Hot Cross Buns are traditionally served at Easter and are delicious.
They are best served warm from the oven but are still good the next day, toasted like a tea cake.
This recipe uses a starter dough which helps to give more flavour.
To ring the changes use different types of dried fruits, not just the vine fruits. Dried apricots, peaches, mangos, cherries, cranberries and blueberries also work very well
Yield – 12 Buns
1.For the starter, mix the beaten egg with enough warm milk to make up approximately 290ml of liquid.
2. Whisk in the yeast, sugar and flour until the mixture is smooth and well combined, then cover and set aside in a warm place for 30 minutes.
3. For the dough, sieve the flour, salt and ground mixed spice into a large mixing bowl, then rub in the butter using your fingertips. Make a well in the centre of the mixture, then add the sugar and lemon (or orange) zest to the well and pour in the starter.
4. With your hands, gradually draw the flour at the edges of the bowl into the well in the centre, mixing well with the ferment starter, until the mixture comes together as a dough. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly until smooth and elastic.
5. Grease a large mixing bowl. Place the dough into the prepared bowl, then cover with a clean tea towel or cling film and set aside in a warm place for one hour to prove. Grease a baking tray
6. Turn out the risen dough onto a lightly floured work surface and carefully work the mixed dried fruit and grated apple into the dough until well combined and divide it into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and flatten slightly into a bun shape using the palms of your hands.
7. Arrange the buns on the tray so that they are fairly close but not touching. As they rise they will start to touch and once baked can be pulled apart. Cut a cross into each bun.
8. Cover the tray with greased cling film and put in a warm place to prove until they are nearly doubled in size.
9. Preheat the oven to 200C/Fan 180C/Gas 6.
10. Meanwhile, for the topping, mix the plain flour to a smooth paste with two tablespoons of cold water (if it is too runny add more flour).
11. When the buns have risen, remove the cling film. Spoon the flour mixture into a piping bag and pipe a cross over the cuts in each bun.
12. Transfer the buns to the oven and bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until risen and golden-brown. As soon as you remove the buns from the oven, brush them with the warm golden syrup or melted apricot jam, then set aside to cool on a wire rack.
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