This is the third of my traditional British recipes for patriotic Remainers who see the future of our country in the sunny uplands of the European Union. My first, the Great British Remainalade was a huge hit. My second recipe, a traditional English Christmas Cake reflects of our nation’s unusual love of dried fruit and booze – but for this one I’ve turned to Easter and Hot Cross Buns. Good Friday seems a good day to put this recipe up on Master in the Kitchen.
Few outside of the UK are familiar with these plump, spiced, fruit buns. The United Kingdom may be a far more secular space these days but when these little buns first made an appearance Britain was first and foremost a Christian country and this recipe is a reflection of that heritage; the cross a symbol of Christ’s sacrifice during Holy Week. Like Remainalade and Christmas Cake these buns have their fair-share of dried fruit, grated orange and spices. They taste delicious straight out of the oven when they are still soft, moist and steaming – or alternatively toasted under a grill. Traditionally they are cut in two and covered in cultured butter with a dollop of jam of choice.
The recipe is courtesy of Daniel Stevens whose book “Bread” River Cottage Handbook No.3 is one of the best books on bread I own (and believe me when I say I own more cook books than I need!). I’ve just adapted it slightly but I can highly recommend this recipe if you are planning on doing some baking over the Easter week-end.
500 gr hard white flour
125 ml warm water
125 ml buttermilk – or milk if you don’t have any (room temp.)
5 gr dried yeast
50 gr caster sugar
50 gr butter
1 medium egg
100 gr raisins or sultanas or currants (or a mixture)
Finely grated zest of an orange
1 tsp. mixed spice or cinnamon or speculaas spice
For the cross
50 gr white flour
100 ml water
For the finish
1 tbsp. jam (any)
1 tbsp. water
Mix the flour, water, buttermilk (or milk), yeast, salt and sugar in a bowl or in food mixer with the dough hook on. Add the egg and butter to the mix. When sufficiently mixed add the dried fruit, the zest of the orange and the spice and knead until they have all blended together. Cover the dough and leave to rise for 1-2 hours until it has doubled in size.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade.
Knock back the risen dough and divide into 8 equal pieces and shape them into a round. Place them on a baking tray with some baking paper and leave to double in size – anywhere from 30 mins. to 1 hour.
For the cross mix the flour and the water together in a bowl and whisk thoroughly so there are no more lumps in the mixture. Place it in a piping bag and pipe the crosses over the buns. Transfer them to the oven and leave them for 20-30 minutes until they have browned nicely on the top and are cooked through in the middle.
Finish off by melting the jam and water in a small pan and then glazing the top to give them their characteristic shiny, slightly sticky exterior.