Well its Easter weekend and obviously I couldn’t let it pass without making something typically Easter-ish! I last (and first) made these three years ago so today is the first time I have made them since. My husband has a strange dislike of sultanas and similar dried grape items for some unknown reason so I tend to avoid recipes with these in…but we’ll see how these go down!
I used the same recipe I used last time which is Paul Hollywood’s from the BBC website. It’s a relatively straightforward recipe although I’ll be the first to admit I’m never sure whether something is ‘proving’ or whether I’ve ‘kneaded’ it enough. They do say though that practice makes perfect!
So, on with the preparation!
For the buns
- 300ml/10fl oz whole milk
- 500g/1lb 2oz strong white flour
- 75g/2½oz caster sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 7g sachet fast-action yeast
- 50g/1¾oz butter
- 1 free-range egg, beaten
- 150g/5oz sultanas
- 80g/3oz mixed peel
- 1 apple, cored and chopped
- 2 oranges, zest only
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
For the cross
- 75g/2½oz plain flour
For the glaze
- 3 tbsp apricot jam
Ingredients at the ready (weighed, beaten, zested, peeled and chopped), the first job is to bring the milk to the boil. Once its done, take it off the heat and let it cool slightly until it reaches hand temperature – this didn’t take as long as I expected, say 5-10 minutes.
While the milk is cooling, mix the flour, sugar, salt, yeast, butter and egg together in a bowl. Then add the warmed milk a bit at a time until it forms a soft, sticky dough – I used a wooden spoon initially but then found it easier to use my hands! Once you have the dough, add the other ingredients and give it a really good mix together – again I did this by hand. I love the smell of cinnamon, not sure if it makes me think of Christmas or whether its just warming!
Next comes the kneading – as I said I’m never sure whether I am doing this part right – tip the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and knead by holding the dough with one hand and stretching it with the heal of the other hand, then folding it back on itself. Do this for five minutes or until its smooth and elastic. Sounds simple enough..! Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise for approximately one hour, or until doubled in size.
After an hour or so, take the dough and divide into 12 even pieces – now I can’t do this by guessing so I weighed it and divided it by 12 so I knew how much I needed! Lightly flour the work surface again and roll each piece into a smooth ball. Arrange the buns on a baking tray lined with parchment, making sure you leave space for them to touch when they rise and expand. When you have all 12, leave for another hour to prove.
After an hour, you can heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7 while you make the mixture for the crosses. Do this by mixing the flour with about five tablespoons of water in small bowl, adding the water one tablespoon at a time, so that you add just enough for a thick paste (I found I needed 6 tablespoons of water but you will know how much is enough). Get a piping bag and small nozzle and spoon the paste mixture in. Then you can add the crosses! The easiest way to do this is to go along the tray from right to left in one movement on each row, then up and down (or vice versa!)
When the oven is at the right temperature, put the buns in the oven(!) on the middle shelf for 20-25 minutes or until golden-brown. We have a fan oven and I think this temperature was slightly high (note the darker brown edges!) so I would go for 200C next time.
Just before the time is up, heat the apricot jam to melt then sieve to get rid of any chunks. Then when the buns are ready and the jam is still warm, remove from the oven and brush the jam over the top of the warm buns and leave to cool. Make sure you have enough jam – I just bought 1 small jar as a larger one would go to waste but could definitely have benefited from extra!
If you are like me and impatient, at least try to give them a few minutes before you slice one open and spread on butter…mmmm! The verdict from my husband – he wanted seconds!