HOT CROSS BUNS
It is almost Easter and so last weekend I made these delicious buns using my grandmother’s recipe. Made by my mother before me as well, it is the base recipe for my saffron and yeast buns too. At Easter time I add and adjust it to fit the occasion! But our forebears knew what they were doing and this recipe never fails and is perfect. I know it uses lard, which is not particularly pc these days and I have tried it with all butter but it is not the same. I stick with the tried and true version! Trust me!
This amount makes about 32 or 33 [depending on your chosen size]. I always use scales with a flat plate on it, to weigh each bun before shaping. They freeze perfectly, if you are going to this trouble then make a large batch for over the holidays. Freeze immediately they are cold.
In a large bowl place:
2lbs strong bread flour
1½ teaspoons of mixed spice [more if you wish]
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
4 oz each of room temp lard and butter
Rub in the fats until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Then add:
12 oz dried mixed fruit
8 oz golden caster sugar [I use this a fair bit these days, but the original recipe was ordinary caster sugar]
the zest of a large orange
4 teaspoons of Allinson Easy Bake yeast [or similar]. Please use a proper measure for accuracy.
Bring the whole together with a scant pint of tepid water and a little milk mix [19 fl oz in total]. Transfer to a floured work surface and knead until smooth. About 5 mins or so.
Place the mix back into the bowl and cover with cling film and a clean tea towel then put to rise in a warm place until at least double in size. A good hour or more, depending on the room temp. It was chilly last Saturday and it took almost 2 hours to rise.
Back to the work top and knock back the dough. Then place a plate on your scales to cut and weigh the buns. These were 2¼ oz each. Shape the buns, turning the ends underneath and place on lightly greased baking sheets.
Put to rise once more [in a large poly bag if you can - I use pedal bin liners]. About ¾ hour or so. Preheat your fan oven to 190C
Meanwhile mix 3 tablespoons of plain flour with 3 tablespoons of cold water along with a dessert spoon of icing sugar. Prepare an icing bag with a small nozzle. Place crosses on your buns then bake for about 25 mins.
Prepare a glaze, warming 2 or 3 tablespoons of golden syrup or runny honey. When the buns come out of the oven brush the glaze over the buns while they are still very hot.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool! But eating one while they are still warm is heavenly!