The sun has been shining more recently - I bought new sunglasses, I've been out without a coat, and I've even been (slowly) starting to swap all my winter comfort foods for healthier salads and fruits. Then Easter came and dreams of summer became dreams of chocolate, sweets and sticky hot cross buns.
This was my first Easter without my family and sans the piles of eggs usually filing the cupboards, I opted for a more mature holiday treat in the form of these booze filled hot cross buns (the fruit makes them at least a little healthy, right?).
For the buns:
550g strong white flour
50g caster sugar
2tsp ground cinnamon
Zest of one orange
1 1/2 tsp fast acting yeast
300ml of milk
25g mixed peel
Dark spiced rum
For the cross:
100g strong white flour
For the glaze:
Dark spiced rum (you can use the same rum you soaked the raisins in)
4tbsp apricot jam
Before you start baking, fill a small jar with rum and add in the sultanas. Leave them somewhere to soak for at least a couple of hours, if you have time to leave them overnight or a couple of days then that would be better. I used spiced rum because I thought it would compliment the spices and fruits of the buns but you could use whatever alcohol is your favourite, or skip this step altogether for a more family friendly snack.
To make the bread, start by rubbing together the flour and butter with your fingers until the texture is similar to breadcrumbs before adding the rest of the dry ingredients (cinnamon, salt, sugar and yeast). Gently stir in the egg and milk until you have a soft dough.
Drain the sultanas (setting aside the rum for later) and then work the mixed peel, orange zest and sultanas into the dough by kneading on a lightly floured surface for five to ten minutes. Put the dough back in the bowl, cover with a towel or some oiled cling film and leave somewhere warm for about an hour while you relax and eat some chocolate eggs.
Knead the dough again to knock out any air and then cut into twelve pieces (I like to weigh them out to get them equal in size but this isn't essential). To get them into balls you're supposed to cup your hands and roll them, pushing gently on the countertop - its not a process I've exactly mastered and my buns still had a lot of dents before going in the oven so if anyone has any other tips for this step please let me know!
Place the balls of dough onto a greased tray, cover and leave to rise for another half hour. Prepare the cross by stirring together the flour and water to make a smooth paste and leave to strengthen while the dough rises.
Using a small nozzle, pipe a cross onto each bun then bake at 200 degrees for around 15 minutes.
To make the glaze, heat the jam in a saucepan and slowly stir in the rum until you have a smooth mixture (if there are a lot of large lumps in the jam you may want to sieve or blend it first). Brush over the buns and then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
They're best served toasted with a large cup of tea. Happy Easter blogosphere!