Hot Cross Buns

Makes 12

A recipe for super lush and soft hot cross buns. My biggest tips are:

-Allow plenty of time for proving. Because hot cross bun dough is super moist and dense, it needs a little bit of extra time for rising, especially if the weather is a little cooler. I allow at least 2 hours for the first rise and a little longer for the second rise.

-Use a syringe to create the little crosses. It makes it quick, easy and no need for a piping bag.

-Cook in a conventional oven, ie not fan-forced, at about 170 degrees Celsius and only until they are light golden brown on the outside and just cooked on the inside. Overcooked hot cross buns can end up like hard rocks otherwise.

-These are best served fresh on the day of cooking. If making in advance, allow them to cool, then freeze immediately. Defrost before serving and warm in the oven or under the grill for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Ingredients

Dough

1 1/2 cups milk

1 egg

50g butter, melted

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon orange marmalade

1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

5 cups bread flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon mixed spice

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon yeast

1 cup sultanas

1/2 cup currants

Cross

1/2 cup plain flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 cup water

Method

Dough

Place all the ingredients (except the sultanas and currants) in a bowl, in the exact order given in the list of ingredients. This way all the wet ingredients are in the bowl first, with the dry on top. You can mix together by hand or in your kitchen aid fitted with a dough hook, or bread maker on the dough setting. Mix until it comes together in a ball, then knead for 5 minutes until smooth. If the mixture is too sticky, add in a little more flour. It should be a soft dough which does make it a little easier to mix in a machine.

Tip the fruit onto the dough and knead by hand or in your machine, until evenly distributed. The fruit is added at this stage so that it stays intact, which is particularly important if mixing by machine.

Place the dough into a bowl, cover with a tea-towel and let it rise in a warm spot for 2 hours.

Take out the dough and dust with a little flour. Cut into 12 even sized pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Pack the little dough balls evenly in rows into a greased 22cm square tin and allow them to rise for a second time for about 2 1/2 hours.

Syringe the cross onto the top of the hot cross buns, making lines down the centre of each row in a criss-cross fashion.

Bake at 170 degrees Celsius for 45 mins to 1 hour or until lightly golden and cooked through.

Take out of the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before turning out onto a board. Cover with a tea-towel and allow them to cool down.

Cross

To make the cross mixture, whisk together all the ingredients in a very small bowl. Make this just before applying to the buns.

To serve

We love these served warm, halved and spread generously with butter and honey or jam. They are also beautiful halved, grilled on top to toast lightly, then dolloped with butter.