Hot Cross Buns by Eastcourt Manor

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Following last year’s extensive research into the best hot cross bun recipe, here is the definitive Eastcourt Manor version.

Hot cross buns

Ingredients

Bread flour             600g
Butter                       90g
Sugar                         100g
Salt                             ¾ tsp
Allspice                    ¾ tsp
Fast-action yeast  1 tsp
Milk                            300g
Eggs                           1
Currants                   180g
Candied peel            60g

Crossing paste

Bread flour               6 tbsp
Water                          6 tbsp

Simple syrup

Sugar                           6 tbsp
Boiling water            6 tbsp

Method

Mix and knead

Rub the butter into the flour so the butter breaks up into small pieces. Add the sugar, salt, allspice and fast-action yeast. Weigh the milk in a jug and beat in the egg. Add the milk and eggs to the flour mixture and combine until it forms a soft smooth dough.

Knead the dough on your worktop by gently stretching and folding the dough until it becomes smooth, shiny and holds its shape well – about 5 minutes.

Cover the dough with clingfilm for 10 minutes.

Stretch the dough out, add the currants and candied peel and continue kneading until all the fruit is incorporated.

Return to the bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to rest at room temperature.

After 30 minutes, turn the dough out onto the worksurface, gently stretch it out and fold in three. Return to the bowl and cover.

Shaping

After another 30 minutes, turn the dough onto the worksurface. Divide evenly into 16-18 pieces of dough (75-80g each for 18 buns; 85-90g each for 16 buns).

Shape the buns by forming your hand into a claw with your fingers touching the worktop. Rest your palm gently on top of the dough and move your hand round and round in a circle. The dough should form up into a nice bun shaped ball.

Put the buns into a baking tray or in a very large cake tin to prove, covered with clingfilm, for about an hour and a half. The buns should have nearly doubled in size and be soft and puffy to the touch.

Preheat the oven to 220°C.

Make the crossing paste by mixing the flour and water and use an icing bag (or a plastic bag with the corner cut off) to pipe the crosses on top of the buns.

Bake the buns for 25 minutes. Add steam at the start of the bake by spraying the sides of the oven with water or pouring boiling water into a preheated metal tray in the bottom of the oven. Keep a careful eye on the buns – if they bake too long the crossing paste will lose its contrasting colour.

When the buns are cool, make a simple syrup by dissolving the sugar into boiling water. Brush the hot syrup on top of the buns.