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Hot Cross Buns - Margaret Browne
Hot cross buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday, but I love them at any time!
1 large egg, beaten
215ml/7½fl oz warm water
15g/½oz fresh yeast
1 tsp sugar
55g/2oz strong white flour
For the dough
450g/1lb strong white flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground mace or nutmeg
85g/3oz unsalted butter
170g/6oz mixed dried fruit or sultanas
2 tbsp plain flour
Oil, for greasing
1 tbsp apricot or your own favourite glaze gently heated, for glazing
Section 1: Mix the beaten egg with enough warm water to give approximately 290ml/½ pint of liquid. Whisk in the yeast, sugar and flour, cover and put in a warm place by a radiator or on the cool plate of the cooker for about 30 minutes or until it starts to froth.
Section 2: Start making the dough. Sieve the flour, salt and your spice of choice into a mixing bowl and rub in the butter. Make a well in the centre and put the sugar in the well. Pour on the bubbling yeast mixture
Gradually draw in the flour and mix vigorously, then knead to a smooth, elastic dough.
Carefully work in the mixed dried fruit. Shape the dough into a ball, put it in a warm, greased bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour.
Turn out the dough and knead to knock out any air bubbles and give an even texture. Shape it into a ball again, put back into the bowl, cover and put back to rise for another 45 minutes.
Turn out the dough again and divide into 12 even pieces. Shape them into buns and leave to rest for a few minutes on the work surface covered with the tea towel.
Place the buns on a lightly greased baking sheet. Slightly flatten each bun and then cut into quarters, cutting almost all the way through the dough, so that as each bun rises, it has a well-marked cross on it.
Cover again and put in a warm place and leave to rise for 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 240C/475F/Gas 8. Make a paste for the crosses on the buns with the plain flour and 2 tbsp cold water. Mix until it is soft enough to pipe through a nozzle.
Pipe a cross on each bun. Bake the buns for 8 -12 minutes or until risen and golden. Brush the buns with hot apricot jam as soon as they are ready. Best eaten warm