Hot Cross Buns

I think the spices in these buns act like an olfactory memory aid because I have such vivid childhood memories of my mum making these over the Easter school holidays and of eating them for breakfast, yet I don’t remember anything about all of the chocolate eggs I know I ate. Baking them has been a ritual of my own Good Friday’s since before the children were born, and now I hope to instill the same nostalgia in Eve and Leah.

These are really very easy.

For 20 small buns you need:

500g of strong plain flour
half a teaspoon of salt
85g of demerara sugar
2 tsp of cinnamon powder
1 tsp of mixed spice
half a teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
50g of butter, cut into small pieces
100g of currents
heaped teaspoon of dried yeast
150ml of milk
150ml of water

For the crosses

3 heaped tablespoons of flour
3 tablespoons of golden syrup

1. Mix the flour, salt, spices and sugar in a large bowl.
2. Add the butter and rub in
3. Stir in the currents
4. Heat the milk and water in a saucepan until warm but not hot.
5. Sprinkle the yeast onto the warmed milk mixture and leave for fifteen minutes or until a frothy head has formed
6. Pour the yeast mixture into the bowl of flour and mix until a sticky dough forms
7. Tip the dough onto a floured surface and knead for a few minutes until the dough has lost all stickiness
8. Butter a large baking tray and divide the dough into 20 small balls, flattening each one slightly
9. Cover with a warm damp tea towel and leave somewhere warm for two hours, by which time the dough should have doubled in size. At this point put the oven onto 200C.
10. Make the paste for the crosses by mixing the flour with enough water to make a consistency like icing. Pour into a small plastic bag and snip a small hole out of one corner. Pipe a cross onto each bun
11. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
12. Heat the golden syrup and brush each bun with the warm glaze. Best eaten whilst still warm for tea on Good Friday.

I have a penchant for them for breakfast on Easter Sunday, toasted and accompanied with a soft boiled egg. Also very good, I think, with lemon curd.

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