richard bertinet hot cross buns

Hot cross bun recipe

By BBC Maestro

Packed with warm spiced fruit and topped with a sweet glaze, hot cross buns are a firm favourite for many baked-good lovers. 

And like all baked treats they taste their best when eaten fresh from the oven. Drooling yet? Take a look at this hot cross bun recipe from baker Richard Bertinet.

What is a hot cross bun?

Hot cross buns are a type of sweet, spiced bun that is typically eaten during the Easter period. They’re made from an egg and butter-based dough and contain some sort of dried fruit – like currents, raisins, or sultanas – as well as cinnamon or nutmeg. You can identify them by a pale cross on the bun’s top, which is usually made from a mixture of flour and water.

So why do we eat hot cross buns at Easter? These doughy treats are rooted in history. The origins of the hot cross bun are believed to date back to ancient pagan festivals, but they became associated with Christianity during the Middle Ages. It’s said that the first hot cross buns were made by a 14th-century monk in St Albans, England, who distributed them to the poor on Good Friday.

Today they’re a popular treat eaten throughout the year all over the world – with new ingredients making an appearance in different recipes all the time. Some common hot cross bun flavours today are toffee, salted caramel, orange and cranberry and apple and cinnamon. For Richard Bertinet, the traditional sugar and water glaze doesn’t quite cut it. That’s where spiced rum comes in… Ready to try it?

How to make hot cross buns

Ingredients

For the buns:

  • 475g strong bread flour
  • 15g fresh yeast
  • 65g butter
  • 225g full-fat milk
  • 10g sea salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 40g sugar
  • 80g mixed peel
  • 150g sultanas
  • 1/2 tablespoon mixed spice

For the roux:

  • 25g strong bread flour
  • 100g crème fraîche

For the egg wash:

  • 1 egg
  • pinch of sea salt

For the cross paste:

  • 50g flour
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • enough water to make a paste thick enough to pipe

 For the glaze:

  • 100g sugar
  • 100g water
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
Hot cross buns

Method:

1. To make the roux, put the crème fraîche into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the flour, remove from the heat and stir well. Leave to cool down completely.

2. If you’re using a mixer with a dough hook, place the milk, eggs and roux in the mixing bowl. Add the flour, yeast, sugar and salt and start to mix on slow speed for 4 minutes. Whilst the mixer is going, add in the softened butter, in four or five pieces. Turn the mixer to a medium-low speed and mix for a further 12-15 minutes.

If you’re using your hands, turn your dough onto a work surface and work the dough. To do this, place your fingers underneath it, swing it upwards and then slap it back down onto your work surface. Take the front of the dough and lift it back over itself, in an arc. Keep repeating this process, stretching it forward and sideways. You’ll find the dough becomes more elastic as it comes together. After about 15 minutes, it should be good to go.

3. Blend together the fruits and spice in a bowl. Add to the dough and mix on slow for a minute (or with your hands until the fruits are distributed). Remove the dough from the mixer bowl and shape into a ball. Cover the bowl with a baking cloth and rest in the bowl for about 45 min.

4. Then make the paste for the crosses by mixing the three ingredients in a bowl. It should be the thickness of pouring double cream. Place the paste into a piping bag.

5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide into 80g pieces and shape into rolls. Place the rolls onto a lined baking tray and let them prove for about 1 hour. Glaze with egg wash and then pipe with the cross paste. Pipe the rolls as a whole tray, rather than individual buns.

6. Bake the buns at 180ºC for about 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.

7. Boil the sugar and water for about 5 min until it has thickened a little. Add 2 good tablespoons of dark rum. Remove the buns from the oven and brush with the glaze.

How to serve hot cross buns

You can eat the buns straight from the oven or you can wait for them to cool down. It’s really up to you how you want to enjoy them.

Some people love them toasted and slathered in butter or spread with marmalade or jam. Others prefer them on their own or with something savoury, like cheese or even bacon and eggs. There really is no right or wrong, so get adventurous with how you serve them. That’s where the fun begins…

Ready to taste more?

Take a look at Richard Bertinet’s BBC Maestro course, where he teaches you how to make everything from herby focaccia and crunchy sourdough to stollen and mince pies.

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with baker, Richard Bertinet