Linda, in our story, loves baking hot cross buns for her grandchildren, even though they can never agree on a filling they all like. They’re coming over on Easter Sunday, so this year she’s baking a different flavour for each of them. So that they'll know whose is whose, she'll pipe each child's initials on the buns!
- Mix the bread flour, spice, sugar, milk powder and yeast in a bowl with a pinch salt. Make a well in the centre. Lightly beat together the butter, egg and 250ml (8 1/2fl oz) lukewarm water, then pour in to the flour mix. Knead the flour into the liquid slowly, until a soft dough forms.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Return to the bowl, cover with a damp cloth and leave to rise for 1-1 1/2 hours, until doubled in size.
- Once risen, knock back the dough by punching lightly. Cut it into 4. To personalise, knead a filling into each quarter. Cut each piece into 3 (for 12 buns) or 4 (for 16), then shape each into a ball. Transfer to a greased baking sheet, cover with a damp cloth and leave for 30-45 minutes, until doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to gas 7, 220°C, fan 200°C. For the topping, mix the plain flour, 1/2 tbsp sugar and 2-3 tbsp water into a smooth, thick paste. Spoon into a piping bag with a small plain nozzle.
- Mark a cross on each bun with the back of a knife, then pipe paste on top. Pipe the initial of who the bun is for, if you like.
- Reduce the oven to gas 6, 200°C, fan 180°C. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until golden. Cool. Glaze with warm honey, if using.
If your dough is a bit stiff, try adding a little more water at step 1 to loosen it up.
Mixed spice is also good with poached apples or pears, added to the egg mix for French toast, or used in fruit chutneys.