food with sam mannering
Those supermarket-bagged hot cross buns have nothing on the ones you can whip up in your own kitchen. And today is the best day of the year to get kneading.
Ihave one strict rule when it comes to hot cross buns – if I want them, I have to make them myself. Elizabeth I banned the sale of hot cross buns, except on Good Friday (and burials and Christmas) and I think I agree with her. Besides, Easter ought to include a spot of therapeutic kneading.
I spent a weekend trying to get this recipe exactly right. As is abundantly clear by the photo, my piping skills leave a lot to be desired – so, don’t let the decorating worry you too much.
I try not to be a purist, but I’m not a fan of additions such as chocolate. I think the key is to keep it simple.
I see nothing wrong, however, with mixing up the spices. I know ground cloves aren’t everybody’s cup of tea, but I love them. A little freshly grated nutmeg is delicious too. So, instead of going out to buy them this year, give these hot cross buns a go.
MY HOT CROSS BUNS
Serves: about 10, depending on how greedy everyone is Prep time: 20 minutes, plus 1 hour proving time Cook time: 20 minutes
25g yeast 1 tbsp honey 300ml warm milk 450g flour 1 tsp mixed spice 1 tsp cinnamon ½ tsp ground ginger ¼ tsp ground cloves 2 tbsp brown sugar 70g butter 2 eggs, beaten 120g currants or raisins 50g mixed peel zest of 2 lemons 60g flour, for crosses 1 egg beaten, to glaze
Combine yeast, honey and warm milk in a bowl and allow to stand for about 5 minutes for the yeast to activate and bubble up.
In the meantime, sift flour, spices and brown sugar into a large mixing bowl. Rub butter into the dry mixture. Combine two beaten eggs with the yeast mixture and mix well.
Create a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in wet mixture. Mix into a soft dough. Knead for several minutes until smooth, and then add the currants, mixed peel and lemon zest, and work into dough. Return dough to the bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise in a warm spot for about half an hour, or until it doubles in size.
Knock back the risen dough and divide into about 16 equal portions. Scales are useful for this; aim for 80g buns. Shape each evenly and place on a lined baking tray. Using a sharp knife, slash each one with a cross. Allow the buns to rise again to about double the size; this will take 20-30 minutes. Preheat oven to 200C. Combine the 60g of flour with several teaspoons of water; just enough to make a thick, smooth paste. Use to pipe crosses onto each bun. Carefully brush each bun with a little beaten egg to glaze, then bake for 15-20 minutes, until they are well risen and golden. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before eating.