Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Paul Hollywood's Hot Cross Buns

So, it's Easter. Or at least it was, but I was in Norwich over the weekend and only made these yesterday. And then I was too busy to write this up yesterday. Anyway I'm almost sure you can buy these all year round, so now you can make them all year round too.

Look at that - soft, slightly spiced, packed with fruit and glazed with sticky apricot jam. This is a very special recipe from the George Clooney of baking, the lovely Paul Hollywood. However, I also find it quite a tricky recipe. I had a lot of problems with getting my hot cross bun dough to rise last year, and this year I had the same problem again.

I'm not entirely sure what caused this problem either time, but if it happens to you, the main thing is not to panic. More than once I've angrily thrown unrisen dough into the food bin of an evening, only to find it's risen beautifully in the morning (probably helped along its way by the heat generated by decomposing vegetable peelings).

If your dough doesn't rise, turn it over, you may find that gluten strands have started to develop at the bottom of the dough, which means that the rising process is starting but it's just happening a bit slowly. Give it a squeeze - if it feels spongy and some air squidges out then your dough isn't irrecoverable. Try kneading your dough again and leaving it to rise again - I did this and mine rose beautifully.

To try and avoid problems with your dough rising, I'd advise you to knead it in a standing mixer with the dough hook attachment on a medium speed. If you don't have such fancy gadgets then just knead it good and proper and make sure you leave it to rise in a warm place. I usually use the airing cupboard.

This recipe will make 15 buns. I halved it and made 8. If you have trouble with any of the steps in this recipe then Paul is here to help. Check out this video of him teaching Mary how to make hot cross buns.

You will need:

For the buns:
300ml milk
50g butter
500g strong bread flour
1 tsp salt
75g caster sugar
7g sachet fast-action or easy-bake yeast
1 beaten egg
75g sultanas (raisins will also do)
50g mixed peel
zest 1 orange
1 finely chopped apple
1 tsp ground cinnamon

For the cross:
75g plain flour , plus extra for dusting
one piping bag or icing syringe

For the glaze:
3 tbsp apricot jam

1. Bring the milk to the boil, then take it off the heat and add the butter. Set aside and leave until lukewarm. Meanwhile put the flour, sugar, cinnamon, yeast and salt in a mixing bowl, being careful to put the yeast and salt on opposite sides of the bowl.

2. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the milk and butter then add the egg. Stir with a wooden spoon until it starts to come together, then get your hands in there and bring it all together until you have a sticky dough.
3. Tip onto a floured surface and knead well for 5 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Pop in an oiled bowl and cover with oiled cling film (oiled on the underside OBVIOUSLY - or it'll be messy when you try to get it out) and leave to rise for 1 to 2 hours or until doubled in size.
4. When the dough has risen, knock it back and knead in the mixed peel, orange zest, apple and sultanas. Put back in the oiled bowl, re-cover and leave to rise again, this time for an hour.
5. When the dough has risen, split it into 15 equal pieces. Roll them into balls (Paul shows you how in the video) and place on the baking tray close enough so that they will touch when risen. This is what makes the lovely torn soft edges on the bun. Leave to rise for an hour, and while they are rising preheat the oven to 200C (Paul says 220C but I found that too hot). 
6. When the buns have risen, mix the flour for the crosses with 5 tbsp water, adding the water a tbsp at a time as you may not have to use all of it. You're looking for the mixture to just hold its shape but still be runny enough to pipe. When it does this, spoon it into your piping bag or syringe and slowly pipe a line across each row of buns, following the curve of each bun carefully. Then pipe lines perpendicular to the first ones, until each bun has a cross on top. 
7. Bake for 20 minutes on the middle shelf of the oven until golden brown. Meanwhile, heat the apricot jam on the hob until melted, then sieve to remove any lumps. When the buns come out of the oven, glaze them straight away, using a pastry brush.
 And there are your hot cross buns, done! Let them cool briefly and then slice them open and spread with butter. And devour.

If you don't want to glaze with apricot jam then honey, golden syrup or a sugar syrup could be used. The apple is Paul's addition so feel free to leave it out if you don't fancy it. And feel free to experiment with spices too - nutmeg might make a nice addition.



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