Easter is nearly here.  My favourite pseudo-Christian holiday, because it’s much less stressful than Christmas but still involves lots of good food.  Last year, as I headed off travelling round South East Asia, my mum tucked a bag full of Easter eggs and sweets in my backpack, to be opened on Easter Sunday.  I ate them in the morning in a hostel in Tokyo, one of the weirder experiences of the trip.  Sadly, hot cross buns don’t really keep so I didn’t get one of those, but they are definitely one of the things I love most about Easter, so this year I tried my hand at making my own. It did take a while, because you have to prove them, but well worth it.

Hot Cross buns (Felicity Cloake’s ‘perfect’ recipe)

200ml milk, plus a little more for glazing
3 cardamom pods, bruised
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves
Pinch of saffron
20g yeast
50g golden caster sugar, plus extra to glaze
450g strong white flour
100g butter
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground ginger
3 eggs
150g currants
50g mixed peel
3 tbsp plain flour

Infuse the milk with the cardamon, cinnamon, cloves and saffron, for an hour.  Sieve, then mix in the yeast and a tablespoon of sugar and leave to rise (about 15 mins).  Put the flour into another bowl and grate the butter into it, then rub in.  Add the ginger, sugar and salt.  Make a well in the middle and add in the milk-yeast mix, then add two eggs, beaten.  It should make a sticky dough, which you should knead for 10 minutes before putting aside to prove for 2 hours (mine were ready after 1, so keep an eye on it).  Push out onto a floured surface and add the fruit, kneading for a bit to make sure it all spreads out.  Seperate into small balls, cover and put aside to double in size.  Mix together flour and water to make a paste.  Egg wash the buns then pipe (or teaspoon) crosses onto them (this is much more difficult than you think!  Don’t worry if they look like they were put on by a child).  Bake for 20 mins at gas 6/200 degrees c.  Whilst they’re cooking, mix 1 tbspoon boiling water with 1 tbspoon of caster suager to make a glaze.  Brush the glaze onto the buns with a pastry brush as they come out of the oven.

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