With Easter just around the corner (coupled with a whole lot of extra time at home), my inner-baker has been ignited and that means one thing – home made hot cross buns.
I always have been, and always will be, a devout lover of fruity, spiced hot cross buns.
I’m one of those people who buys them as soon as Coles and Woolies start stocking them on shelves on Boxing Day. I’d say I’m sorry but I’m not.
While they’re pretty much the only thing you can count on being able to buy in the current climate, I really, really wanted to have a go at making my own.
*queue my ill-fated yeast-finding expedition*
Me and apparently every other person in Melbourne.
I knew flour would be a hard find, but I didn’t expect yeast to be sold out at every local supermarket I strategically planned my iso-groceries at. It took a good fortnight before I was able to track some down, and not where you might have expected.
In the end, I asked my local bakery if they were selling any yeast, and to my surprise, they said yes – fresh and for $2 a kilo.
Being well-versed in yeast of the dried variety only – and at 7g a packet at that! – I found myself wondering, what on earth am I going to do with a kilo of yeast?!
And the answer to that question, my friends, is this: I honestly do not know – stay tuned. Maybe lots, maybe some, maybe nothing at all. Only time will tell.
Anyway, back to the buns.
Having never made hot cross buns before, I turned to my trusty friend, The Internet, and found this recipe by RecipeTin Eats.
Despite having a recipe blog, I am hopelessly woeful at following recipes, so have adapted hers as I made it below. Definitely suggest checking out the RecipeTin Eats page as there’s lots of exciting things happening over there!
I’ve got to say, these HCBs (can I call them that? Is that even allowed?) turned out pretty freaking fantastic and were an extremely fun ISO-activity. They’re a little time consuming – let’s face it, we all have plenty of that right now – but very easy to make. If you can get your hands on yeast, I 11/10 recommend it.
27g fresh yeast, crumbled (or 1tbs dried yeast – more info on converting yeast quantities in cooking here)
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 cup raw sugar
5 cups self-raising flour + extra for dusting
6 tsp mixed spice (or cinnamon)
1 tsp cardamon (optional – don’t buy it if you don’t have it)
Grated zest of 2 oranges
3 tbs melted and cooled butter
100g small/chopped dried fruits – I used a mix of sultanas and apples
1/2 cup flour (I used self-raising and it was a-okay)
3 tbs water
2 tbs honey
2 tbs warm water
Combine yeast, 2 tbs of the sugar and the warm water in a large bowl, and leave in a warm place until frothy. Mine took about 20 minutes, but it was a chilly day.
Once frothy, add the flour, orange zest, remaining sugar, spices, fruit, butter and egg. Mix until combined before turning onto a floured surface. Knead until elastic – around 10 minutes.
Place in a bowl, cover with a damp towel and leave over a warm bath of water for around 1.5 – 2 hours until the dough doubles in size. The time it takes will depend on the temperature outside.
Once risen, punch the dough down. Think of this as COVID stress relief.
Turn onto a floured surface, roll into a log and cut into 12 even pieces. Knead each piece briefly and then form a smooth ball by tucking the dough in on itself. Place in a lined baking tray in rows, smooth-side up.
For the second proving, leave the the tray in a warm place for 30 minutes – one hour. They’ll be ready when they look plump.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
In a small bowl, combine the remaining flour and water into a paste consistency, transfer into a ziplock bag and snip the corner (or use a piping bag). Pipe over the buns in centred rows – running the entire length of the buns and then the width to make the crosses.
Transfer into the oven. Bake at 180°C for 10 minutes, reduce to 150°C for another 10 minutes until golden. Switch the oven off, but leave the buns inside for 10 more minutes. Allow to cool outside the oven for 10 minutes.
Combine honey with water until dissolved, then brush over the buns generously.
Enjoy warm or toasted with lots of butter – how very Saturated Nat of me.