Thursday, 28 March 2013

Hot Cross Buns

Reuben hopped in to bed with me the other morning after the Monkey Clock told him he was allowed to get up, and I decided it was time I explained Easter to him. You see, apart from it being probably the most important event to have happened in the history of the world, we have this whole "Easter" "Esther" problem to contend with. It has arisen (ha ha) a couple of times - we saw hot cross buns in the supermarket a while back, and when I said they're for Easter, I admit it did sound a lot like "they're for Esther."

So, you know, I gave him the run down. Told it straight, kept it simple. We talked about Jesus rising again so that we could go to Heaven. He knows all about Heaven. I think we'll leave sin for another year, and I dodged the whole cross thing. Well, I skimmed quickly over "the cross is a symbol of Jesus dying" and hoped he didn't say "what?" He didn't. I felt as though the cross had to be mentioned as I was planning on making hot cross buns. Other than that I think nails-in-to-hands is also a topic for another year (/decade). I must admit I've done more than enough talking about death with Reuben, and boy I wish Jesus wasn't the only one who could rise again. 

Easter Esther

Two years ago Reuben and I developed a wonderful habit of sitting down, always on the blue sofa, for a morning tea of hot cross buns. He LOVED them and it was a lovely tradition. I don't know how many weeks it lasted for, but I remember thinking "the supermarket won't be selling these forever, at this rate I'm going to have to start making them." I think we got through on bought ones, but last year I did have a go at making them a few times. I'm delighted that 'Bear and Lilly' requested on a recent post that I share my hot cross bun recipe, so they must have been good! I think they are, and I don't expect we'll be going to back to the supermarket for HCBs again.

In the spirit of soaking up new knowledge, and for the sake of your viewing pleasure, I decided that this time I would actually make the crosses and add a glaze. I confess I've never bothered doing this before. The glaze made them look, well, shinier, and they were a whole lot stickier. And the crosses felt right, given that this is Easter after all. It was awfully simple and now I know just one more little thing that I didn't know before - that crosses are simply made from flour and water.

"When I'm finished this one I'll have that one"

I use a bread machine to make my hot cross buns and use the bread machine's recipe for cinnamon raisin bread. I use the machine to mix the dough and then make them in to buns. If you want to do it all by hand you can do this of course, but I'm not an expert and can't give a lot of advice. In fact perhaps you can advise us! The recipe below is for a 2lb loaf recipe - use your machine with this in mind.

My crosses went fairly flat and wide, and I wonder if perhaps my paste was a little too wet. Again, if you have any thoughts on how to improve them I'd love to hear - I'm sure plenty of you know what you're talking about. I was surprised to read that the glaze goes on warm after the buns have been cooked.
A few more important things before you get started:

i. If you plan on coming round to our place over the next couple of days, make sure you get your pronunciation of Easter right, or we'll all just get confused.
ii. If you want to get a real explanation of Easter, have a read of this post by the brilliant Thalia on her site Sacraparental.
iii. Thank God for Easter. We will see Kent again.

Hot Cross Buns

1 cup warm water
1/8 cup milk
1 egg
1 1/2 tablespoons butter or oil
3 1/2 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar/glucose
1/2 cup raisins*
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dry yeast

*If your machine has an add in beeper, add the raisins later at the time indicated.

Set your machine to dough for the mixing and first stages of rising.
When finished, remove dough and shape in to small buns, keeping them fairly close together.
Leave to rise in a warm place for 40 minutes.

Mix 1/2 cup flour with 5 tablespoons of water. Place in to a snaplock bag and trim a small corner off the bag. Pipe crosses on to buns just before they go in to the oven.

Bake at  180 degrees for 15 mins.

Warm 1/3 cup water on the stove with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Stir constantly while bringing to the boil, and simmer for 5 minutes. Brush on to the buns while the glaze and buns are still warm.

If you wish to make these by hand, mix the ingredients together with a knife, and finish with your hands. Put on to a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. Place in to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and leave in a warm place for 1 - 1 1/2 hours until dough has doubled in size. Punch dough down to original size and knead until smooth. Shape in to buns and follow the instructions above. These tips come thanks to

PS - since writing I have made these again and found that a thicker paste makes the crosses really messy. The paste sort of blobs out of the hole instead of running. Do the full 5 tablespoons of water and let me know if you have any other ideas.


  1. Replies
    1. I concur.

      How cute is Easter Esther! I am now trying to think of something that is for Reuben but it's proving tricky.:)

      Happy Easter to you all. I shall be making Hot Cross Buns tomorrow after a late night out at Guns and Roses. Not sure those two things go hand in hand??? "Baking down in the Paradise City..." :)

    2. It is indeed an OUTRAGEOUS combination, but I am sure you will pull it off. How were your HCBs? (and how were GnR?!)

  2. Amen from me too :) My last attempt at hot cross buns produced something a lot more solid/compact but still edible with the help of a cup of coffee. I'm not a great fan of the flour-water paste, but agree that without them, they're not really true easter buns. In the absence of a bread maker (and arm muscles) I'll make the most of good quality bakery buns, but there is nothing quite like homemade ones and yours look rather yum! Maybe once the packet is finished, I can track down a bread maker and share the result with the owner ... any volunteers? :)

    1. Of course! If you're really keen you can borrow mine.

  3. Yay! I was just saying that we need some hot cross buns and thought I should check here for a recipe. I can't wait to make some! Thanks for sharing =0)

  4. Love your Easter Esther hot cross buns!
    I made my annual batch of hot cross buns yesterday using an old recipe from Marcelle Pilkington's 'Take Our Bread' cook book (adapted for the bread-maker of course). Her recipe for making crosses works well for me each time:
    2 T cornflour
    2 T white flour
    1/4 t baking powder
    pinch of salt
    2 T milk
    Mix together into a batter, add more milk to get the right consistency for piping, spoon into plastic bag, snip corner off to make hole about size of a matchstick and pipe onto buns to make crosses just before cooking.
    We still have some buns left today ... think I'll make another batch tomorrow as they were rather good :)

    1. Thanks Jude, I tried this on my THIRD batch! We seem to have been eating them fairly quickly though this last lot were for a dairy free friend of mine, so we didn't eat them all. I just did water instead of milk in your recipe above. The crosses stayed put a lot better though they were a rather luminescent white!

    2. Ha! I quite like the luminescent cross effect!!

    3. Maybe less cornflour = less whiteness?


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