Warm and sticky hot cross buns fresh out of the oven. Make your own hot cross buns this Easter with this easy recipe. It takes just 10 minutes to mix together the dough and theres no need for a dough hook or bread machine! Soft and fluffy and filled with juicy sultanas and sweet spices, they are perfect for snacking on after a long walk on Easter Sunday.
Place the milk and butter in a small pan and heat gently until the butter has melted. Set to one side to cool.
Next, in large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, yeast, salt and mixed spice (dry ingredients).
Make a well in the centre of the mixed dry ingredients. Whisk the 2 eggs and pour into the well along with a quarter of the heated milk mixture. Stir well.
Gradually add the rest of the milk mixture stirring between each addition to bring together into a dough.
Turn out onto a clean floured work surface. Knead for 5 minutes until it starts to feel smooth and less sticky.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover. Leave the bowl to stand in a warm place (e.g. - on top of a pre heated oven) for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Knock back the risen dough and turn out on a floured work surface. Flatten out roughly with your fingertips.
Grab the dough on either side with both hands and stretch out into a long strip. Add the sultanas to the centre of the strip of dough.
Roll up into a sausage shape from one side to the other. This should allow for the fruit to be fully combined.
Next, halve and then quarter the dough. Then halve each quarter, creating 8 pieces that will be similar in size. Shape each piece into a round ball. Then place on a lined baking tray. Space out well to leave room for rising in the oven. Cover lightly with cling film and leave in a warm place to rise for 30 minutes. At this point you can preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F).
Whilst waiting for the second rise, make the paste for the crosses by mixing together 100g plain flour with 8 tablespoon whole milk. Transfer to a piping bag ready to pipe the crosses onto the buns.
After 30 minutes remove the cling film from the dough balls. Whisk 1 egg with 1 tablespoon of whole milk and use a pastry brush to glaze the dough balls all over.
Pipe crosses over the glazed dough balls then place in the centre of a pre heated oven and bake at 160°C (320°F) for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove the baked hot cross buns from the oven. Heat up some apricot jam and paint over the buns whilst still hot.
Fast action or instant yeast: One sachet of this will ensure a good rise. Make sure you use a yeast that states it can be added straight to the recipe or flour. I find fast action yeast super easy to work with as it doesn't need to be activated first and it always works well when making any kind of bread.Fresh yeast could also be used here but double the amount would be needed. Fresh yeast will need to be activated in the milk first rather than adding to the flour mixture. If you choose this option you will need to melt the butter and milk in a pan then allow to cool to a luke warm temperature. Then dissolve the fresh yeast in the warm milk and allow to sit for a couple of minutes before mixing into the flour. Read more about different types of yeast and how to use them here.Sultanas: Any dried fruit will work well in this recipe. Try with currants, raisins, dried cranberries, dried apricot pieces, orange peel or chocolate chips.Mixed spice: This is a mixture of several sweet spices, including cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. If you can't get hold of any mixed spice then you can use a mix of the above single spices.Caster sugar: The caster sugar (or bakers sugar) is added to the dough to make the bread sweet. Although other types of sugar could be used here, I find caster sugar to be the best as it dissolves quickly and produces a nice even flavour throughout the bread. Either white or brown caster sugar can be used.How should hot cross buns be stored? Once made, allow to fully cool then wrap in cling film and stored in an air tight container. The buns will keep well and stay soft for 2-3 days, after this you may find that they start to harden and go stale.Can this recipe be made in advance? Make the recipe as per the instructions up to when the dough is rolled into 8 balls. At this point cover with cling film and place in the fridge. The dough balls can now stay in the fridge overnight as the low temperature will mean a slow rise. In the morning remove from the fridge and leave on the side for an hour to warm up. Arrange on a tray, well spaced, then glaze with egg wash and pipe on the crosses before baking in the oven as per the recipe.Can this recipe be reheated? As these are HOT cross buns, it is nice to actually eat them whilst still warm. Once cooled you can reheat by wrapping the buns in foil, then place in a hot oven and warm gently for 5 minutes.Can you freeze hot cross buns? Once baked and fully cooled, place the buns in an airtight container or sealable freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, remove from the freezer and either heat each bun for 1-2 minutes in the microwave or leave on the side to fully defrost then wrap in foil and pop in a hot oven to warm for 5 minutes.Expert tips:
Time yourself when kneading and make sure you knead for the full 5 minutes.
Only allow the dough to rise until it has about doubled in size. In a warm kitchen this should take around an hour. If you leave it for longer the gas bubbles can become too big and the dough will then fail to rise when baked. If your kitchen is quite cool the dough could take up to 2 hours to double in size. You can speed this up by standing on top of a pre heated oven. Alternatively place the dough in the fridge if you would prefer to leave it to prove over a few hours instead (e.g. overnight).
When making the paste for the crosses, add the milk a bit at a time in order to reach your desired consistency. A thicker paste will give a thiner and more defined cross. A thinner paste will create a wider and flatter cross.