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    Hot Cross Buns 2002

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    Hot Cross Buns 2002

    With their symbolic pastry cross, hot cross buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday. Although their actual origins are unclear, it is believed that they date back to pagan times and the cross was added to ward off bad luck. They used to be baked as one large loaf, but it's now more usual to see them as individual buns. They are best eaten warm or cut in half, toasted and spread with butter. You can enjoy them all year round, too, simply omit the cross.

    • Vegetarian


    • 450g Waitrose Very Strong Canadian Flour
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 3½ tsp Bart Spices Mixed Spice
    • 100g caster sugar
    • 7g sachet McDougalls Fast Action Dried Yeast
    • ½ x 500g pack Waitrose Dried Mixed Fruit
    • 50g butter
    • 250ml milk, plus 3 tbsp extra for the glaze
    • 1 medium egg, beaten
    • 50g plain flour


    1. Sift the strong flour, salt and 3 tsp mixed spice into a large bowl to lightly combine the ingredients. Add 50g sugar, the yeast and mixed fruit to the flour mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until just combined.
    2. Gently heat butter in a small pan for 1-2 minutes until melted, add 250ml milk and heat for 1 minute until tepid. Pour the milk, butter and egg into the flour and stir thoroughly to form a soft dough, using a round bladed knife.
    3. Turn out onto a lightly-floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Kneading helps to develop the gluten contained in the flour which enables the dough to rise.
    4. Divide the dough into 12 equal sized pieces and shape into a ball. Then place onto the lightly-greased, large baking sheets, making sure that there is space between each of the buns. Cover with a clean, damp tea towel or lightly-oiled clingfilm. Leave to prove in a warm place for about 1-1½ hours, until doubled in size.
    5. Preheat oven to 190°C, gas mark 5. To make the crosses, put the plain flour in a small bowl and gradually add 5-6 tbsp cold water to form a smooth, thick paste. Spoon this mixture into a small piping bag and neatly pipe a cross over each of the buns. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown in colour.
    6. Meanwhile, prepare the glaze. Place the remaining milk, 3 tbsp cold water, the remaining mixed spice and sugar in a small pan and heat gently for 2-3 minutes, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. When the buns are cooked, transfer them onto a cooling rack and brush the glaze over each one twice. Allow to cool.

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    Cook's tips

    Fast Action Dried Yeast
    Yeast works with the flour to produce bubbles of carbon dioxide that are trapped by the gluten in the flour, causing the bread to rise. Yeast must be warm for it to work: its activity will be very slow if it is too cold and it is killed off if too hot. Our recipe uses fast action dried yeast which has been specially developed to be quick and easy to use. It is added straight to the flour, without the need to reconstitute it in water first or require more than one knead or prove.

    Strong Flour
    This is flour which has a high protein level in the form of gluten. It is the gluten in the flour which is developed when the dough is kneaded. This gluten stretches around the bubbles of gas produced by the yeast to give the bread a well-risen texture.

    This is the technique which is used to develop the gluten in the dough. To knead, use the heel of your hand to stretch out the dough then fold it in half and continue. Keep kneading for 5-10 minutes. Once fully kneaded the dough will become smooth and elastic.

    This is the time that the bread is left covered either with lightly-oiled clingfilm or a clean, damp tea towel. It is usually left for 1½ to 2 hours in a warm place, until doubled in size. An airing cupboard or warm room is ideal.

    Cross Decoration
    If you don't have a piping bag and plain nozzle to pipe the cross on each bun, use a small new food bag with the corner snipped off.

    Kitchen tools

    Large bowl and small bowl
    Wooden Spoon
    Small pan
    Round bladed knife
    2 large baking trays
    Tea towel or clingfilm
    Small piping bag and nozzle
    Small pan
    Cooling rack
    Pastry brush


    Average user rating

    4 stars