Baking supplies might be a tad hard to come by right now, but it’s worth hunting them down because the legends over at North Street Store have done us a solid and shared one epic hot cross bun recipe with us.
It’s not the easiest recipe, but let’s be honest, what else are you doing this weekend? Plus, what good hot cross buns ever came from an easy recipe? We promise that it will be one of the most rewarding baking experiences ever.
- 687g strong bakers flour
- 28g milk powder, full fat
- 15g yeast, instant dry (multiply x 3 if using fresh yeast)
- 14g salt
- 96g butter
- 412g milk
- 56g eggs (1 standard egg is about 50g so get the XXL ones)
- 385g fruit (before soaking)
- 206g boiling tea (earl grey or English breakfast)
- 82g sugar
- 14g spice mix (you can use mixed spice or blend your own. Allspice is the dominant flavour in a traditional HCB, usually in combination with cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper and clove.)
- Start by soaking the fruit in the boiling tea overnight or at least until it’s fully cooled.
- To make the buns, warm up the milk, butter and eggs in a small saucepan until it’s tepid—about 40 deg C. Not hotter or you’ll kill the yeast. Mix together.
- Make the dough by mixing together all the dry ingredients and adding the liquid. Mix it into a shaggy mess and then clingfilm the bowl and let it rest for 20—30 mins. Then either knead by hand or by stand mixer until the dough is fully developed, shiny and not sticky. In a mixer it will take about 10 mins. Try not to add more flour during kneading. Note for nerdy bakers: desired dough temperature is 24 C.
Tip: if you’re kneading by hand, let time do some of the work for you. Alternate between kneading for 2 mins and resting the dough 10—15 minutes. It will come together by itself during the rests and you’ll have to do less work.
- Towards the end of the kneading, when the dough looks nearly done, drain the fruit and gently press out any extra moisture. Add the fruit and the spice mix to the dough and finish mixing gently so you don’t break all the fruit up or squash the moisture out.
- Put the dough in a bowl with clingfilm or a plastic bag or a tight fitting lid on top and let the dough rise in a warm place until it’s big and puffy, about 2—3 times in size. Alternatively, you can put it in the fridge to rise overnight.
- Tip the dough out onto a floured bench, dust the top with flour, and gently pat it into a flat rectangle. Mark it into 24 pieces then cut them out with a knife or a dough scraper. Each one should be about 90g—check with a scale if you want to. Being all the same size does help them bake evenly.
- Roll the portions into balls. Start by folding the outsides into the middle until it’s roughly round and then cup your hand over the dough ball and rotate your hand around with the base of your palm on the table. You’re trying to tension the skin using the resistance to the table so avoid too much flour—you need a bit of tack. There are lots of videos on YouTube about this so watch some for perfect buns.
- Once the buns are all rolled, put them on a flat baking tray lined with baking paper. They should be evenly spaced with about a centimetre between them. It’s important for crossing them that they are in straight lines.
- Cover them with a warm, damp, lightweight tea towel and put the buns on their tray into a plastic bag. They need to rise again (prove) before you can cross them and bake them.
- The time it takes to rise depends on the temperature but it will probably be between 1 and 2 hours. If you rose the dough overnight in the fridge and it’s still cold, they may take way longer. In any case, try to put them in a warm place, about 30 degrees C.
- When they are ready, they will be puffy, just touching, and grown about 75% bigger. They will get bigger in the oven.
- If you have more trays than you can bake at once, put the spares in the fridge before they are fully proofed as they will take some time to slow down and you don’t want to overproof them!
- While you are waiting, make the crossing paste. This is simply flour, water, salt and a drop of oil. Start with 100g flour, 1 tbsp oil (any kind that is not strong tasting), a pinch of salt and 50g water. Mix together and add more flour or water to get a thick but pipeable paste. Put it in a piping bag or a Ziplock with a snipped corner.
- You can also make the glaze in advance. There are many options here—anything sweet and wet is OK. Traditionally it’s just brown or white sugar and water, in equal parts, heated until the sugar dissolves. Vanilla is a popular addition to that but unnecessary in our opinion. Some use jam thinned down with boiling water.
- When the buns are ready to bake, pipe crosses on the top and put them into a preheated oven at 180 C with the fan on if you can choose. Drop a few ice cubes in the bottom of the oven or spray the walls of the oven (NOT the element or the lightbulb or the cover!) with water to make a bit of steam. This helps the buns to puff up fully and be shiny.
- Bake them 15 or so minutes until internal temp is 90 degrees and they are nicely browned. Take the tray out and glaze them straight away. We use a spray gun for this, but you can brush them with a paint or pastry brush if you are gentle and don’t squash them! They are very delicate when hot and wait until they cool a bit before you de-tray them.
Too hard? Here are Perth’s best hot cross buns to devour.
Image credit: Ben Tyers