I always spend Easter week-end with my family, and we always have hot cross buns and tea in the afternoons. Usually, we buy the buns from Pâtisserie de Gascogne, but this year, I made them from scratch (using a recipe that I tweaked from Donna Hay). As they baked, the scent of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves filled the house, setting our minds to a happy, relaxed holiday-mode. The combination of candied citrus peel and raisins, alongside the mixture of spices, are just right for a hot cross bun. I truly believe that these are better than any bun that you buy in a store, and the aromas that fill the air are well worth the effort. Trust me.
I made the dough with a Kitchenaid mixer, as opposed to kneading them by hand. I guess I'm a little lazy, but I've had a lot of success kneading doughs with a mixer, so I don't do that by hand any more. I tweaked the spice mixture, and used less flour then was called for in the original recipe (proof that I am getting better at making bread dough, I think!) but the amount of flour probably is dependent on the temperature, humidity, and the wheat used for the flour. I baked the buns to a deep mahogany, as recommended by the original recipe, and in the style of such bakeries as Tartine in San Francisco would do. If you prefer a lighter bun, you can bake them at a slightly lower temperature, or for less time.
Hot cross buns
Yields 12 buns
- 2 tbsp instant dried yeast
- 55 grams granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cup warm milk (~95°F)
- 535 grams all-purpose flour (you may need more)
- 2 3/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- scant 1/4 tsp cloves
- 50 grams melted butter
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 55 grams sugar
- 240 grams sultana raisins
- 55 grams candied citrus peel (mix of orange and lemon)
- 75 grams all-purpose flour
- 80 mL water
- 2 tsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp powdered gelatine
- 60 mL water
- In a 2 cup measurer (or a small bowl), stir together the first three ingredients (yeast, sugar, and milk). Set aside to "bubble and grow" as you measure out the other ingredients.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, add the flour, spices, butter, egg, sugar, raisins, and candied peel. Mix on low for a minute, then add in the yeast mixture and mix on medium for 8 to 10 minutes (this is essential to get a good bun texture). The dough should not stick to the sides, but should feel slightly tacky when you press it with your fingers. If it's too dry, sprinkle some water, and continue beating. If it's too wet, add a couple teaspoons of flour (a little at a time) and beat.
- Form the dough into a ball and place it in a greased, large bowl (rolling it in the bowl to grease the dough). Cover the bowl with saran wrap.
- Let rise until the dough has doubled in size, in a warm, draft-free location, like in the oven with just the light turned on.
- Prepare a 9-inch brownie pan by greasing it lightly and fitting a piece of parchment at the bottom. Grease the parchment.
- Punch the dough down slightly, form a log. Divide the log into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and place in the prepared pan.
- Cover the pan with saran wrap and let the buns rise until they have doubled (they should reach to the top of the pan).
- Preheat the oven, with a baking sheet inverted over the middle shelf, to 400°F.
- Prepare the cross dough: To form the crosses, mix the flour and the water, and pipe thinly onto the top of each bun just before baking. The dough should be thin enough to pipe, but thick enough not to spread.
- Bake the buns on the middle rack (on top of the preheated baking sheet) for 10 minutes at this temperature, then lower the temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 15 to 18 minutes, or until the buns are deep brown in color.
- Remove the buns from the oven and brush with glaze a couple times as they cool (note that as the glaze cools, it will thicken enough that when it is brushed it will leave a nice, non-sticky sheen when completely cooled). Serve the buns when they are slightly warm, with salted butter. You can reheat them in the oven the next day.