Hot Cross Buns

Spiced, fruited, enriched buns have a long history: as Elizabeth David noted, in 1592 the London Clerk of Markets restricted their sale to funerals, Christmas and Good Friday. The first reference to “hot cross buns” may be from as recently as 1733; today, industrial manufacturers in Britain mass produce what they call hot cross buns all year round. Duncan suggests serving them “toasted and smothered with butter, or simply enjoyed with a cup of tea”.

FROM MIXING TO OVEN: 4–5 hours, or overnight plus 1–2 hours
BAKING TIME: 15–20 minutes

Ingredients

For the Dough

  • 500g/1lb 2oz/ cups white bread flour
  • 50g/oz/¼ cup caster/superfine sugar
  • 5g/1 tsp fine/table salt
  • 2–3g/½–¾ tsp ground mixed spice/pumpkin pie spice
  • 75g/oz/5 tbsp butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 10g/2 tsp fresh yeast
  • 90g/oz/6 tbsp water
  • 150g/oz /scant cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 175g/6oz/¾ cup fruit mincemeat or a mixture of dried fruits

For the Paste

  • 100g/oz/¾ cup plain/all-purpose flour
  • 30g/1oz/2 tbsp caster/superfine sugar
  • 80g/oz/ cup milk
  • 1 egg, beaten, for glazing

Method

  1. Mix the flour, sugar, salt and spice together in a bowl and rub the softened butter in with your fingertips.
  2. Crumble the yeast into the water, mix until dissolved and pour this yeasty water along with the milk and egg into the flour. Mix together thoroughly, then knead to make a soft, supple dough. Don’t panic if it feels a little wetter and stickier than you’re used to, just stay with it and keep kneading until you get there.
  3. Gently work the mincemeat or dried fruit into the dough until distributed evenly without breaking the fruit up too much, which would leave dirty-looking streaks in the buns. Cover and leave to rise at room temperature for 3 hours, or in the refrigerator overnight.
  4. Grease a baking sheet with butter. Cut the dough into 10 equal-size pieces, shape into balls and place on the baking sheet, about 5cm/2in apart so they can rise and grow without touching. Cover and leave to rise for 1–1½ hours, or until doubled in size.
  5. Heat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/375°F/gas 5. Mix together the paste ingredients and put into a piping/pastry bag. Brush the top of each bun with beaten egg and pipe a cross onto it. Bake the buns for 15–20 minutes until rich gold in colour.

DUNCAN GLENDINNING