Yesterday was a good day. My friend Nikki (www.underthelimetree.com) who runs a veggie b and b nearby had an open day in the garden of her hilltop home. We served tea and cake from our vintage eriba caravan while Nikki offered tasters of her wonderful massage skills. There was also tarot readings, art and photography classes to sign up to, pretty Indian scarves and jewellery to buy and best of all the sun shone all day long. I made a range of cakes and biscuits but the best seller of all were my hot cross buns made that morning. I could have made many more as I sold out quickly and the sadness was that I didn’t even get to taste a crumb. So it’s back to the kitchen to produce another batch and this time they will be all mine. I might just share one with my husband Mick as I have discovered a superstition that says sharing will ensure friendship throughout the coming year. As the saying goes ‘Half for you and half for me, between us two shall goodwill be’. Worth a try.
Hot cross buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday so you have a few days to get them made. Because I wanted them to be freshly baked yesterday I mixed and kneaded the dough the day before, then left it to rise for a couple of hours before shaping it into buns and leaving in the fridge overnight. In the morning I left them for another couple of hours on the kitchen table, then piped on the crosses and into the oven they went. The smell wafting through the house as they baked was delicious torture. Here’s my recipe which I promise you will taste a million times better than shop-bought and is sheer pleasure to make- I plan to toast and butter mine for Good Friday brekkie, then maybe another on Saturday and if there are any leftover on Sunday….
Hot cross buns
Dump the whole tray of buns, warm from the oven, onto the centre of the table for everyone to tear off and butter as they will. If you feel a baking urge now they will freeze beautifully and reheat well.
500g strong plain flour
½ tsp salt
85g light muscovado sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
½ tsp nutmeg
7g sachet easy blend yeast
140g mixed dried fruit
300ml half milk, half water
FOR THE TOP
3 tbsp plain flour
3 tbsp golden syrup
1 Mix the flour, salt, sugar and spices in a large bowl. Add the butter, cut into small pieces and rub in with your fingertips. Stir in the yeast and dried fruit. Heat the milk and water mix to lukewarm, then stir into the mixture to make a soft dough.
2 Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 mins until it is smooth and no longer sticky. Divide into 12 equal sized pieces and shape each into a small ball. Set in rows,a little apart, over a lightly buttered baking sheet. Cover with oiled polythene(a large food bag is perfect) and leave to rise for 2 hours.
3 Heat the oven to 200C/fan180C/Gas 6. Blend the flour in a small bowl with 2 tbsp cold water to make a smooth paste. Spoon into a small food bag and snip off the corner. Pipe a cross on top of each bun. Bake for 20-25 mins until the buns are nicely browned and sound hollow when tapped on the base.
4 Remove to wire rack. Gently heat the syrup then brush thickly over the buns to serve.