Saturday 7 April 2012

Hot Cross Buns v.3

Happy Easter!

As I promised last year, I'm back with volume three of my quest to create a great hot cross bun recipe. I haven't had much time for testing this year, so there are just a few minor changes - I've updated the recipe to include the candied peel process (which I've also adapted again) and refined a few quantities, including upping the yeast for a lighter bun.

It's quite fun (/embarrassing) to see how things have changed - see v.1 and v.2.


Also, as you may have seen on my sidebar/twitter/facebook, I am a finalist in the SAVEUR Best Food Blog Awards 2012 in the Best Baking & Desserts Blog category! I am so touched and honoured that I have been picked by the editors from all the nominations.

I thought I would show you a little technique I learnt recently for getting smooth, round spheres of bread dough. I was rushing a bit yesterday so some of these buns are actually a bit wonky (and the sultanas and peel poking out don't help), but the technique is a good one.

1/ As you can see on the left, tease the chunk of dough out into a disc using your fingers.

2/ Start tightly folding the edges of the disc inwards.

3/ Pull the last edge inwards and press it into the centre, forming a ball.

4/ Place the ball on a clean table (no flour), with the pulled-in edges facing down.

5/ Place your hand over the ball, touching the table with your fingertips and the heel of your hand, and press down lightly. Start moving your hand in small circles, slowly cupping your hand more as the ball forms but keeping it touching the table. The dough should almost push against your hand as it forms.

6/ Voila!

So there you go - a useful little tip for prettier bread rolls.

** If you want to try my hot cross buns, please make version 4 - thank you! **

Hot Cross Buns v.3
(heavily adapted from Delia Smith's Complete Cookery Course)

For the candied peel:
1 orange
1/2 lemon
100ml water
100g granulated sugar

For the dough:
150ml lukewarm water
1 tsp golden caster sugar
15g fresh yeast
450g strong white bread flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
4 whole cloves, ground
50g golden caster sugar
100g currants/sultanas/raisins
50ml milk
1 egg, beaten
50g butter, melted

For the crosses:
1 tbsp plain flour (not strong)
1 tbsp water

Use a vegetable peeler to take big strips of peel off the orange and lemon - try to have as little white on the inside of the strip as possible. Chop into 2-3mm little squares, stacking a few strips together for speed. Place them in a medium pan and add 3-4 cm of cold water. Bring up to a strong boil and let bubble for a few moments until the water is bright yellow. Strain into a bowl, then add more cold water and the peels and repeat. Repeat again, leaving in the strainer. Throw out the bitter yellow water.

Combine the 100ml of water and sugar in the pan and heat until the sugar has dissolved, swirling every now and again. Turn up the heat a little and add the blanched peel. Occasionally brush a little cold water around the sides to stop the sugar crystallizing. Let it bubble away until the peel is translucent, abut 10-15 minutes. Let cool for five minutes then drain the peel off from the syrup, reserving both.

To start the dough, pour the 150ml water into a small bowl, stir in the teaspoon of sugar and crumble the yeast in. Cover with cling film and leave in a warm place for 10 minutes until frothy. Meanwhile sift the flour, salt, sugar and spices into the bowl of your stand mixer (or a mixing bowl if making by hand). Stir in the dried fruit. Stir the peel into the milk (this stops them sticking). Pour in the frothy yeast mix, warm milk, melted butter and beaten egg. Attach the paddle attachment and mix until you have a combined dough.

Swap the paddle for the dough hook and knead for 6 minutes. (If making by hand make a well in dry to pour the wet into, then slowly pull in to create a dough. Then turn out onto floured surface and hand knead). Place the dough into a lightly oiled big bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for about 1hr 15 mins or until doubled.

Turn the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Punch down. Cut the dough with a sharp knife into 16 pieces. Roll into balls. Line a tin with baking parchment and then arrange the buns on the sheet. Cover again with cling film and leave to rise for 45 minutes until puffy.

