There's just one week until Easter and one final week to raise the debate; how do you like yours? Fresh or toasted? Plain? Traditional fruit? Mocha? Choc chip? Oh I've seen so many variations on this traditional sweet bread and honestly, I don't think I've met a bun I didn't like!
I'm not going to lie, I love a good bun! I could literally eat them every day, probably a few a day if I'm really honest. So, with just one week until this delicious, um traditional, holiday and because my bun habit is becoming a bit expensive, I decided to develop what I consider the softest, most delicious hot cross bun around! Try it for your self this weekend!
This recipe makes 12 generous sized buns filled with dark, milk and white chocolate chips, delicious toasted and smothered with fresh butter!
Hot cross bun recipe
500g strong bread flour
100g castor sugar
10g instant dried yeast
1 tsp cinnamon
60g butter, very soft but not melted
2 medium eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
180g chocolate chips of your choice (I used a combination of milk, white and dark)
60g plain flour
3 table spoons water
60g castor sugar
60g boiling water
Making these delicious buns is super easy, no real technical ability is required and the only real time consuming aspect is leaving them long enough to prove fully before shaping and baking.
I strongly recommend purchasing bread flour for dough recipes, the higher protein content really makes in a difference in the spring of the dough. Since changing to bread flour I've noticed my yeast risen goods are lighter and fluffier with a real moreish quality, I definitely recommend you try it!
Begin by weighing your dry ingredients and mixing the flour, sugar, cinnamon and yeast together in a bowl. The salt is the last addition in all of my dough recipes as it can kill the yeast if it comes into direct contact.
In another bowl heat full cream milk to about 30 degrees or so, just so it's slightly warm to the touch. Warm milk will help to activate the yeast and begin the fermentation process. Add the eggs and some vanilla and whisk lightly to bring everything together. Add this milk and egg mix along with the very soft butter directly into the flour mixture and mix briefly to bring it all together in a clumpy mass. I normally use a wooden spoon at this point as the mix is quite sticky. Once everything is just combined I add the salt and give everything a good mixing with my hands now.
I absolutely love mixing doughs and kneading with my hands, it really feels so natural to feel the dough change in texture and consistency as the gluten develops. I love the no-knead solution I talked about in my doughnut recipe, so if I am making yeast dough I try to follow that technique when I have the time. Of course you can mix everything together in the bowl of an electric mixer with the dough hook attached, simply knead the dough on medium speed for about 10-15 minutes then set aside in a lightly oiled bowl some where warm, covered loosely in cling film aside for the first prove. This normally takes an hour or until your dough has doubled in size.
Once your dough has risen and doubled it's size it's time to knock it back, which is literally a good punch that deflates all the little air bubbles that were created over the last hour and add in your chocolate chips. To begin with it may seem as though the dough won't accept the chocolate and it'll keep spitting chips out of itself. Just keep working that dough and the chocolate will find it's place within a few minutes.
A great way of kneading dough on any surface I've found is to lightly oil your work bench and knead the dough directly on the oiled surface. A quick way of producing tough buns is by adding too much flour, normally done when the bench is dusted in flour for kneading. By oiling the work bench instead there is no need for any additonal flour and you won't risk spoiling the flour / water ratio in your dough.
Your dough should be really nice and springy now and very soft to the touch. Weigh all of the dough and divide it into 12 equal portions. Lightly oil your bench again and roll these portions into tight little buns and place into a tray lined with baking paper for the second rise. Leave your buns to rise by about one third this time, or for approximately 35 - 40 minutes.
When it's coming close to the end of the final rise preheat your oven to 180C and make the paste for your crosses by combining the flour and water and mixing into a thick paste. If you have a piping bag you can fill the bag, snip off about 8mm from the tip and use that to pip crosses over your buns. If you don't have a bag you can always use a soft, clean paint brush to brush the tops of your buns with crosses. Once your oven has preheated bake your buns for about 25 minutes, turning your tray half way though to promote even baking.
Your buns are ready when they sound hollow when tapped. Once your buns are baked remove from oven and brush generously with the glaze. I popped my buns back in the oven after applying the glaze which created a very soft sugar crust, but this is not necessary, simply brush the hot buns with your sugar glaze and set aside to cool.
Or if you're impatient like me, burn your fingers while splitting a piping hot bun from the tin and applying to face. Enjoy!