It's Hot Cross Bun Time!

Hot cross buns, fresh from the oven are among my favourite things to eat. Today I shall be making a batch with my children ready for tomorrow. You can make them in two ways. Last year I put up my quick version using a bread machine. I intend making some of these this morning so that they are ready in time for tea; however, I’m also going to put together a batch for tomorrow made by the overnight method. These are for you if you’re going to be out a lot, as you don’t have to be there at any specific time. It really is the most flexible baking method I have ever found and (as those of you who have been visiting this site for a while will know) I’m a real enthusiast. This is a bread-making technique which deserves to be more widely known. It’s easy, the results are brilliant … and you really should try it!

Recipe: No-knead Hot Cross Buns

Ingredients

  • 540g strong bread flour
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • ½ cup soft light brown sugar
  • 1tsp salt
  • ½tsp yeast
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup sultanas
  • ¼ cup glaceed peel (optional, can be replaced with the zest of half an orange/lemon)
  • 370mls water, warmed to not quite ouch on the finger
  • 2 tbsps flavourless vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • a little flour for rolling
  • 1tbsp flour and a little water mixed into a thick paste
  • 1-2tbsps apricot jam, melted

Instructions

  1. Put the flour, both sugars, the salt, yeast, cinnamon and nutmeg into a large bowl and mix them all together very thoroughly.
  2. Stir in the sultanas and the peel (if you are using it).
  3. Add the water and the oil and mix a little. This cools the mixture a fraction.
  4. Add the egg and mix it all together very thoroughly using one hand. Keep the other hand clean to turn the bowl as you mix and then to hold the butter knife which you will need to scrape the mixing hand clean of dough.
  5. You should end up with a very sticky dough that is soft but not sloppy.
  6. Cover the bowl tightly with cling film and leave it at ordinary room temperature to rise for at least 5 hours, but it is perfectly OK to set it up at lunch time and leave it overnight. Do not put it in the airing cupboard or near a radiator. You want slow rising at a lower temperature.
  7. Line a couple of baking trays with silicone paper.
  8. When it is ready (and when you it suits you), tip out the dough on a floured board and scrape out the bowl.
  9. Gently fold in the edges towards the middle until you have a non-sticky surface which you can handle.
  10. Gently squish it out with your fingers into a sort of rough rectangle. Fold one narrow end into the middle, then fold the other end over the top of this and gently squash it all together on the board.
  11. Tear off lumps to make into buns by rolling them gently in your hands. How many you get will depend on how big you want your buns. Remember that they will rise again and double in size before baking. I would expect to get about 10-12 out of a batch, but every batch is slightly different.
  12. Place each ball of dough on one of your trays when it is ready. Remember to leave space between them to allow them room to rise.
  13. Using a VERY sharp knife to slash the tops of the buns with a cross. You need to get a blade as sharp as possible or you will just drag the dough.
  14. Cover the buns with clingfilm and put the trays somewhere warm to rest. Leave them for about an hour, or until the buns have doubled in size.
  15. Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 7, 220°C, 425°F with an empty tray at the bottom of the oven.
  16. When the buns are risen, turn the oven down to Gas mark 6, 200°C, 400°F and bake them in the middle of the oven for about 20 minutes. To check whether they are cooked, take one out and tap it on the bottom with a knuckle. It should sound hollow. If it doesn’t, it needs to go back into the oven for a couple more minutes.
  17. When they are cooked, put them on a cooling tray and try to resist them until they are cool enough to eat!

Cooking time (duration): two lots of about 10 minutes + rising time

Diet type: Dairy-free

Number of servings (yield): 12

Meal type: breakfast, snack, whenever you fancy!

Microformatting by hRecipe.

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