The start of spring was my mum’s favourite time of year. The combination of Mother’s Day, shortly followed by Easter and Mum’s birthday on April 1st meant that around this time we always had some seriously good food in the house. Having said all this, I almost totally failed on the food front this year. I scarpered from the horrendously busy supermarket on several occasions without buying any chocolate or hot cross buns. I was too early for yesterday’s Easter pop-up market and Friday’s Big Sussex Market didn’t seem to have any Easter gifts on offer. Who knew that it would be so bloody difficult to get your hands on a bag of mini-eggs in March?
Thankfully, I had the foresight to buy a bag of dried mixed fruit and some flour, so this morning I set to work making some real hot cross buns. Turns out hot cross buns are linked to paganism as well as Christianity, as Miss Foodwise discusses on her impeccably presented blog. At this time of year pagan Saxons also drew crosses on fruited buns to represent the four quarters of the moon, the seasons and the wheel of life.
Hot cross buns
Makes 12, adapted from Stacie Stewart’s recipe in Stacie Bakes
600g strong white bread flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
Good grating nutmeg
40g unsalted butter
85g unrefined caster sugar
150g dried mixed fruit
1 1/2tsp fast acting yeast
1 medium egg
260ml whole milk
1 tbsp flour
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 tbsp quince jelly
Put the flour, salt, spices in a large bowl and rub the butter in gently until all is incorporated.
Add the dried fruit, yeast and sugar to the bowl.
Whisk the egg and add to the bowl, then warm the milk in a pan until just starting to steam. Add the warm milk to the dry ingredients and then bring the whole lot together to form a dough.
Knead for between 5-8 minutes until the dough is smooth and round. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for 1.5 hours or until the dough has doubled in size, keep an eye on it.
Turn out the dough and knock it back a few times with your fist before returning it to the bowl, re-dampening the cloth and leaving it covered to rise in a warm place for another 30 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 200c. Slice the dough into 12, like a clock, then tear each segment off and form into a ball. Place the buns on a lined baking sheet.
Cover the buns with cling film and leave in a warm place for a further 30 minutes.
To make the topping, mix 1 tbsp flour and a little milk to form a smooth paste then pour into a piping bag. (If you don’t have a piping bag you can do as I did and spoon the mixture into one corner of a clean plastic carrier bag and snip off the very tip of the corner just before using.)
Pipe crosses on each of the buns then put in the middle of the preheated oven for 15 minutes until they are golden brown.
Gently warm the golden syrup and quince jelly and brush onto the buns while they are fresh out of the oven.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool, or serve warm. Best eaten within 24 hours.
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About Chloe King
I'm a freelance writer, designer and webby type. I live with my husband and daughter in the south of England. I like to cook and can throw a good party.
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