Hot Cross Buns

by mutteringhousewife

I’ve waited until February to make them. Yes, it is very distressing to see them in the shops before Australia Day. I like having a bit of usually pointless seasonal rhythm to my baking. Fruit cake at Christmas. Hot cross buns in Ent. Curse you iPad autocorrect. Lent. An Ent wouldn’t eat a hot cross bun. Actually, that’s it really, everything else I make year round.

This is one of those just bung all the ingredients together recipes. I’m pretty sure it’s a Donna Hay one, and I haven’t even played with it at all, it’s good as is.

I sometimes think I should start a YouTube channel for a real cooking show. There’s a gaping niche there. Today it would go like this. Search for metal bowl, not the one with the rubber bottom because we want to put it in the oven. Realise it’s in the fridge and it’s full of chicken stock. Rummage in the pantry for the Glad mini zip locks I decant half cups of chicken stock into to put in the freezer. Discover three empty boxes. Toss these in recycling. Realise recycling is full and take out same. Etcetera. That’s how real people cook, nobody ever has everything all lined up in glass bowls before they start.

Anyway, once you’ve washed your metal bowl until it doesn’t smell of chicken stock any more, place in it the following ingredients. Twenty grams of fresh yeast and a cup and a half of milk. Get in there with your fingers and squish the yeast until it has dissolved into the milk. Go wash your hands. Now add the rest. Four and a quarter cups of flour (sounds a little fussy, I grant you, you could definitely use four cups, then add the rest when you’re kneading), two teaspoons of mixed spice, two teaspoons of cinnamon, an egg, a cup of sultanas, half a cup of currants and fifty grams of melted butter. Mash all that together until you have a sticky heterogeneous lump, then dump it onto a flour covered workbench. Dust it with a good handful of flour and start kneading. The recipe suggests to keep going for eight minutes, but not even I’m anal enough to time myself and besides, I did a pump class this morning. You knead it until the dough feels smooth in between the fruit, but still a little sticky. It will have sucked up a bit of flour by then.

Wash the mixing bowl and tip a little oil into it. Wipe it around and place the dough back into it, you can now leave it to its thoughts if you have all day, or if it’s hot, but I don’t and it isn’t, so it’s going in the oven with just the light on. Wait until it has doubled in bulk, then get out that roasting pan that I seem to make everything, or a jelly roll tin if you have such a thing and line it with baking paper. Divide the dough in half, then in half again. Take one quarter and stretch it out so it’s like a very fat sausage. Divide that in three and shape each bit so it’s round and place it in the tin. Repeat until you have twelve buns. Cover it with a cloth, and back under the light. After about an hour they should have risen to be all squashed together.

Take a mini zip lock bag and place in it one third of a cup of flour and a quarter of a cup of water. Mix it around until it has combined, then seal the bag. Snip off a tiny corner, about half a centimetre. Squeeze lines of flour paste across the buns to form crosses. Or any pattern you like really. They spread out, so don’t get too fancy.

Bake them for about forty minutes at one hundred and eighty degrees. As soon as they come out of the oven brush them liberally with sugar syrup. You make sugar syrup by putting a quarter of a cup of sugar in a tiny saucepan with about an eighth of a cup of water and heating until the sugar dissolves. You don’t really have to do this, but it does make them very shiny.

Yes I know my crosses suck. Let this be a lesson to you, children, don’t let your mind wander when making the flour paste. Also, if you drop some on your toes you’ll notice a bit later when you’re picking the kids up from school that it looks as if your pedicure has gone mouldy.