How to make Easter hot cross buns

Video guide to Easter hot cross buns

Hi, I'm going to show you how to make a real Easter favourite; hot cross buns. They're very simple and great fun to bake during the holidays.

Ingredients for hot cross buns

So what you're going to need is a tablespoon of dried yeast, 40g of caster sugar, 50g of melted butter, one beaten egg, 75ml of warm milk, a teaspoon of mixed spice, half a teaspoon of salt, 500g of strong bread flour, 75g of currants and finally 50g of mixed peel.

Activate the yeast

So the first thing we need to do is mixed our dried yeast into some warm water, it's 150ml and add one teaspoon of the caster sugar. We need to give that a stir. Yeast is a living thing and you have to wake it up a bit with some sugar and some warm water to activate it. We're going to mix that in and then you just have to set it aside for about 10 minutes, after which time, it should look like this, with a lovely foamy head on top of it. So that shows me that the yeast has woken up and is now ready to use.

Mix together the ingredients

So we need to mix up the rest of our ingredients. So into our 75ml of warm milk, we're going to add the melted butter and the beaten egg. We just give that a little mix together.

And then to the strong flour. Now strong flour is just bread flour that's got more gluten in it, which is the protein. So we take our mixed spice, pop that in and our salt. Just going to give that a nice mix together. And the rest of the caster sugar, so that's all our dry ingredients in.

Make a little well in the middle and pour in the wet ingredients, firstly the egg and milk and the butter. And then our lovely bubbly yeast here, into the middle. So now we want to start and mix it all together, getting all the flour mixed in to a nice rough dough. And then once it's at that point, now it's all mixed in, just get rid of that, I'm just going to turn it on to the work top.

Knead the dough

Now we want to start kneading it. All that means pulling and pushing it together, to turn it into a nice smooth dough. It's quite rough at the moment and coarse, and what we want it to look like is really smooth and stretchy. If it starts to stick a little, like this, just add a tiny shake of flour, but don't add too much because we don't want to dry it out. We just want to push it and pull it, using the flats of our hands. You might need to roll your sleeves up a few times and get stuck in.

So we're using bread flour here, that's got more gluten in it and what the kneading is doing is lining up all those gluten molecules and that's what makes it all stretchy. You'll need to do this for about five minutes but it's great exercise, so put your back into it.

Leave the dough to rise

Right, that's about ready, looks lovely and smooth and soft now, what a difference from the beginning. So we need to pop it back into our bowl and then just cover it with a clean tea towel and leave it to rise. We want it to double in size, that'll take an hour or two, depending on the temperature of your room. Put it somewhere a bit warmer and it'll be a bit quicker.

Right, that's been resting for two hours now so let's have a look. Wow, the yeast has worked its magic, it's really puffed up and it's at least twice the size it was. So what we need to do now is put the fruit in. So I'm going to start with a little shake of flour, just to stop it sticking, and I'm going to ease the dough gently out of the bowl onto the board.

And then just using the flats of my hands, press it down and scatter over our currants and peel. Then we just need to knead these in, like this. You just want to fold it over and press them in. And they will fall out a bit but it doesn't matter, just tuck them in the best you can.

Cut the dough into buns

Right, so the fruit's all mixed in now and we're ready to shape our buns. So nice sharp knife, cut it in half and then cut that half in half. And then this piece you want to cut into three. Right, so you just take your bun and roll it gently into a nice round shape. Pop it on your tray, that's your first hot cross bun made. Now to carry on, this mixture will make about 12 buns. It's quite important, if there are currants on the surface, just to press them under slightly because they can burn in the oven.

Working with dough's really therapeutic, I love it. It's a great thing to get the kids involved with, they love it, getting their hands messy.

Right and the last one. So what we need to do now is take some cling film and wrap them really tightly so the air doesn't get in. Right, we're going to leave those for 45 minutes to rise again.

Cook in the oven

So there they are, all risen and lovely, don’t they look great? So they're nearly ready to go in the oven now, which I've pre-heated to 200 degrees. If you haven't got a fan oven, it's 220 degrees. So the last thing we need to do before they go in the oven is to make the classic crosses that go on the top.

That's really simple to do, it's four tablespoons of plain flour into four tablespoons of cold water. So we just need to mix that to a paste, get it as smooth as you can. It doesn't add anything in the taste department but they just wouldn't be the same without the crosses.

So now we're going to spoon it into just an ordinary sandwich bag, like that. We just want to feed it down into one corner and what we're doing is making an instant piping bag. Pop that to one side. We just need to snip off the very corner of this bag, like that. And then we just want to go across in a straight line. I find it easier to do them all in one direction to start with. Just like this. They don't have to look perfect, they are home made after all. Turn the tray round 90 degrees then go back the other way.

The last row, just about got enough there. There we go. And there they are, all ready to go in the oven. I'm going to bake them for 10 minutes, until they're and golden and brown.

Glaze with sugar and hot water mix

So there they are, looking golden and lovely. So the last thing we need to do is I've made a little bit of a glaze with some caster sugar, two tablespoons, two tablespoons of hot water, mixed it together until the sugar dissolves and I'm just going to brush those over the hot buns and it'll make them gorgeous and shiny. So all over.

So there you go, all done. They smell fantastic. Just need to transfer them to a cooling rack now to cool down for about 10 minutes and they're ready to eat. Easter hot cross buns, what could be better?


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