How to make the best hot cross buns, from The Proof's Francesca Strange
625g strong white flour
100g caster sugar
15g dry yeast
90g unsalted butter
1.5 eggs (beaten)
Grate zest of 1 orange
50g mixed candied peel
2tsp mixed spice
For the topping:
125g plain flour
For the glaze
3 tbsp apricot jam
Makes approx. 18 buns, to be demolished in one sitting
- Heat the milk in a pan until simmering then remove from the heat. Add the chopped butter and combine until it has melted – leave this to cool to a lukewarm temperature.
- In a large bowl add the flour, sugar, salt and dried yeast and mix together. Make a well in the middle of the dry mixture and add your now lukewarm milk and butter mixture into the middle plus your beaten eggs and gently combine everything together with your hands until you have a very sticky dough.
- Tip your dough onto a floured surface and start to knead it gently for around 5 minutes until it becomes smooth and has an elasticity to it. This can also be done in a stand mixer with a dough hook if you fancy taking it easy.
- Lightly oil a bowl and place your lovely, smooth dough inside and cover with lightly oiled cling film and leave to rest in a warm place until doubled in size.
- Once doubled, pour the dough out onto your work surface again and add the zest, candied peel, sultanas and spices, kneading together for a further 5 minutes until everything is incorporated and well distributed throughout.
- Put this fruity mix back into your oiled bowl, cover and set aside again for another 1 hour.
- After 1 hour the dough should have doubled in size again and is ready for you to shape.
- Turn out onto your work surface and divide the dough into approx. 16-20 pieces depending on how big you like your buns.
- Roll each piece into a satisfying, smooth ball and place onto parchment lined baking trays – leave some space between each one to give it room to expand, but not too much so that they can join.
- Cover with a slightly damp tea towel and leave to prove for a final 1 hour.
- Pre-heat your oven to 220c/200c fan/gas mark 7.
- Now make your cross mixture by mixing your flour with the water and a drop of sunflower oil to make a paste. Spoon into an icing bag and pipe a cross onto each bun once they have finished their last hour of proving.
- Bake in your pre-heated oven for 20 minutes until golden brown.
- Heat the apricot jam in a pan or in the microwave until it has melted, get rid of any chunks of fruit and brush over your buns.
- Leave to cool, if you can wait, and enjoy smothered in butter.
And if you'd rather someone else do all the hard work, you can order for Easter delivery from Francesca herself right here.