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Step by Step - Hot Cross Buns
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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.
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.
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.
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.
Large bowl and small bowl
Round bladed knife
2 large baking trays
Tea towel or clingfilm
Small piping bag and nozzle
This recipe was first published in Fri Mar 01 00:00:00 GMT 2002.