preference – with lots of crackle and home-made apple sauce. And of course, hot cross buns.
Easter is early this year, the first weekend in April - so it’s time to get baking the hot cross buns! If your family (like half of mine) don’t like sultanas or any dried fruit, you can substitute choc chips. They freeze well, and just need to be heated in the oven or toasted.
Hot Cross Buns
Prep time: 20 minutes + rising time Cooking time: 30 minutes
- 1 ¼ cups milk
- ¼ cup caster sugar
- 2 x 8g sachets dried yeast
- 4 cups plain flour
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons mixed spice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 60g butter, at room temperature
- 1 ½ cups sultanas
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- ¼ cup self-raising flour
- 2 tablespoons apricot jam
In a microwave safe jug, heat the milk for just over a minute or until warm. Add the caster sugar and stir until dissolved. Mix in the dried yeast. It is important at this stage that the milk is warm enough to activate the yeast but not too hot. Leave this mixture for 5 – 10 minutes or until it froths up a little.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, mixed spice and salt. Rub through the butter with your fingertips until it is evenly distributed. Stir in the eggs and the yeast mixture with a wooden spoon until it comes together in a dough.
Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead by hand for 5 minutes until stretchy and smooth. Alternatively, place in the bowl of an electric mixer with the dough hook attachment and knead for 5 minutes. Place the dough in a large, greased bowl covered with plastic wrap.
Place in a warm place for 45 minutes until is rises to almost twice its size. (If there are no warm or sunny spots in the kitchen, put the bowl under the range hood light or under the heat lamps in the bathroom.)
Knead the dough for a couple of minutes a second time, then divide into 12 balls. Place the balls on a greased baking tray, pressed up against each other. For tall hot cross buns, I put mine into a greased 26cm springform cake tin. Cover and leave in a warm place for another 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180*C.
Combine the self-raising flour with two tablespoons of water and mix well. Place in a small piping bag with a narrow nozzle, or a plastic bag with a tiny piece of the corner snipped off. Pipe a cross onto each of the buns.
Bake for 25 minutes or until the buns are risen and sound hollow when tapped. Heat the jam with a little water in the microwave and brush over the hot buns to glaze.