Easter Hot Cross Buns

These are Mary’s hot cross buns and they ARE gorgeous – really fruity and beautifully spiced with cinnamon and mixed spice. They look fab as well with the golden syrup glaze. I would recommend them but only if you’re having a relaxing day at home, enabling you the luxury of lots to time to revisit the kitchen several times. They’re not difficult, just take some time but very lovely and worth the time.

Makes 12 large buns or 18 medium-sized

What you need…

1 x electric mixer fitted with a dough hook!!!!

2 x baking sheets, lined with Bake O Glide/ baking paper

1 x piping bag fitted with a fine 3mm nozzle (for the crosses)

40g butter

300ml milk

500g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting

75g caster sugar

2 teaspoons mixed spice

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Grated zest of 1 lemon

10g salt

10g fast-action dried yeast

1 egg, beaten

200g sultanas

50g chopped candied peel

Olive oil for greasing

for the topping

75g plain flour

100ml water

2 tablespoons golden syrup

What to do…

In separate saucepans, gently melt the butter and also warm the milk, just to tepid.

Meanwhile, into your mixer, chuck the flour, sugar, spices, lemon zest, salt and yeast. Put the mixer onto a slow speed and blend the ingredients together.

Add the melted butter, half the warm milk and the egg and mix until all the ingredients are blended. Add a little milk at a time now and keep checking the blend – the dough needs to come together and be on the wet side, rather than dry. You might not need all the milk. I reckon I had about 50mls that was not required.

Once you’re happy with the dough, add in the sultanas and candied peel and let the mixer do its thing on a low speed for 10 minutes, at which point the dough will be silky and elastic. Turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and give it a couple of kneads, just to get it into a ball shape.

Smear olive oil all around the inside of a nice roomy bowl, pop in your dough, cover with cling film and then leave it somewhere warm for 1½ hours or until doubled in size. (I put mine underneath the kitchen radiator).

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. Return to the bowl, re-cover with cling film and leave in your chosen warm place for a further hour.

Turn the dough out again onto your floured surface and divide into 12 or 18 equal parts, depending on whether you want large or medium-sized buns. Shape each 1 into a ball and pop them onto the baking sheets, flattening them slightly.

Slip the baking sheets into a large polythene bag (I used large shopping bags) making sure that the bag doesn’t touch the buns – they’ll stick! Leave for a further hour until the buns have doubled in size.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220°c / 425°f / gas 7.

To make the crosses, mix together the water and plain flour to make a paste; then spoon into the piping bag.

When the buns have risen, remove from the bags and pipe a cross on top of each one. Pop the buns in the oven bake for 15 – 20 minutes until pale golden brown (I overdid mine a bit!)

Finally, melt the golden syrup in a pan and, whilst the buns are still warm, brush the top of each one to give them a lovely – sticky – shine. Cool on a wire rack and then dig in to your Easter hot cross buns – they are lovely and worth the return trips to the kitchen!

Inspired by…

Mary Berry

How easy…

They are not difficult at all, particularly if you have an electric mixer. But they do tie you to the house for quite a while so your schedule needs to be such that you can pop back into the kitchen to complete the 3 stages. Absolutely worth it if you have the time.

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