With Easter only a few weeks away, it seemed like a good idea to start to perfect Jim’s ‘Hot Cross Bun recipe’. Hot cross buns are eaten at Easter in the UK and have the Christian cross applied to the top of them. This spiced and candied bread, can be eaten warm from the oven with butter or kept for up to 3 days and then, toasted before eating.
300ml full fat milk
500g strong bread flour
1 tsp salt
75g caster sugar
1 tbsp sunflower oil
7g sachet fast-action or easy-blend yeast
1 egg , beaten
50g mixed peel
2 tbsp mixed Spice
75g plain flour , plus extra for dusting
3 tbsp apricot jam or marmalade.
1. Heat the 300ml of milk to just below the boil and add the butter, stir until melted then, set aside to cool, to around body temperature.
2. Place the bread flour, caster sugar, salt, fast action yeast into a bowl and mix together. Note: If using regular dried yeast activate this with water as usual but remember to remove some of your milk to account for the extra liquid.
3. Create a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour the milk and butter then, add a beaten egg. Moving a mixing spoon around the side of the bowl turn the dried ingredients into the wet to create a very sticky dough.
4. On a lightly floured surface knead the sticky dough for around 10 minutes until it is elastic and smooth. Use the technique of one hand pushing away from the other using the heal of your palm and then, folding the dough back in.
Technique tip: A good yard stick of your progress is the window test. Take a small piece of dough and gently stretch it out, if your dough is ready you will be able to almost see through it before it breaks
Once you’re happy with your dough place in an oiled bowl and cover with lightly oiled clingfilm to stop it crusting over. Leave somewhere warm to prove for around an hour or until it has double in size.
5. Add your sultanas, mixed peel and mixed spice to the dough still in the bowl and turn into the dough. Lift this all out onto a floured surface and ensure your fruit and spice is evenly distributed into the dough as you knead it. This will knock the dough back, let it rise once more to around double its size once again covered to avoid your dough skinning over. This double prove will give your dough much more strength whilst the yeast fights not only the salt but the spices and fruit you’ve added to the dough.
6. Knock your dough back once more and divide into buns, you should get around 16, these should be spread across two trays. Roll them up into buns on a floured surface, place on the tray, loosely cover with clingfilm again and allow to double in size.
7. Preheat your oven to 190oc or just under gas mark
8. Whilst your oven comes up prepare your crossing paste, take around 70g of plain flour and gradually add small amounts of water until you get a pipable consistency. Into a piping bag, snip the end then, add crosses onto your fully proved hot cross buns.
9. Bake the hot cross buns for around 18 minutes.
10. Take your jam or marmalade (shredless) and heat it with a tbsp of water in your microwave until it is the right consistency. Another alternative to this method of glaze is to make a sugar glaze, simply dissolve two parts sugar into one part boiling water.
11. Once the buns are out of the oven brush this over them for your glaze.
Jim Whittam is head baker and the manager of The Haselmere which is a bakery, tea shop and deli, located in Grange-over-sands, Cumbria, UK. He also happens to be Louise’s cousin. During lockdown in 2021 Louise and Jim decided to start to draft and test recipes together, Jim uses his expert baking knowledge to write the recipes and Louise tests them in her kitchen in Basel, Switzerland. The successful recipes are being shared here on the Things to do in Basel blog.
They hope one day to compile a Cumbrian cook book that shares the recipes of their childhoods, recipes they wish to hand down to the next generation of Cumbrians and to the thousands of people who enthusiastically visit Cumbria each year, to enjoy the lakes and mountains and the great local, food and drink.
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Lots of Love,