Hot cross buns are a joy to make. They dress you in a pinny, cover you in flour, and make you instantly loved by everybody. Bring out a towering plate of warm sticky buns on Easter morning and you're anyone's.
Cut in half, spread through a little (or a lot of) salted butter and melt into marmalade goodness.
MARMALADE HOT CROSS BUNS
makes about 16
700g strong white bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp mixed spice or a combination of ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon.
zest of 1 large orange
7g easy bake/fast-action yeast
1 duck egg (or 1 large hen egg), beaten
300ml milk, warm
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp water
2 tbsps thin cut marmalade for glazing
Sieve the flour, salt, and spices into a large bowl. Make a well for the sugar, and add the zest and yeast. Pour in the egg and the tepid milk and mix, leaving to sit for a few minutes to activate the yeast.
Now, using your hands or a wooden spoon, fold the flour into the wet well, mixing to make a soft dough. If too wet and sticky add a little flour; if too dry add tepid milk a little at a time. Knead for roughly 5 minutes, pulling the dough away from you and pushing it with your palms and knuckles.
Oil and lightly flour the bowl. Sit the dough in the bowl, cover with a tea towel and place in a warm spot for an hour to prove.
Set the oven to the hottest it will go (roughly 240C).
Knock the air out of the dough on a floured surface, knead briefly, and set aside again to prove for 30 minutes or so.
Then, divide the dough into equal amounts (a small handful) and shape into balls. Lay into lines in a large roasting tin, leaving a three-finger sized gap between each bit of dough. Rest for 20 minutes, covered.
Mix 1 tbsp flour with 1 tbsp water. It should stretch nicely over the buns to form a cross. Do this after the dough has rested and place in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes until brown.
Remove onto a wire rack and glaze with the marmalade whilst still warm. Cut in half, toast again and smother with good butter. You may weep.