These 2023 hot cross buns are an upgraded version of a previous 2021 recipe. I’m always keen to make the perfect hot cross bun, and I’m pretty happy with this version!
These buns are made with a sourdough starter and dry yeast. You could make this recipe without the sourdough starter – just add more dry yeast as suggested in the ingredients list.
They have a lot of fruit which has been soaked in Pedro Ximinez sherry, although any port or muscat would do. They also have puréed orange and candied orange for a real orange hit!
300g mix of sultanas and raisins
40mls Pedro Ximinez or port or muscat
1 whole orange
625g strong flour
7g dried yeast (use 10g if not including starter)
125g sourdough starter
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
I teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice
1/2 teaspoon each of ground ginger and cloves
50g brown sugar
30g golden syrup
2 medium free-range eggs, well beaten
60g unsalted butter, in small pieces
200g full fat milk at room temperature
150g apple juice
50g candied orange peel
Extra free-range egg, for brushing
50g caster sugar
50g golden syrup
Soak the raisins and sultanas in the Pedro Ximinez or port or muscat for up to 3 hours to plump up the fruit.
Put the orange into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for up to an hour until the orange is soft.
Let the orange cool, then cut in half and remove the pips. Purée the orange in a food processor. Measure 70g for the dough, and reserve the rest for another batch of dough. It freezes well.
Starting with the flour, add all the other ingredients (except dried fruit and candied orange peel) to a large bowl. Just make sure the yeast is on one side of the bowl and salt on the other.
Mix everything roughly together using a wooden spoon, just to amalgamate the ingredients. Leave to rest for 20 minutes.
Using the dough hook of an electric mixer, knead on low speed for 10 -15 minutes until the dough is soft, shiny and passes the windowpane test. This dough is initially quite wet, so it will take 10 minutes or more kneading to bring it to that lovely elastic consistency you are looking for.
Add the sultanas, raisins and any residual alcohol that hasn’t soaked into the fruit, and the candied orange peel. Mix for about a minute on low to distribute the fruit evenly through the dough.
Remove the bowl from the machine and cover with a plastic bag or tea towel. Leave to prove in a warm place for 2 hours.
The dough should have doubled in size. Carefully remove the risen dough from the bowl and place on a board or bench top which has been lightly floured. Putting a little more flour on your hands to stop the dough from sticking, flatten the dough to a rough rectangle, and fold in half lengthways. Cut in two and roll each half into a sausage.
You should get 16 large hot cross buns from the mixture. Take one sausage and divide into two, then divide each into 4 pieces.
To shape your buns, take one piece and roll into a ball, and with your cupped hand over the top of the ball, keep rolling on the board or bench top till you feel the dough tightening and developing a nice ball shape.
Repeat with remaining balls. Do the same thing with the other sausage.
Place the 16 balls – now buns – onto a large baking tray lined with baking paper.
Cover with a large plastic bag or a tea towel and leave to prove again. I prove this second time in the fridge overnight. You can also prove at room temperature for an hour or more until the buns have grown a little in size. (They don’t get huge – this happens in the oven.)
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C fan forced or 190 degrees C non fan for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the crosses. Mix the flour and water together to make a dough. Place the dough on a clean surface dusted with flour and roll into a sausage about 1cm thick. Cut the sausage in half, and cut each half into 8 pieces. Roll out each piece again to make 2 thin strips. You should have 32 strips in total. Brush the risen buns with the beaten egg and lay the dough strips on top in the shape of a cross. Brush the crosses with egg too.
Put the tray into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the buns are a deep golden brown.
While the buns are baking, make the glaze. Put the caster sugar, golden syrup and water into a small saucepan and heat gently on the stovetop stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Simmer for 2 or 3 minutes until the glaze has thickened slightly.
Once the buns are cooked, remove from the oven. Brush the warm syrup over the warm buns, making sure you brush the sides as well.
These buns are best eaten on the day, preferably while warm, with lots of good quality butter.
The next day, split and toast and serve with, of course, more butter!
Hot cross buns freeze well too, so make a pile that you can store in the freezer and reheat as necessary.
NB Reheat in the oven, the buns don’t do well in the microwave.