It was a sunny day outside, and it is nearly Easter. In the UK, this means hot cross buns are everywhere and in mind boggling varieties (chocolate hot cross buns anyone??).
True, in the UK you can get most of these any time of the year now. However, for me growing up in Nova Scotia, hot cross buns were only sold in shops in the lead up to Easter. They were only bought as a treat. Having this mentality ingrained in me, means I only ever eat them around now.
Last year I attempted my first batch of homemade hot cross buns, with some success. Although I managed to bungle the cross bit. This year I have tweaked my recipe to have my recipe for Earl Grey & Orange hot cross buns.
To start, I take a simple package of raisins and sultanas (with some mixed peel) and soak it in a small bowl of hot water (about ½ cup) and two bags of earl grey tea. Really this needs to soak for at least an hour or two.
Next, I boil some milk on the stove, which will help change the chemistry of the milk. When it is finished I toss in the butter and let the whole mixture cool. The cooled milk/butter gets mixed in with the flour, salt, sugar and an egg. The whole combination is kneaded, and frankly fairly wet for a dough. Stick this in an oiled bowl and let rise for an hour in a warm place.
Once the dough has risen it is time to fold in the cinnamon, orange peel and earl grey fruit. The dough will deflate a bit, but it is crucial to get a fairly even distribution of fruit and spice. After another rise (1 hour again), it gets divided into 16 pieces and a final rise.
In previous attempts I messed up the cross on the top. Essentially, it is a combination of flour and water. A little research online said it should be mixed until thick. Except I did this last time, and it didn’t really work. Instead I made it a bit more syrupy, and it worked like a charm.
After a short bake they are brushed with warm apricot jam, and ready to be gorged on. True to form, and perhaps the result of a year long abstention from the lovely goods, we’re already devoured after a bit of toasting and slavering of butter. The Earl Grey & Orange hot cross buns have a warming mix of bergamot, orange and cinnamon, and are moreish morning treat. Yes, they look a bit rough, but as with every Easter I’m know they won’t make it past 9am tomorrow!
Earl Grey & Orange hot cross buns
- 300 ml milk
- 50 g butter
- 500 g strong white or all purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 75 g caster/white sugar
- 7 g fast action yeast
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- 125 g sultanas/raisins and mixed peel combo
- zest of 1 orange
- 3 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 Earl grey tea bags
- 125 ml boiling water
- 2-3 Tbsp of smooth apricot jam
- 4-5 tbsp of flour
- Combine the water, tea and sultana mix and let stand for 1-2 hours.
- Combine the flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Mix and set aside.
- Heat the milk until it boils, toss in the butter and cool until you can comfortably put your finger into it. Then pour this into flour along with a beaten egg.
- Knead this rather wet dough and place into an oiled bowl, let rise for 1 hour.
- Carefully drain the sultanas, and mix this along with the orange peel and cinnamon into the dough. After a good distribution, let rise again.
- After an hour divide into 15-16 pieces and arrange on a baking tray. Turn on your oven to 220C (200C if a convection/fan oven). Let the pieces rise for a further hour.
- Mix the 4-5 tbsp of flour with water until smooth like syrup. Use this to create the classic crosses on top. Then place into the pre-heated oven.
- Heat the jam so it is runny, and when the buns have a good light brown colour take out and brush with the jam. Cool on a rack and then devour!