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How To make Hot Cross Buns

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Home-made baking tastes the best, I always say. It is worth putting in the work to reap the benefits. With Easter fast approaching, what better bun to make than these tasty, spicy, Hot Cross Buns. Great for breakfast and a tea-time treat. The kids could help out too.
What you'll need: 
475g (15oz) strong white bread flour
1 x 7g packet of easy-bake yeast
1 tsp caster sugar, plus an extra 50g (2oz)
250ml (8fl oz) lukewarm milk
1/2 tsp salt, 4 tbsp plain flour
50g (2 oz) butter, cut into small pieces
2 tbsp mixed spice
150g (5 oz) dried fruit
1 egg, beaten
For the glaze, 1 tbsp caster sugar and 1 tbsp milk
First make a yeast sponge by mixing 100g (3 1/2 oz) of the bread flour with the yeast and 1 tsp of caster sugar in a bowl, then beat in the milk. Cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes, until the mixture has risen and looks bubbly.
Meanwhile, tip the remaining bread flour into a large bowl with the salt and butter. Rub the butter into the flour. Stir in the mixed spice, the 50g of caster sugar and the dried fruit. Pour the egg into the yeast sponge, then stir this into the flour and fruit mixture to make a dough. The dough should be soft and light, not too dry or sticky, so adjust with a little flour or water if necessary.
Tip the dough onto a lighly floured surface and knead for 5-8 minutes, dusting the work surface with more flour, if needed. Put the dough back in the bowl, (cleaned and slightly oiled), cover and leave in a warm place for an hour or so, until risen to about twice the original size.
Take the dough from the bowl and knead briefly. Cut the dough into 10 equal pieces. Take one piece, leaving the rest loosely covered with clingfilm, and shape into a round by pinching in the middle. Turn it over so the smooth side is on top. Then repeat with the remaining dough pieces.
Lay the buns on 2 lightly buttered baking trays, spaced apart so that they have room to rise. Cover loosely and leave to rise again for about an hour or so, until they have risen at least half again and feel light and puffy when gently touched.
Pre-heat the oven to Gas 6, 200c. Meanwhile, prepare the mix for the crosses. Make a small greaseproof paper piping bag, or snip a small bit off a corner of a small plastic food bag. Mix the 4 tbsp plain flour with 3 tbsp plus 1 tsp of water to make a thick, smooth paste. When the buns have risen, spoon the paste into the piping bag and pipe crosses over each bun. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown and sound hollow when tapped underneath.
For the glaze, mix together 1 tbsp of caster sugar and 1 tbsp of milk. Remove the buns from the tray and trim off any excess piping mixture from the bottom of each bun. Put them back on a cooling rack and brush with the sugar glaze while they are still warm. Serve warm and buttered.
There is a lot of 'waiting' and 'rising' in this recipe but it is well worth the effort. Just the smell from the oven, while baking, will bring a smile to your face and a rumble in your tummy, Enjoy!


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