I always know when spring is around the corner, not only because of the warmer weather and the longer sun-filled days but because every bakery window I pass is filled with hot cross buns!
I’m not even sure when I started enjoying hot cross buns, I do know I wasn’t interested in them as a child (does this mean I’m getting old?). Maybe it’s the fact they only seem to come out once a year and it marks the arrival of spring for me. Or maybe it’s because I don’t know anything about these buns and they seem to disappear as quickly as they appeared, so I need to get my hands on them before they are gone!
The truth being told, I normally pick up my hot cross buns at Cobbs Bakery and then never think about it again. But this year, when I was writing my list of what to bake for Easter for the blog; I thought I should branch out and try something I haven’t done before! And for me the best way to learn about something new is to get my hands right in there and feel my way through.
So if you’re new to Hot Cross Buns, we can do it together! I did learn a few things that I’ll share with you and I spent a lot of time online researching Hot Cross Bun recipes, to discover there are a lot of different recipes out there and everyone seems to do it a little differently! If I could get ‘Cobbs Bread’ recipe I’d be a happy girl, sadly I didn’t get my hands on it.
If you’re not too sure what Hot Cross Buns should taste and look like, well, it’s a spiced sweet bun made with currants or raisins that is marked with a cross on the top, traditionally eaten on Good Friday. If you’d like to read about the history of Hot Cross Buns, click here to check it out on wikipedia.
My Tips on Making Hot Cross Buns for the first time
- First and foremost, don’t be too hard on yourself!! If you get it right on your first go, congratulations but most likely you’ll have to make the recipe a few times before you perfect it.
- Make sure your yeast hasn’t expired and is still active – if it doesn’t bubble and foam after the required time, it’s not working and you’ll have to go to the store and buy some fresh yeast.
- The best way to get that lovely citrus flavour is to infuse the citrus peel in a pot with your butter and milk and melt everything together. What I ended up doing was adding my peel right into my already kneaded dough which didn’t work very well. It was difficult to incorporate the peel because of the juices, which made a sticky mess.
- The currants were a pain in my … let’s say ‘buns’!! I followed a recipe and it told me to add them on the second kneading step! Don’t do this! I couldn’t get those things to knead into the dough. Add them right away and get them worked into the dough. You will still get currants popping out as you knead, but at least you’ll get most of them in there to start.
- Use a glass bowl when proofing your dough. Metal holds hot and cold temperatures making rising difficult and stressful on the dough.
- A warm kitchen is all you need for the proofing stage of your dough. If the room is cold or there are drafts, set your oven to the lowest setting (probably around 100˚F) and place your covered bowl inside with the oven door ajar.
- On the second rise, when you’ve rolled your dough into rolls, make sure you place them close together but not too close! If they are too close together the buns will have a hard time baking all the way through.
- In order to get the pretty cross on top of the buns, make sure your paste is a little on the thicker side. I made mine a little runny thinking it would be easier to pipe, instead it ran and spread all over the buns, making not so pretty crosses.
Happy Baking! I hope your first attempt at these buns is a success. If you have any tips you’d like to add or tell me about your Hot Cross Bun experience, write me in the comment section below!
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup warm water
- 1 pkg active dry yeast
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¾ cup milk, warmed
- ¼ cup Stirling Churn 84 unsalted butter, melted
- The peel of 1 large orange and 1 large lemon
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- ¼ cup dried currants
- 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 Tablespoons water
- 3 Tablespoons warm water
- 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- In a small bowl, add warm water, yeast and 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Let sit until the yeast starts to bubble and foam, about 10 minutes
- Meanwhile in a large glass bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, ground cloves and the rest of the sugar. Mix to combine
- In a saucepan on low heat melt butter with the milk, add your orange and lemon peel to infuse flavours
- In another small bowl whisk egg and egg yolk
- Create a well in your flour mixture, add your warm milk mixture, eggs, and yeast mixture, give a stir to mix
- With a wooden spoon gently bring the flour into the centre and mix until dough starts to form (it should look ragged)
- Turn out your dough onto a work surface, add your currants and knead for about 10 minutes until elastic and smooth
- Lightly grease a glass bowl with oil, place the dough into the centre, turning the dough over to grease the dough as well. Cover with plastic and let rest for about an hour until doubled in size.
- Once your dough is double in size, punch down dough and transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Cut dough into 9 even pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, stretching and pinching dough underneath to make tops smooth and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place each roll about 1-2 inches apart
- Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 35 minutes.
- Meanwhile preheat your oven to 375˚F and make your paste for the crosses. Mix water and flour together. Using a piping bag with a small tip, pipe crosses over each roll.
- Bake in center of oven for about 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
- Meanwhile make your glaze. Add sugar and water into a small sauce pan, over medium heat, dissolve sugar in water. Remove from heat and brush on top of hot cross buns once baked.