Nothing signifies Easter more than the warm smell of toasted hot cross buns slathered plentifully in butter. Traditionally, they are eaten at this time as it’s the end of Lent and because they are made with dairy products which have been forbidden to eat during this period. Did you know that the cross on top of the buns is in remembrance of Good Friday? Enjoy them straight out of the oven, for breakfast, with a cup of tea or just as a pick-me-up treat - they are irresistible! We love smothering them with local Chew Valley Dairy butter.
Gently bring 300ml of milk to the boil then remove from the heat and add 50g butter. Leave to cool down to a lukewarm temp.
Put 500g flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and stir in the milk and butter mix, followed by the beaten egg. Mix with a wooden spoon and bring everything together into a dough.
Tip onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes then put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl covered with cling film or a damp towel. Put in a warm place and leave to rise/prove for 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.
Tip the sultanas, mixed peel, zest, chopped apple and cinnamon into the dough and mix to make sure everything is distributed. Cover and leave again until doubled in size.
Divide the dough into 15 even pieces (roughly 75g each), roll each piece into a ball and arrange on baking trays lined with greaseproof paper. Make sure you leave enough space for the dough to expand. Cover again with cling film with a little oil on it to stop it from sticking to the dough and prove for 1 more hour.
Heat the oven to 220C/200C Fan/Gas 7. Mix 75g plain flour with 5 tbsp water to make a paste. Spoon into a piping bag or a sandwich bag with the corner chopped off then pipe a line along each row of buns and repeat in the other direction to create a cross.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
Gently heat 2 tbsp of apricot jam. As soon as the buns come out of the oven, brush them with the jam to glaze.
If you have any left over buns that have gone a bit hard, they are still good for toasting but also make fantastic bread and butter pudding!