Those aren’t hot cross buns, those are pom pom chicks, as mentioned previously, and are far cuter than my hot cross buns so get pride of place. I’ve tried making hot cross buns in years gone by but they’ve always turned out fairly solid and not worth the effort. This is a Paul Hollywood recipe though and since he hasn’t failed me yet I thought I’d give it another go.
The recipe is from his How to Bake book but a similar one is on the BBC website here. You start with strong white flour, yeast, sugar, salt, butter and egg, then add the liquid (half milk, half water in my recipe, all milk in the link). You do need to add most of the liquid, even if it looks too wet, this is always Hollywood’s way and seems to be the secret to a nice soft bun. Then knead and leave to rest for an hour or so.
The filling includes a chopped apple as well as the standard sultanas and peel. Knead this in and leave to rest for another hour before shaping.
The shaping step was where I started to get a bit bored of making hot cross buns. So I didn’t really divide the dough up carefully enough or shape it properly and they were markedly wonky. After leaving them another hour, covered in cling film, it was time to pipe the crosses. Given that this is the raison d’être of hot cross buns I really should have worked on this. But my first lot of paste was too thick and the corner I’d snipped off a plastic bag was too big and it came out in a big blob. Cursing ensued. My second batch of paste was thinner, I snipped off a neater corner and that seemed to work. Was too late by then though!
They went in a hot oven for 20 mins and turned out, well, they turned out like this. A bit of apricot jam glaze has helped things at this point.
Looks aren’t everything though, these taste delicious, they’re fluffy and full of fruit. They toast well too. We’ve had them for breakfast every day since Friday. So, with a bit more patience, less swearing and a steadier hand I might have just about been convinced that hot cross buns are worth making at home. Legend has it they never go mouldy if you make them on Good Friday too so that’s handy.