Tom Herbert’s Hot Cross Buns
Tom Herbert, former ambassador of the Real Bread Campaign and Hobbs House Bakery, shares his recipe for buns.
I prefer a hot cross bun that is fresh from a bakery or freshly baked (NEVER one from the 12 for PS1 shelf in a supermarket!).
Most of the time, the dough can be rested for a few hours. Resting the dough gives them a better flavor and a lighter texture. They will keep for a few days in a cool, dry place. If you have some leftovers, share them or freeze them.
These are delicious with tea and can make a Good Friday memorable.
I like to use a traditional mix of spices in my buns. A mixture of cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg gives them a rich exotic aroma and flavor. I use a generous amount of sultanas, currants, and lemon zest to make these buns irresistible.
Firm white flour 680gbig pinch of sea salt.
30g fresh yeast or 15g dried active yeast (not instant).
I use active dried yeast at home. It’s easy to store and use (and doesn’t have all the extra stuff in fast-action yeast). The recipe requires 15g. Mix the yeast with warm milk and water using a fork to rehydrate. We use fresh traditional yeast in the bakery because it tastes better. Use 30g if you can find it in a local bakery.
It’s easy to pipe the crosses on, and I sometimes add a message when baking buns for a gift. The crosses are easy to pipe on, and I have even piped letters on top of the buns when baking them as gifts.
100g of strong white flour and a pinch or two of salt
A bit of sugar and a knob of butter with 100ml of water
Weigh the ingredients for the dough into a large mixing bowl.
Stir with a wooden spatula.
Then, turn the dough onto a table and knead it for 15 or 10 minutes in a mixer at medium speed.
Work the zest and fruit in gently. Place the dough you have worked into the large mixing bowl. Cover and let it rest in a warm area until it doubles in size or 30 minutes.
You can begin to make buns by cutting the dough in half. Then divide it again and again, ideally into 16 equal pieces.
Round the pieces in your palm so they are part and stand upright on a sizeable grease-proofed baking tray with high sides. Line them up 4X4 leaving a finger-width space between each bun. Cover the tin again and place it in a warm, toasty area until your buns double. This should take 30-40-50 mins. Heat your oven to about 210C.
Pour your cross-over mix into a piping syringe. Please, no lumps.
Cross your buns with a lattice that runs the entire length and width of the tin.
Bake the buns. When the tops and bottoms are golden, brush them immediately with a spicy bun wash.
Hot cross buns are best served warm, still smelling of spices, and slathered with butter, which will melt into the soft, moist crumb and drip down the crust. Enjoying them with a hot cup of tea will fill your home with an Easter aroma. It’s a massive reward for all your hard work and dedication and a nod to a beautiful baking tradition.
The hot cross buns are then split and toasted with excess butter.
It is taken from Tom and his brother Henry’s book Fabulous Baker Brothers, which accompanies the Channel 4 series of the same name.
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Suzanne Wynn’s hot cross buns
Your homemade hot cross buns will be better than anything you’ve ever purchased if you use first-class ingredients. Hand-cutting candied peels and grinding spices before use is much better than buying ready-made alternatives.
If you can, use organic stone ground wheat flour. It will give your buns a more distinctive flavor and texture. If you cannot find wholemeal, then mix the white stoneground flour with some stoneground wholemeal.
If you can’t find fresh yeast, buy the standard active dried version. Many instant alternatives (easy-blend, fast-acting, or quick-acting) include flour improvers. If you must use instant yeast, reduce the amount of dried to half.
It is important to note that you need to make the ferment a day ahead.
Mix the ferment between 12 and 18 hours before making the hot cross buns. The water should be heated until it feels warm to the touch. Stir in the yeast and heat the water until the mixture is smooth. This liquid is mixed into the flour. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and let it rise and fall in a cool area.
Mix the flour, sugar, and salt to make the dough. Pour the melted butter, the egg, and the milk onto the dry ingredients. Hand-stir the liquid, slowly adding some flour mixture. Add the fermented mixture to the center when it is no longer liquid. Mix until you have a homogenous mix. Absorption rates differ from one flour to another, so you may need to add additional water or flour to achieve the desired consistency.
The yeast will need some time to recover, so cover the dough for half an hour before you knead it. While the dough rests, you can cut the peel, and if you wish, pour some sweet sherry on the sultanas to plump them.
Spread the chopped peel over the dough and fold it in thirds. Spread the peel on the dough, then fold over the bottom third and top third. Give the dough another quarter turn, and then stretch it again. Repeat the folding and scatter the sultanas. Cover the dough with clingfilm and place it in a warm, airy cupboard until it has doubled.