Hot Cross Buns
It's hard to believe the difference in home-made hot cross buns – they really are far better than any bought from a shop and a lot cheaper into the bargain! But easy-blend dried yeast is not suitable for this recipe. If you want to make more distinctive crosses, use a flour-and-water paste made with 4 oz (110 g) plain flour and approximately 3 tablespoons water. Roll out thinly and divide into small strips, dampening them to seal.
Makes about 12
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This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course, Delia Smith's Complete Illustrated Cookery Course and Delia Smith's Winter Collection. It has also appeared in Sainsbury's Magazine (April 1995).
First stir the teaspoon of caster sugar into 5 fl oz (150 ml) hand-hot water, then sprinkle in the dried yeast and leave it until a good frothy 'beer' head forms.
Meanwhile sift the flour, salt and mixed spice into a mixing bowl and add the remaining 2 oz (50 g) of sugar, the currants and mixed peel. Then make a well in the centre, pour in the yeast mixture plus 1½ fl oz (40 ml) of milk (again hand-hot), the beaten egg and the melted butter.
Now mix it to a dough, starting with a wooden spoon and finishing with your hands (add a spot more milk if it needs it).
Then transfer the dough on to a clean surface and knead it until it feels smooth and elastic – about 6 minutes.
Now pop it back into the bowl, cover the bowl with a lightly oiled plastic bag, and leave it in a warm place to rise – it will take about an hour to double its original size. Then turn it out and knead it again, back down to its original size.
Divide the mixture into 12 round portions, arrange them on the greased baking sheet (allowing plenty of room for expansion), and make a deep cross on each one with a sharp knife. Leave them to rise once more, covering again with the oiled polythene bag, for about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile pre-heat the oven to gas mark 7, 425°F (220°C).
Toe make the crosses, form a paste with 2 oz/50 g flour and 1½-2 tablespoons water, then roll this out and cut into ¼ inch (5 mm) strips. When the buns have risen, brush the strips with water to make them stick and place them on top of the buns along the indentations you made earlier. Then place the baking sheet on a high shelf in the oven and bake them for about 15 minutes.
While they are cooking, make the glaze by slowly melting together the sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a pan over a gentle heat until all the sugar grains have dissolved and you have a clear syrup.
As soon as the buns come out of the oven, brush them immediately with the glaze while they are still warm. If you want to make them ahead of time, it’s quite nice just to warm them through again in the oven before eating.
If you want to freeze them, they do freeze well – just remember to put on the glaze after defrosting and then warm the buns through in the oven.
Also don’t forget that stale leftover buns are brilliant toasted.
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These are so good we reckon you won't want to restrict them to Easter eating: moreishly spicy, packed with dried fruit and with a freshness, softness and flavour that puts bought hot cross buns in the shade every time.
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