Preheat the oven to 220C (425F). Combine the flour with the water to create a thick paste (adding a little more water if needed) then scoop it into a piping bag or a plastic bag with the corner cut off. Unwrap the buns and pipe the paste over each bun in the cross pattern. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and hollow when tapped. Brush the reserved peel syrup over the buns then remove to a cooling rack.

Serve either hot from the oven with plenty of salted butter or split, toasted and topped with lots more salted butter. They freeze very well.

(Makes 16)


  1. Amazing! I have wanted to make hot cross buns for ages... I think I might pluck up the courage this year (even though Easter will be over before I make them!) I don't need an excuse for making delicious bread!

  2. Awww I am so thrilled to read this post!!! Your buns are so puffy & beautiful!! I like that the cross is thin & elegant... I think everything you make has a touch of elegance, like having really light fingers! Magic fingers!! It's talent without a doubt! you really deserve the baking blog award!! And thank you for the rolling technique!! I am going to make them - now!!

  3. Congratulations on being a Saveur finalist! These are quite possibly the daintiest hot cross buns I have ever seen. Absolutely beautiful.

  4. These definitely look like your best buns yet! I love a glossy glaze on my hot cross buns and these are perfect.

    Huge congratulations on the award nomination, I'll definitely be voting for you :-)

  5. Beautiful hot cross buns, and congratulations on the nomination! Thoroughly, thoroughly deserved. :)

  6. I love the glistening tops on these!

  7. Emma, Congrats on the Saveur nomination!!!!! So awesome and well-deserved!
    I'm gonna head on over and vote for you right now:)

  8. Just cast my vote! You are amazing, Emma!

  9. perfect tutorial! and again, congrats on the nom :) totally well-deserved.

  10. Angela - I hope you do try! You could always omit the crosses on top and think of them as teacakes :)

    Maria - Aw, thank you Maria! I'm glad you found the technique helpful.

    leaf - I like the idea that they're dainty! Thanks for the congrats :)

    thelittleloaf - The glaze sank in overnight which was a bit annoying - but I just re-glazed them with some spare syrup before toasting them. Thanks so much for the vote :D

    Suz - Thank you! I'm so touched that they picked me.

    Elizabeth - I like them to look nice and shiny - almost reflective!

    Erin - Aw, yay! Thank you :D

    Filoner - You're amazing too, thanks!

    kels - I'm so glad you like the tutorial, I haven't done anything like it before :)

  11. Hi, I just found your blog via the Saveur (or however it's spelled) voting.

    You said you upped the yeast for lighter buns. The easiest way I've found to get lighter buns is to add the fat (butter) into your dough after the gluten has developed. What happens is the fat coats the gluten precursor molecules, making it hard for them to stick together to create that lovely gluten. so if you knead the dough for 5 minutes or so in the mixer with the dough hook, then add the butter (don't melt it, add it as a solid at room temperature in three or four batches, waiting for each one to be incorporated before doing the next) you will find the dough will be silky smooth and soft, and you should get beautiful light buns. I'd love to share my formula with you if you're interested, it's quite similar to yours :) shoot me a message via my facebook page!

  12. Jolene- Thank you! They were really delicious.

    Chris - I upped the yeast because I realised I had a pretty small amount for the amount of flour, which I knew would lighten them a little. Didn't want to lighten them too much as hot cross buns are traditionally fairly heavy, which I didn't want to lose. Great idea though - I've used the adding butter later idea for brioche and things, it creates such a lovely dough! Thanks for the help,

  13. Hey! Made these yesterday and they were great! I did skip the peel bit as I have never really liked peel in anything and I used liquid bun spice that I bought from a baker on ebay,

    I used that instead of all the different spices because I think it contains all those spices and smells and tastes just like bakery hot cross buns, yummy! I also used flour improver from the same seller to add a little extra to the flour - especially as we dont get bread flour here in Norway. I used 45g sugar to 30mls of milk and 30mls water mix for the glaze which turned out great. Thank you so much for this recipe, think it will be a regular!(even if it isn't easter!)

  14. éva-mona spoonencore.blogspot26 March 2013 at 18:51

    Those buns look fantastic!


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