Baking hot cross buns this Easter? Here are my top tips…

I’ve written an article for Jamie Oliver with some top tips for getting the best out of baking your own hot cross buns!

hot cross buns

Below are some snippets from the article, the full one is available at: http://www.jamieoliver.com/news-and-features/features/homemade-hot-cross-buns/#dVDwEUpgQPQFt8T1.97

According to ancient superstition, baking your own hot cross buns on Good Friday will help you win friends, influence people, protect against kitchen fires, and guarantee that all bread baked in your kitchen turns out perfectly.

It’s not as though we should need to be persuaded to tackle a bake like the hot cross bun (the home bakers’ “challenging-but-achievable” holy grail), but if I did then the list above would swing it for me every time.

There are tonnes of stories, superstitions, fables, bits of folklore and even a well-known song about hot cross buns, but my favourite part of their history is a certain decree passed by Queen Elizabeth in the 1500’s. Lizzie said that bakers could only sell hot cross buns on Good Friday and Christmas, which led to good home-bakers (and those who had enough money to buy in the spices and rich ingredients needed) to covertly bake them at home, and risk full-batch confiscation if busted by the hot cross bun cops…

Tips for perfect hot cross buns

  • Use your baking muscles when making hot cross buns – no cheating with a dough hook on a mixer!  Use your hands when mixing ingredients and engage your tummy muscles when kneading – I guarantee you’ll end up with a warm glow, a bit of a sweaty brow and you’ll absolutely deserve the treat of a hot bun fresh out of the oven.
  • When your dough is rising, sit the baking tray on top of a big bowl of hot water, so the steam and heat will transfer to the dough and it’ll rise a bit quicker
  • Try splitting your dough into two and using currants in one and cranberries in the other, or even dried cherries for a bit of a change
  • To avoid dry buns, soak your dried fruit for about half an hour in hot water – this’ll make them swell and keep your buns satisfyingly plump for longer
  • Try a few different recipes for the cross on top – some people use a standard water and flour bun wash, but you can also try a line of thinly rolled marzipan, or a little dotted line of candied peel, raisins or even poppy or chia seeds for a bit of a change
  • Play around with different spices, such as cardamom or saffron, if you have some in the back of your cupboard
  • Freeze any spare baked buns you have leftover – they’ll make a brilliant last minute treat if defrosted and toasted later in the year
  • Finally, if you forget about your buns and they go a bit stale, consider baking a brilliant hot cross bun-stylee bread and butter pudding

Read more at http://www.jamieoliver.com/news-and-features/features/homemade-hot-cross-buns/#m5z9ezZ8RI93oSz5.99