For many years, I have made a large batch of hot cross buns every Good Friday. We eat them warm, straight from the oven and dripping with melted butter for afternoon tea on Good Friday, as a snack on Easter Saturday, then split and toasted on Easter Sunday.
Spicy, fragrant and with a moreish, sticky glaze, homemade hot cross buns are infinitely superior to any you can buy in a shop. They do take some time to make, but I like that. The slow and gentle kneading and rising seem to fit the meditative stillness and sadness of Good Friday.
This year, distracted by the imminent arrival of my brother and his family from Sydney, I completely botched my first batch of hot cross buns. I miscalculated how many teaspoons of dry yeast was equivalent to two 7-gram sachets and ended up with heavy, rubbery little balls. I did some research, rectified the problem and my second batch was perfect. So if you make hot cross buns at home, ensure that your yeast is fresh and be careful to use the right amount!
- 4 cups plain flour
- 2 x 7 gram sachets (4 teaspoons) dried yeast
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1½ teaspoons mixed spice
- 1 t cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 1½ cups mixed dried fruit (a commercial blend or any combination of candied citron, raisins, currants, glace cherries and sultanas)
- 300ml milk
- 40 grams butter
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- ½ cup plain flour
- 4 to 5 tablespoons water
- 80ml (1/3 cup) water
- 1 teaspoon powdered gelatin
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Combine flour, yeast, sugar, spices, salt and dried fruit in a large bowl.
- Melt butter in a small saucepan then pour in milk and heat until mixture is lukewarm. Add milk and eggs to dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon, finishing with your hands to make a soft dough.
- Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic. Add a little extra flour if the dough is too sticky.
- Place dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and set aside in a warm place for 1 to 1½ hours, or until dough doubles in size.
- Grease a large baking tray. Punch dough down to its original size and knead briefly on a lightly floured surface until smooth.
- Divide into twelve even portions and form each portion into a ball. Place balls onto lined tray, about 1cm apart.
- Cover with a damp tea towel and set aside in a warm place for around 30 minutes, or until buns double in size.
- Preheat oven to 180°C fan-forced.
- To make flour paste, beat flour and water in a small bowl until smooth, adding a little extra water if paste is too thick. Using a piping bag or zip-loc bag with one corner snipped off, pipe flour paste over tops of buns to form crosses.
- Bake buns for 20 minutes, or until they are golden brown.
- To make glaze, place water, gelatin and sugar into a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until sugar and gelatin have dissolved. Brush warm glaze over hot buns.