Grandmother Sylvia from Shrewsbury shares her favourite Easter recipe. These fruity hot cross buns are a traditional treat that’s sure to go down well with friends and family.
- 500 g strong white bread flour
- 60 g golden caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 teaspoons mixed spice
- 7g packet easy-blend dried yeast
- 60 g unsalted butter
- 275 ml full fat milk
- Zest of 1 orange
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 200g sultanas or mixed dried fruit
For the crosses
- 50g plain flour
- 5 tablespoons water (approx.)
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- Apricot jam, runny honey or golden syrup
- Piping bag
- Greased baking tray or tin
- Put the butter in a small saucepan and gently warm until it melts. Add the milk and grated orange zest and continue to heat gently until it’s lukewarm. Take care it doesn’t get too hot – you should be able to dip a finger in it.
- Add the flour, sugar, salt, mixed spice and yeast to a large mixing bowl and stir well.
- Make a well in the centre of the flour, then pour in most of the milk mixture and the eggs. Mix well; if it’s too dry, add the rest of the milk.
Make sure the milk isn’t too hot – this will kill the yeast.
Use a spare toothbrush to get all the orange peel out of the grater. This also makes it easier to clean afterwards.
I used 275 ml of milk. The amount of liquid you need depends on the flour and egg. Sometimes you need all the milk, sometimes less.
If you oil the surface rathe
If you oil the surface rather than using flour, this stops the mixture getting too dry.
You can also use a stand mixer and dough hook instead of kneading by hand. To make the fruit easier to incorporate, flatten the dough, scatter on the fruit and roll it up.
- Turn out onto an oiled surface and knead by hand for about 5 minutes.
- Add the sultanas or dried fruit and continue to knead for another five minutes
- Place the dough in a greased bowl covered with lightly oiled cling film, and leave it in a warm place for an hour.
- Divide the dough into 12 to 16 roughly equal pieces. Shape these gently with your hands and space them evenly on a greased baking tray. Leave them to rise for another hour, covered with a greased piece of cling film.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (Fan 180°C / Gas Mark 6)
- Combine the flour for the crosses with one teaspoon of oil, then one tablespoon of water at a time until it forms a thick paste (around 4 and a bit tablespoons). Put this in a piping bag and decorate the buns with the traditional cross shape.
You need to glaze the buns while they’re still hot. I used warm golden syrup as there’s no need to strain it.
- Brush the tops of the buns with milk and bake for around 20 minutes, or until they are golden brown
- When the buns are nearly ready, warm your jam or syrup very gently in a pan. This is just to make it runny – be careful not to burn yourself. Stain out any chunks if you’re using jam, and brush the glaze onto the buns shortly after they come out of the oven.
The buns don’t have artificial preservatives, so eat them while they’re fresh. If they’ve gone a little stale, try microwaving them on high for 20 seconds to freshen them up.
If you don’t glaze them, you can pop them in the freezer.
Grandmother Sylvia is no baking novice. She’s been making cakes, biscuits and pastries for over 60 years, and bakes something every week for her local Age Concern lunch club.