Traditionally eaten on Good Friday, hot cross buns are small yeast buns flavoured with spices and raisins or sultanas. The custom of eating the buns on Good Friday was popularised in Tudor England when a law was introduced that forbade the sale of the spiced buns except on Good Friday, Christmas and at burials.

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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon dried yeast or 30 g (1 oz) fresh yeast
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz/4 cups) white strong flour
  • 2 tablespoons caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 40 g ( oz) butter
  • 150 g ( oz/ cups) sultanas

Paste for Crosses

  • 30 g (1 oz/¼ cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • ¼ teaspoon caster (superfine) sugar

Glaze

  • ½ tablespoons caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon powdered gelatine

Method

  1. In a small bowl, put the yeast, 2 teaspoons of the flour, 1 teaspoon of the sugar and 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) warm water and stir well. Leave in a draught-free place for 10 minutes, or until bubbles appear on the surface. The mixture should be frothy and slightly increased in volume. If your yeast doesn’t foam, it is dead, so you will have to discard it and start again.
  2. Sift the remaining flour and spices into a large bowl and stir in the sugar. Using your fingertips, rub in the butter. Stir in the sultanas. Make a well in the centre, stir in the yeast mixture and up to 185 ml (6 fl oz/¾ cup) water to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, or until smooth, adding more flour if necessary, to prevent sticking. Place the dough in a large floured bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and leave in a draught-free place for 30–40 minutes, or until doubled in size.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/Gas 6). Lightly grease a baking tray. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently to deflate. Divide into 12 portions and roll each into a ball. Place the balls on the tray, just touching each other, in a rectangle three rolls wide and four rolls long. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave in a draught-free place for 20 minutes, or until nearly doubled in size.
  4. To make the crosses, mix the flour, sugar and tablespoons water into a paste. Spoon into a piping (icing) bag and pipe crosses on top of the buns. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. To make the glaze, put the sugar, gelatine and 1 tablespoon water in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until dissolved. Brush over the hot buns and leave to cool.

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