Not so heavenly? My first two tries with this recipe. I made the buns on Monday and I remember thinking the dough was taking an awfully long time to prove. I decided to stick them in the fridge and finish baking them the following day, but the buns were dense and heavy – almost inedible. Rather than question why my recipe failed, I decided to make them again – another flop! Turns out my big fat failures had nothing to do with the recipe and everything to do with the yeast which was nearly out of date. Rookie mistake – always check the date of yeast and baking powder/soda as they can make or break an otherwise foolproof recipe.
Third time, with a new packet or yeast, I was rewarded with the hot cross cinnamon buns of my dreams… soft, fragrant, delicious and totally irresistible. The entire batch disappeared so quickly I am very tempted to make them again today. Do not feel daunted by length or the recipe and amount of ingredients – this dough is very forgiving and easy to work with and you can make it by hand, in a stand mixer or in a bread machine. If your room is quite cold when proving the dough, you might want to leave it for up to 2 hours to slowly rise. If you are in a hurry, put the dough, covered with a plastic bag, in the (turned off) oven with a bowl of boiling water; the steam will help the dough rise in about an hour. This is not recommended if your oven is need of a clean by the way.
Hot Cross Cinnamon Buns
- 500 g | 1.1 lbs | 4 cups white bread flour + more for dusting & rolling
- 200 ml | 6.7 fl oz scant cup whole milk + 2 tbsp fresh orange juice
- 100 g | 3.5oz soft light brown sugar
- 75 g | 2.6oz unsalted butter
- 3 medium eggs lightly beaten
- 2 tsp dry active yeast 1 packet
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom or mixed spice
- 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
- 100 g | 1/2 cup raisins or currants
- 75 g | 2.6oz mixed peel
- 100 g | 3.5oz unsalted butter melted
- 100 g | 3.5oz soft light brown sugar more if needed
- a few tablespoons ground cinnamon as needed
- 1 egg beaten with 2 tsp milk or cream to glaze
- 60 g | 2oz icing sugar sifted
- 1/2 tbsp milk or more if needed
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Put the milk and butter in a small saucepan and heat gently until the butter is just melted. Set aside to cool until barely warm. Stir in the orange juice, vanilla extract, zest and eggs.
- Put the flour, sugar, yeast, salt and spices in the bowl of your stand mixer and mix together briefly. Add the liquid ingredients and mix on medium-low speed using the dough hook for 7-10 minutes. Alternatively knead by hand for about 15 minutes until the dough is no longer sticky and forms a glossy ball.
- eave the dough in the mixing bowl, (or put a large, lightly greased bowl) cover, and leave for 1-2 hours or until nearly double in size.
- Tip your dough onto a lightly floured worktop and press lightly to deflate. Add the raisins and mixed peel and knead them in. The dough should be on the sticky side – resist the urge to add more flour unless it is too sticky to work with.
- Dust your rolling pin with flour then roll the dough out into a rectangle shape.
- Liberally brush melted butter on the dough then sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon leaving a small border all around. Press the filling lightly onto the dough with the palms of your hands. The filling should be slightly moistened by the butter - do not add too much otherwise the buns will unravel as they bake.
- Roll the dough, starting from the long side, into a roll. Brush the underside with melted butter as you roll so that it sticks to the filling.
- Trim the edges. Cut into 9 even pieces using a pastry cutter. Place the buns on a heavy tray lined with greased baking paper, spacing them slightly apart. Cover with a plastic bag and let them rise for an hour.
- Preheat your over to 180C/350F. Brush the buns with the egg wash and bake for about 30 minutes. If your buns are colouring too rapidly, tent with some foil after 20 minutes.
- Leave the buns to cool for 10 minutes. Mix the icing sugar, milk and vanilla extract until you have a thick but pourable glaze then drizzle or pipe a cross shape over the buns.