Twenty three years ago (it is now Easter 2015) I made what turned out to be the best hot-cross buns I had ever tasted (IMHO) … well almost the best. As is the way of recipes there is always something that can be tweaked here and adjusted there to get it just that little bit more perfect and so year by year the recipe has evolved until now I believe it is ready to release to the world. This is being posted on Good Friday 2013, just in time for my avid followers to make a batch for Easter Sunday.
These buns are non-denominational and have never been crossed. I think anyone should be able to eat spiced buns with butter – lots of butter – whenever the urge comes upon them without fear of being struck down by the wrong god so I don’t call them hot cross buns, even if that is the tradition from which they have developed. They simply suit the time of year when the snow is finally melting and the snowdrops appearing to cheer us all up …. here is the recipe for …
The Breadzilla Bakery’s 21 year Spiced Spring Buns
(for easter bunnies)
Note: At Easter 2015 it transpired that this recipe was being used in kitchens on three continents … at which time I was informed of an egregious error in the recommended amount of spices to use. I blame a typo but whatever the reason it has now been “corrected”. The original recipe has also been halved as 24 large buns is perhaps too many for the average household – this will make a dozen but you can scale up or down as you wish.
- 1 lb strong white flour
- 1/2 lb wholemeal flour
- 4-5 oz mixed peel
- 5-6 oz currents
- 3oz sugar (for the glaze)
- 2oz butter
- 1/2 pint warm milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp mixed spice
- 3/4 tsp cloves
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- A “bit” of nutmeg – 20 turns of the grater does it for me, it’s probably about 1/4 tsp
- + just enough warm water to get the consistency right … it will be somewhat less than 1/4 pt. Precise volume depends so much on the flour you are using which, I learned the hard way, certainly varies from country to country.
The spice quantities are minimum amounts – adjust to suit your own preferences (taste is a personal thing and Mr and Mrs Breadzilla differ in how much is too much) but maintain the proportions
Putting it together:
Mix all the dry ingredients thoroughly
Melt the butter in warm milk and add to the dry ingredients with the yeast/water and the two cracked eggs
Mix and knead just as you would any yeast dough. The dough is supposed to be quite wet and it should almost stick to your hands but not too much – so it’s wetter than bread dough but not “wet”. Impossible to put this into words exactly but if you have baked with yeast before you will know when it is right.
Cover and set aside in a warm place to rise to about double volume. If your kitchen is well heated this will be fine but if you have one of those large chest-sized insulated cooler boxes that you take picnics in the car in and bring home the fresh-caught lake trout at the end of the day try putting the bowl of dough in that alongside a large jug of hot water … heat and humidity will speed the whole process. Just remember that this is a very rich dough and the yeast is having a hard job.
When the volume is just right, knead it some more and divide into 12 (or more, or less depending on how large you like your buns) pieces. Shape into balls and put on trays lined with baking parchment.
Put aside covered to rise some more … in a warm room for maybe 45 minutes.
Cook in an oven for approximately 20 minutes at 200degC (375degF) – a bit less if you have a fan oven.
Remove, glaze with a strong sugar solution and set aside on racks to cool
Split, eat slightly warm with as much butter as your conscience will permit accompanied by a “nice cup of tea” (Murchie’s Blend 22 is ideal) and then have another.
The buns freeze well for storage. Make more as necessary but always make them at this time of year.