Sometimes you do things in the kitchen that you realise afterwards were utterly stupid, like adding whisky to a hot pan and creating a brief but terrifying column of fire (sorry about your kitchen Leonard).

For a long time, every yeasted bun and loaf I made came out of the oven dry. Practically pre-toasted. I couldn’t understand it. I was following the recipes to the letter and yet I was bread that could dehydrate a human in half a slice.

It was a Gary Rhodes recipe for hot cross that enlightened me. In an introductory paragraph he explained the importance of not dusting your work surface with too much flour when you’re kneading the dough. You’ll knead this extra flour into the dough and the will end up dry and crunchy.

Well, obviously. I’d been dusting my kitchen counter with more and more flour, trying to get my dough smooth and shiny, like what you see on the TV, totally forgetting the effect all this flour would have on the finished product. Since that revelatory moment, I’ve embraced sticky dough. I knead it on very lightly dusted surfaces and if it sticks to the counter, I just scrape it off. It rises the same and the final result doesn’t need soaking to be edible.

This hot cross bun recipe is an evolved version of that Gary Rhodes original. The buns are best eaten warm from the oven. If you want to toast them, don’t glaze them. The sugar glaze will melt and slide off under the heat of the grill and make a mess / set your toaster on fire.

Hot cross buns
Makes 12

450g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
7g sachet fast action, easy blend yeast
1 tsp ground mixed spice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
50g caster sugar
75g raisins
Grated zest of 1 orange
75g unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
1 egg, beaten
125ml whole milk
40g plain flour
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp caster sugar

1 Sift the flour into a large bowl and stir in the yeast, mixed spice, ginger, sugar, raisins, orange zest and a pinch of salt. Add 60g melted butter and the egg.

2 Top the milk up with 100ml water and heat in a pan on the hob or in the microwave until hand hot. Slowly add to the flour, stirring the dough together with one hand, until you have a sticky dough.

3 Wash your hands and then dust your work surface with about 30g plain flour. Scrape out the dough and knead for 5–10 minutes until it has taken up all the flour and the dough is fairly smooth. If it’s still very, very sticky, you can add another 20g but no more than that. If it doesn’t become smooth, don’t worry. Sticky is better than very dry.

4 Grease a large bowl with the remaining melted butter and place the dough, patted into a round, in it. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave somewhere warm for about an hour or until doubled in size.

5 Tip the dough out, punch down and knead for 1–2 minutes until smooth. Divide the mixture into 12 and shape into rounds. Grease 2 large baking trays with butter and place the buns on them. Cover with tea towels and leave somewhere warm for 1 hour or until doubled in size. Preheat the oven to gas mark 7/220°C/fan oven 200°C.

5 Make the cross mixture by mixing the flour and sugar with 3–4 tbsp water until smooth. Slice a cross into the top of each bun with a knife and spoon some paste into the marks with a teaspoon. Bake for 15–20 minutes until golden and the buns sound hollow when the bases are tapped. Transfer the buns to a wire rack.

6 Place the sugar in a small pan with 1 tbsp water and gently heat until melted. Brush over the buns to glaze. Serve warm with butter.

Tagged with: Afternoon teaBakingBunsEasterHot Cross Buns

15 Responses to Hot cross buns

  1. Jones says:

    I like how your crosses look properly part of the bun, all the ones I’ve ever bought seem to have crosses that just pop off as soon as you bite them and I end up eating them separately. Glad I’m not the only one to have made a mess of my toaster trying to toast glazed ones.

  2. […] Hot cross buns « Gin and Crumpets […]

  3. Batch says:

    you my, dear lady, are a good cook. i can’t wait to read your posts after you have completed your jaunt to *not* london. yum.

    • ginandcrumpets says:

      Thanks Batch, obviously when I come back it will be nothing but high end French cooking (maybe not).

  4. Putting my oar in says:

    Delicious! And if you glaze them with a little warmed apricot jam instead of the caster sugar you can have shiny buns and toast them with impunity; the pectin seems to help it stick better and so long as you don’t go overboard they’ll not taste overtly apricoty. 🙂

    • ginandcrumpets says:

      Ah, apricot jam – the baker’s friend. Thanks for the tip. I’ll try it out and my batch of not entirely traditional Easter Saturday buns.

  5. Lovely buns. I’m not at all experienced making bread so this is sound advice.

    I had a terrifying column of fire recently myself when I did crepe suzette and nearly set fire to my own hair. A moment only eclipsed by casually sticking the power cable to the ZX Spectrum 48k into my mouth aged 12. Never did that again either.

  6. Di says:

    I made these, and they weren’t a disaster, and I am complete crap at baking so must be a good recipe! I think the sticky advice may be the difference to my usual attempts, which are closer to bricks than bread.

    Think you forgot to list when to put the raisins in though … I ended up putting them in after the first rise (didn’t notice anything strange until then – that’s how good at baking I am!!!) and that seemed to work fine!!

    Very delicious. Still have some left for elevensies today (40 mins to go!)

    • ginandcrumpets says:

      Oops, I clearly need a sub. Edited the recipe to add them in – if I do it again in future then remember that the ingredients are always listed in the order they are added. Glad it worked!

    • Di says:

      Aha – cunning. I will bear that in mind! Seemed to work OK with the raisins going in later anyway. A veritable triumph by my standards!

  7. Helen says:

    Yes. This is exactly why I need a dough scraper. I had the same revelation with my burger buns. The dough is so outrageously sticky that the only way to knead it is to scrape it up and slap it down on the counter. I am currently using a palette knife – it is doing my head in.

    • ginandcrumpets says:

      I was told by a baking teacher that the best scraper he had was an Ikea wallpaper scraper. Cheap, but it would involve going to Ikea to get it. I have never worked up enough courage.

  8. […] Friday clearly requires hot cross buns, warm from the oven and dripping with butter. For a classic hot cross bun recipe, stuffed with raisins, mixed spice and ginger, click here. If you are a slave to novelty, then […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *