Traditionally hot cross buns were not supposed to be eaten until midday on Good Friday. Nowadays they are in the supermarkets all year round.
Although we normally associate these buns with the Christian festival of Easter, they actually date back to pagan times when they were made in honour of the goddess Eostre.
If you fancy making your own, rather than buying the soft and 'pappy' mass produced ones, here is a 'fail-safe' recipe:
250g strong bread flour
1 teaspoon fast action dried yeast
2 level teaspoon mixed spice
1 level teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons golden caster sugar
130ml warm milk
60 g dried fruit (of your choice)
- Put all dry ingredients (except for dried fruit) into bowl, rub in the butter.
- Make a well in the centre and pour in warm milk.
- Mix dry ingredients into wet with dough scraper or fork.
- When the ingredients start to combine, use hand to squeeze the mixture together into a dough.
- Turn out onto work surface and knead until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. It usually takes about 10 minutes.
- Put dough back in bowl, cover and leave to prove until doubled in size (about 1 hour in ambient temperature).
- Scrape out on to work surface and press out into a rectangle. Sprinkle dried fruit onto 2/3rds of dough.
- Fold over in thirds. Knead gently until fruit is evenly distributed throughout.
- Shape into round balls and place on lined baking tray. Leave to rise until doubled in size (approx 30-45 mins).
- Brush with egg wash, top with crosses (equal quantities plain flour and water piped on).
- Place in preheated oven 190C/Mark 5 for 15 mins until golden brown.
- Brush with stock/sugar syrup (equal quantities of sugar and water boiled until syrupy) as soon as they come out of the oven.
For the hot cross buns we sell at The Bistro, our restaurant in the centre of Devizes, we use half spelt flour and half white bread flour for better taste and more nutrients.