My family has a peculiar tradition with hot cross buns. Sliced open, toasted and slathered with butter and vegemite. Fruity, salty, savoury, sweet. Not appealing to most tastes, but classic Easter food for the Bennetto clan. Poor ol' Matty, he's going to need a tastebud lobotomy once we tie the knot.
These buns are traditional, to a point. There's the dried fruit, mixed peel (yes, it's essential), spices and cross. The cross itself is where things get tricky. I know they're meant to be baked on, but I think a hint of extra sweetness can only serve to improve the situation. 'Specially when they're spread with a black, yeasty spread.
The cross is a quick mix of egg white, icing sugar and milk. So easy, but super runny. If you don't watch out, you'll have hot cross splodges and that ain't appropriate for Easter.
If you've never baked with yeast before, this is a great recipe to have a first go with. The keys to working with yeast are to make sure any heated liquids are not too hot. Sugar also helps to activate yeast. It feeds on sweet stuff and grows into a giant, gassy lump. Much like this good blogger. What a delightful mental image.
In order to get nice looking buns, the key is squats. I kid. Like I'd be offering advice on your squat technique. No, the key is fastidious measuring. Weigh the dough and divide by 16. It's tedious, but you'll have 16 equal, beautifully shaped buns. If you have a square shaped tin, all the better. Place them in 4x4 and piping your crosses will be easier.
My final hint is in the serving. Heat them by toasting them under the grill (or the gorilla, as my Dad calls it). Spread with smear of butter. You can stop there, but you haven't lived until you've at least had a try of Vegemite on top. Go on, just a taste. You won't regret it.
700g plain flour
60g caster sugar
14g dried yeast
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
100g mixed peel
finely grated rind of 1 mandarine
Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl along with the dried fruit, mandarine rind and mixed peel. Heat the milk and butter over a low heat until butter is melted. Allow to cool slightly (stirring it every so often helps to cool it quicker). Pour over the dry ingredients and add the egg.
Knead with a dough hook for around 5 minutes (by hand for approximately 10) until sticky and elastic. Leave to rest for around 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 220º and grease a baking sheet with butter. Measure out 16 balls of dough and allow to rest for another 45 minutes. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce oven to 200º and bake for a further 10.
Remove from oven and brush with glaze. Once completely cooled, pipe crosses over buns.
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp glucose
Stir ingredients together over low heat until sugar dissolves. Boil together for 2 minutes. Keep warm until ready to use.
1 egg white
1 cup icing sugar
1 tbsp milk
Beat all three ingredients on high in an electric mixer for around 5 minutes. Fill in a piping bag and pipe quickly over buns.