An easy recipe for a sweet and spiced Easter bun with a few tips
Can you believe Easter is nearly here? This year Kevin and I will be spending it in Germany, tripping around the country on trains and visiting friends. We can’t wait!
What are your plans?
Whatever they are, please tell me they include eating hot cross buns. Do they? It wasn’t until I moved to the other side of the world that I learned that most people don’t know what hot cross buns are. These poor people! How did they survive Easter? Probably with lots of chocolate instead right?
If you fall into this category then don’t worry. You’re about to learn a thing or two about hot cross buns and your Easter may never be the same again (in a really good way). If you grew up on hot cross buns, then stay tuned for an easy recipe!
The Hot Cross Bun – what is it?
These little buns are full of flavour. They are sweet and are typically spiced with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger and are studded with dried fruit like raisins, sultanas, currents and apricots. They are most commonly eaten in the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and India and are traditionally eaten on Good Friday to mark the end of Lent. This isn’t usually the case in New Zealand though as you will see us eating these soon after Christmas day and sometime all year round (we love them).
These buns are marked with a cross to signify the Crucifixion of Jesus and the spices signify the spices used to embalm him at his burial.
To me, it doesn’t feel like Easter until I’ve baked or at least eaten a dozen (…or so) of hot cross buns. There’s something so magical and comforting about the smell of freshly baked buns wafting through the house. In my opinion, the only way to eat them is when they are either grilled, toasted, or fresh out of the oven, topped with a good dollop of butter (obviously).
Easy to make, really!
Perhaps the best part about these buns is that they are so simple to make! Usually the idea of baking bread in any form can be a little daunting, but not with this recipe. After all, it comes from the New Zealand baker, Jo Seagar, whose motto is: “Easy Peasy”. The hardest thing is having to wait an hour for the dough to proof, which isn’t really so bad.
A few tips:
- You will need a really, really large bowl for these buns. I don’t have a really large bowl but I do have a really large soup saucepan which does the job perfectly. If you have neither, you can easily halve the recipe, or use two smaller bowls. This recipe makes 30 buns, which means plenty to share around and plenty to stock in your freezer.
- You can add any dried fruit you like to these. My personal favourites are dried apricots, cranberries and/or sultanas – use whatever you have/like best.
- If you are baking these in the Czech Republic (like me), then be sure to use a hard bread flour or a combination of hladka and wholewheat flour. Using only hladka will result in a very wet and sticky dough which makes it hard to knead.
Where should you proof your dough?
- Yeast needs a nice cosy temperature to do it’s magic and without it, it doesn’t survive very well. Thus, creating a warm place for your yeast is important. I don’t have a hot water cupboard or extra warm place in my apartment so what I find easiest is to preheat my oven to 50 C for about 5 minutes or so, then turn it off. Once it is warm (not hot), I place my dough to proof in the oven and it seems to make the yeast super happy every time.
Happy hot cross bun baking/eating/enjoying!
- 15g (4 teaspoons) dried active yeast
- 310mls (1¼ cup) warm water, lukewarm
- 2 teaspoons white sugar
- 500mls (2 cups) milk
- 75g butter
- 7 cup white high-grade flour, or 3½ cup plain white flour and 3½ cup wholemeal flour
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons mixed spice
- ¼ cup caster sugar
- ¾ cup raisins or sultanas
- ½ cup currants, cranberries or dried apricots, diced
- ½ cup chopped crystalised peel or orange/lemon zest (75g)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 125g (1 cup) plain white flour
- 250mls (1 cup) water
- 50g (¼ cup) white sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1. Line two baking trays with baking paper. In a small bowl combine the yeast, warm water and sugar. Stir, cover and leave in a warm place until the mixture becomes frothy (about 15 minutes).
- 2. In a medium sized saucepan, melt the butter and add the milk. Once butter has melted, and the milk is warm, take off the heat and set aside.
- 3.In a very large mixing bowl, sift the flour, salt and spices and whisk to combine. Add sugar and dried fruit and mix to combine. Make a well in the middle and pour in the warm milk, melted butter, beaten egg and yeast mixture. Mix well then turn the dough out onto a floured bench and knead the mixture (about 10 minutes).
- 4. Divide dough into 30 pieces and roll into buns. Place on prepared baking trays and cover with cling film or a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place (hot water cupboard) until the buns have doubled in size, approximately one hour.
- Preheat oven to 220C (430F).
- 5. Crosses: For the crosses, place flour and cold water in a small balls and mix to combine. Place mixture in a small piping bag (or Ziploc bag and snip the corner). Pipe out crosses on to the buns. Bake for 20 minutes.
- 6. Glaze: Mix the caster sugar and water glaze and brush over the hot cross buns as they come out of the oven. Enjoy warm with butter.
- These buns are best eaten straight from the oven but keep well in an airtight container. Reheat in a toaster, or grill in the oven. They also freeze very well too.