This recipe is from Greg Brown’s original baking book A Taste of Browns. For the non-Melbournians out there Browns was one of the first really good artisan bakery stores in town. My copy is old, battered and bruised, but every Easter since I’ve lived in Italy I have relied on this recipe, which I’ve modified a little over time, mainly upping the quantities to get a better yield. Dried yeast is called for and it works well. A good hard bread flour is required, today I’m using a mix of ‘0’ manitoba, and ‘0’ organic grano duro. I am happy to have currants brought back from England to complete the fruit mix, and even happier to have salted English butter (another stowaway) to grace the finished product.
According to some, hot cross buns should be eaten from Easter Saturday onward, I tend to agree, where is the fun in a festive treat if you can have it all year round? Today I’m weighing fruit and sifting flour in larger quantities as my Australian friend, colleague and avid hot cross bunner, photographer Susan Wright, along with a couple of others, have ordered dozens of them.
Hot Cross Buns for Easter – recipe for a dozen
350 g plain baking flour Good pinch of salt 1 heaped tsp cinnamon 1 heaped tsp all spice 2 heaped tbs caster sugar (more if you like them sweeter) 7 g (1 sachet) dried yeast 1 large egg 200 ml warm water 125 g mixed currants and sultanas 40 g mixed peel – diced
Cross mixture – makes enough for 2 batches 125 g plain flour 150 ml warm water 50 ml vegetable oil
1. SIFT the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl
2. Add fruit to the dry ingredients
3. In a smaller bowl add yeast, warm water and beaten egg and MIX WELL.
4. Make a well in the flour mix and pour in the water mix, stirring well with a wooden spoon or silicone spaluta.
5. Rest in a nice warm place – over the oven turned on is good, wouldn’t an AGA be nice for this – for an hour.
6. Turn out dough onto a well floured surface, knock it back and knead for 5 minutes. Cut the dough in half and roll out into long cylinders about 5cm diameter, keeping them well floured. Cut the logs into small portions, about 5cm x 5 cm. Place them on an oven tray lined with baking paper and leave them to rise a second time, in the same nice warm spot, for about an hour. Heat the oven to 220 C.
7. Once buns have risen and are ready to bake, use a piping bag to pipe out the cross mixture onto the buns. The mixture should be manageable, not too liquid but not too firm. Put them in the oven, preheated to 220 C and bake for 20 – 25 minutes.
8. The final step is glazing them with a sugar syrup (100 g caster sugar 50 ml water), you can do this while they are still warm.