There's nothing better than having a warm, fresh-from-the-oven hot cross bun. The smell that comes from the oven is unmistakable and they're a favourite easter tradition for our whanau.
They take a little bit of time to put together, but you are rewarded well for your efforts. Home made hot cross buns are another level, you won't go back to the preservative packed supermarket ones ever again.
We've put together a simple step-by-step recipe to bake the perfect batch this year. You can even make them the day before, and slice them in half and pop them in your toaster for a hassle free Easter morning. Or make a double batch and freeze the other half to eat easter weekend.
1 1/2 cups sultanas
1-2 oranges (zest and juice)
3 teaspoons instant or rapid rise yeast (9 grams)
1/3 Cup (80mls) Manuka Honey
1 1/2 cups warm milk
4 1/4 cups bread flour (plain flour will still work)
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp all spice
1/2 tsp salt
50 g / 3.5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Extra flour for Dough: kneeding/mixing
1/2 cup flour
5 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons honey, warmed
Place sultanas in a heat proof bowl. Zest and juice your oranges and pour over the sultanas and heat slightly. The sultanas will absorb the orange juice and make them sweet and plump.
Place flour, yeast, honey, all spice, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Briefly mix with stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Or mix together quickly with a whisk.
Add butter, milk egg, and the soaked sultanas and zest. If using a stand mixer turn on speed 2 for around 5 minutes until a smooth elastic dough forms. This is where you can add in the extra flour if needed, but use just enough so the dough starts to come away from the side of the bowl when mixing and doesn't stick to your fingers when you give it a gentle push.
Otherwise if hand needing dust your bench with flour and knead by hand for 10 minutes. The dough will be ready when it's smooth and doesn't break when you stretch it. You really need to give it some elbow grease and kneed well for 10 minutes. You'll start to feel the difference when it's ready.
Leave dough in the bowl, cover with cling wrap and place in a warm, draught free place to rise and double in size. Depending on how warm your house is this can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours. A hand tip is to place in your houses hot water cupboard, or I like to turn the light on in the oven and place in there. Or even place on the top of your fridge as the heat rises from the back of the fridge.
Forming the buns
Line a 9x13" tray with baking paper with some decent overhang.
Remove cling wrap from bowl and punch dough to deflate.
Dust your bench with flour and roll and shape the dough in to a log, then cut in to 12 equal pieces.
Take one piece and roll in to a ball, and continue rolling and shaping until it's nice and smooth. Place the ball smooth side up on the trap and repeat with all the dough lining them up 3 x4 in the tray.
Lightly oil a piece of cling wrap and loosely place over the tray and leave in a warm place to rise, it'll take around 30-45 minutes.
Preheat over to 180 degrees Celsius.
Mix flour and water until a thick runny paste forms, and place in a piping bag with a 3mm round tip. Or place in a ziplock bag and snip the corner to form a small hole.
Remove cling wrap from risen buns and pipe crosses along the rows of the buns. Go slow and take your time.
Bake for around 25-30 mins until golden brown on top. Remove buns from the over and glaze with the warmed honey. Then lift buns out of the tin and place on a cooling rack. Enjoy!