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Hot Cross Buns

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Hot cross buns are synonymous with Easter. You will find them everywhere through March and April but if you ask me hot cross buns are something that can be enjoyed all year round. Made from an enriched brioche style dough, flavoured with vanilla & orange and filled with dried fruit and spices. Warm from the oven, toasted and smothered with butter or simply enjoyed with a cup of tea, with this recipe you will find yourself making them through Easter and well into the winter months. The secret to our hot cross buns is that we use the same mincemeat that fills of mince pies at Christmas, boozy soaked fruit with that nice balance of spice. Each year I always look to make a little extra mincemeat at Christmas that can be kept until Easter; perfect for hot cross buns.
500g strong white flour
50g brown sugar
5g / 1 tsp salt
300ml milk
1 egg
10g  fresh yeast or 1 tsp of dried yeast
1 tsp of vanilla extract
Zest of 1 orange
1 tsp all spice
50g diced butter
200g dried fruit.
(You can use a mix of sultanas, raisins, cranberries and currants as well as some mixed peel marinaded in orange and lemon juice along with some cinnamon and clove works great. Allow to marinade at least overnight)
Hot Cross Paste
100g flour
40g  icing sugar
60g milk
Makes 12 buns (90g each)
This dough can be made by hand, however if you have a food mixer feel free to use it using the dough hook attachment
Mix together the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of the mixer. Add the vanilla extract, orange zest and allspice to the flour
Crumble the yeast into the flour and pour the milk along with the egg into the flour. Begin to mix the dough on a slow/medium speed. This is quite a soft, supple dough. If it feels a little wet and sticky don’t panic, just stay with it and be persistent the dough will come together. Avoid the temptation to add extra flour. Continue to mix for 3 to 4 mins. As the dough develops, slowly add the diced butter. Increase the speed of the mixer slightly. Continue to mix until all the butter has been incorporated
Add the dried fruit to the dough and gently knead for 1 to 2 minutes to distribute the fruit. We simply want the fruit to be evenly distributed without having it all broken up. Put the dough in a oiled bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to prove for about 90 minutes.
Once the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto a clean work surface and knock back.
Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces approximately 90 g each. Roll each piece of dough into a round and place on a non-stick baking tray or a tray lined with parchment, leaving enough room between to allow each bun to prove and grow without touching . Leave to prove again for 60 minutes or until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/375°F/gas mark 5 then make up the paste for the crosses by mixing together the flour, sugar, and milk in a bowl. The paste needs to be of a piping consistency. Brush each bun with beaten egg, spoon the paste into a piping bag and pipe a cross on each bun.
Bake the buns at 200c for 16 to 18 minutes, until rich & golden in colour. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Whilst warm, brush each bun with a simple sugar glaze to add a wonderful shine and finger licking  stickiness.
Sugar glaze: 50ml water, 50g caster sugar. Place into a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for 1 minute.