Apple & cinnamon hot cross buns

I have loved hot cross buns since I was a child. My particular favourite are the Marks & Spencer’s bramley apple ones. This Easter, I decided to make my own. I think wholemeal flour gives the bread a nice nutty finish and works perfectly with the apple and cinnamon combo. They also make the hot cross buns healthier, especially with added apple. They do take a while to make, due to having to wait twice for the dough to rise, but you can get on with other things in the meanwhile and they are well worth the wait!

Ingredients: Makes 12

• 75ml whole milk

• 75ml water

• 1.5 sachets (12 g) Active yeast dried (normal action, not fast)

• 325g strong brown/ wholemeal flour

• 50g cold butter, cut into cubes

• 1 tsp mix spice or all spice

• 1.5 tsp cinnamon powder

• 1 tbsp vanilla extract

• Large pinch of salt

• 30g Caster sugar + 1 tsp caster sugar to help yeast

• 90g sultanas

• 1-2 green apples, peeled, cored and diced into small pieces (I used 2 as wanted more fruit included)

• 1 egg, beaten

Flour paste for the ‘cross’:

• 60g Plain flour

• 5 tbsp water

Glaze:

• 2 tbsp Granulated sugar

• 2 tbsp Water

1. Add the milk and water to a microwavable jug and microwave for 30 seconds until lukewarm

2. Add in 1sp sugar and the yeast into this mixture and whisk well. Leave to one side.

3. Mix together the flour and butter together with your fingers (like how you make a crumble), until fine crumbs.

4. Add the mixed spice powder, cinnamon powder, vanilla extract, sultana, apple pieces, sugar and salt to the crumbs. Mix well.

5. Make a hole in the middle of the mixture with your hands, and add the egg and water, milk and yeast mixture, which will now be frothy.

6. Mix either with your hand or a electric machine, until well combined.

7. Then put on a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. I keep adding flour every few cycles of kneading so that the mixture does not get too sticky. Don’t worry if the apple pieces and sultanas fall out when kneading, you can always push them back into the dough at the end.

8. Get a bowl, spread some oil in it, to stop the mixture from sticking and add the dough into it.

9. Cover with cling film and leave in a warm place for 1.5 hours, for the yeast to work its magic- I suggest a clothes dryer or empty oven.

10. It now should be doubled in size. Then on a floured work surface, you want to ‘knock back’ and kneed until it is back to its normal size.

11. Weigh the dough then divide into 12 pieces. I weighed my mix out and worked out each hot cross bun needed to be around 90g. Make into a nice rounded shape.

12. Get a large baking tray which has been greased with oil.

13. Add the hot cross bun balls to the tray ( I did 6 per tray to give them more space to rise) and cover with cling film.

14. Leave for a further 45 minutes to rise and double in size again.

15. Pre-heat the oven to 200⁰C.

16. Meanwhile make the cross mixture, by mixing the flour and water together. Place in a piping bag. If you do not have a professional piping bag, then you can put the mixture in a ziplock bag, seal it and snip off the end with scissors, to create an opening.

17. Once the hot cross buns have doubled in size again, I transferred them back into 1 tray. Pipe each one with a cross. I piped lines down and across the tray to cover each bun easily.

18. Bake for 15 minutes in the oven.

19. Heat up the sugar and water for the glaze in the microwave for 1 minute.

20. Once the buns are out of the oven and still hot, glaze with the sugar mixture.

Enjoy toasted or fresh out of the oven with butter and a cup of tea.

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