Hot cross buns with attitude

Hot cross buns, Easter, baking, cooking, food, foodie, easterfood, Easter baking, yeast, dough, homecook, Philip, Philipfriend, philipfriend, cookery, Surrey, hotcrossbuns, fruit, glaze, marmalade, knead, prove, fermentation

These are light, full-flavoured sticky buns that have had slow rises to give a far greater depth of flavour. Small pieces of dried cranberries, juicy raisins, ginger and vibrant bursts of citrus run through the sweet, spiced dough.

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Post updated April 2019: new photos

These buns are excellent split in half, toasted and buttered (and these call for salted butter!).

I have turned up the flavour somewhat with the citrus and with the ginger, but they are not shockingly “in your face”. The punch of ginger and the orange is, I think, terrific and give hot cross buns that are craving attention!

About the recipe

This is an adaptation of a handed-down recipe for standard fruit teacakes that I have been using for many decades that I make at several times during the year (without the crosses).

As I am often inclined to do, I like to tweak it a little more from time to time: different fruit, sometimes more gingery with chunks of dark chocolate,  and often soaking the fruit in hot tea…..

But whatever tweaks you want to go for, up to about 150g added goodies to the main dough is about right.

Making mixed peel

I like to make my version of mixed peel by using fresh orange and lemon rind, chopped up and then gently simmered in a syrup of sugar and water for about 20 minutes. However, a good quality commercial peel works well.

A dough with depth of flavour

There really shouldn’t be any urgency with bread: a bread dough needs to be allowed to rise at a sedate pace if its flavour is to develop. And it will wait quite happily for us to step in for the shaping, proving and baking at our convenience.

With breads, slow rises are the best way to get flavour into the dough itself. Once kneaded, I often place the dough in the fridge for several hours or even overnight.

Recipe: hot cross buns with attitude – makes 10

For the buns:

  • 450g strong plain white flour
  • 8g fine sea salt
  • 50g soft brown sugar
  • 7g easy-blend/instant dried yeast
  • 40g dried cranberries or dried cherries, chopped*
  • 40g raisins*
  • finely grated zest of one large orange (I use the juice in the crosses)
  • 5 pieces of stem ginger, drained and chopped small
  • 30g good quality mixed peel, finely chopped
  • 112 teaspoons gound mixed spice
  • 12 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • about 250ml cold full-fat milk
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 80g unsalted butter, melted

*I often mix the fruit with strong, freshly brewed Earl Grey tea and leave to steep overnight, for added flavour. Not essential, but I love it!

For the crosses:

  • 60g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • the juice of one orange
  • a little water, if needed

For the glaze:

  • 2 tablespoons sieved marmalade with a splash of whisky (or use lemon curd)

(1) Mix the flour, salt, sugar, orange zest, yeast and the spices together in a large bowl. Add the whole egg, the butter and enough of the warm milk to form a soft but not unmanageable dough.

(2) Knead well about 10-15 minutes until it becomes elastic and smooth. Cover with clingfilm and leave to rise until almost doubled in size: you can pop the dough immediately in a warm place but for the best flavour put it in the fridge overnight to slow down the rise.

(3) Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and work in the rest of the ingredients (fruit, ginger etc…) knead until it is smooth: the heat of your hands will warm up the dough if it had been chilled. Divide into 10 equal pieces and shape into smooth balls of dough.

(4) Place the balls on a baking tray lined with non-stick greaseproof paper, spacing them a little apart so that when they rise, they will be touching. Cover with clingfilm and leave at room temperature (or in a warmer place) until well risen.

(5) Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan).  Meanwhile, make the crosses for the buns: mix the flour, ginger and orange juice to a thick paste, adding a little water if needed. Pipe a thin cross over the top of each bun and bake for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown. If the buns are getting too dark, place a sheet of greaseproof over them.

(6) While the buns are baking make the glaze: heat the marmalade in a small pan or a pot in the microwave and stir in the whisky (if using). Brush the top of each of the hot buns with the glaze as soon as the buns come out of the oven and leave to cool completely.

Author: Philip

Finalist on Britain’s Best Home Cook (BBC Television 2018). Published recipe writer with a love of growing fruit & veg, cooking, teaching and eating good food.

6 thoughts on “Hot cross buns with attitude”

  1. Woh! These look so yummy and so very lovely. a must for easter. Thanking you Philip. Happy Easter to one and all.



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