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Author Notes: What can I say? Make these hot cross buns. Skip the tangzhong if you are feeling lazy but do try the Chinese 5 Spice Powder – it is delicious. Or maybe try another spice mix that is lurking in your kitchen. Ras el hanout with chopped dates maybe? Or Persian advieh with barberries? —Sophia R
Makes 6 hot cross buns
For the buns
- 300 grams flour, divided
- 135 grams milk
- 1 egg
- 3.5 grams dried active yeast (a generous teaspoon)
- 2 teaspoons Chinese 5 Spice Powder
- 50 grams prunes
- 50 grams candied peel
- 50 milliliters water
For the bun wash
- 50 grams water
- 25 grams water
- Start by making a flour and milk paste. In a medium sauce pan on medium heat, whisk together 12.5g of flour and 62.5g of milk until they form a thick paste (see the photo above for what it should look like). Stir in the butter until it is melted completely, followed by the remaining milk and the egg.
- In a mixing bowl whisk together the remaining flour, with the yeast, Chinese 5 Spice Powder, salt and brown sugar. Form a well in the centre and pour in the wet ingredients. Stir everything together then tip onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough passes the windowpane test. The dough is very sticky so this may well take 15-20 minutes. In the beginning it will seem like you are merely spreading a sticky floury mess all over your kitchen counter but do resist the urge to add more flour. With some perseverance (and maybe some entertainment from Netflix) the dough will soon become smooth, shiny and beautifully stretchy.
- Cover the dough and let rest for 5 minutes then knead in the chopped prunes and candied orange until well distributed. Place the dough back in the mixing bowl, cover and set aside to proof until doubled (depending on how warm your kitchen is this will take around 1 hour).
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
- On a lightly floured surface divide the dough into six pieces (if you want to be precise, each bun should weigh around 95 grams) and shape into buns. Place the buns, seam-side down on the prepared sheet pan, cover with a kitchen towel and set aside to proof until doubled (this should take around 45 minutes).
- Whisk the flour together with the water, fill into a piping bag and pipe a thin cross on each bun. Bake the buns for 15-20 minutes (18 minutes seemed to be bang on when I was testing these) or until they are well risen and sound hollow when tapped underneath.
- While the buns are in the oven, make your bun wash. In a small sauce pan bring the sugar and water to a boil and cook just long enough for the sugar to dissolve completely.