Kris Biggs, Head Pastry Chef in Richard Picard-Edwards’ Michelin-starred team at Lords of the Manor in the Cotswolds passes on some tips, some history and a recipe for this traditional favourite.
Hot Cross History
A hot cross (bun) is a spiced, sticky glazed sweet bun made with sultanas. It was traditionally marked with a cross on the top and eaten on Good Friday to mark the end of Lent. The cross represents the Crucifixion and the spices are there to remind Christians of the spices put on the body of Jesus.
Traditional vs Modern Buns
The traditional method for making the cross on top of the bun is to use shortcrust pastry; however, more recently recipes have recommended a paste consisting of flour and water.
Tip One True measurements
Pastry is very much about science, if you don’t have the correct measurements you might end up not having the best results. I’m a firm believer in the use of electronic scales as these are the best for accuracy.
Tip Two Tucking
To produce the perfect round bun, when you portion each bun pinch each side quickly and pull into the centre. This traps the air and tightens the dough. (see photo) This helps to make an even roll. Once you’ve portioned all the dough, roll each into a smooth bun.
Tip Three Even colour
The saying goes, ‘you eat with your eyes first.’ To produce the best looking hot cross bun, an even colour is important. As you see in my recipe, I turn the tray during cooking which gives an even colour, it’s also important to glaze your buns as soon as they’re out of the oven.
Hot Cross Buns (a recipe for 16 buns)
500g of strong flour
75g of caster sugar,
50g of butter,
9g of yeast,
5g of salt,
80g of mixed peel,
150g of sultanas,
1 orange zest,
280g of milk,
75g of plain flour (for the cross)
Apricot jam (enough to glaze)
Step 1 – Crumb the first five ingredients, ideally using the paddle attachment of a mixer
Step 2 – Add the remaining ingredients (excluding the 75g of plain flour and jam) to above & allow the mix to come together. Once the dough has evenly mixed, stop the mixer
Step 3 – Allow to prove the dough for one hour
Step 4 – Portion each bun at 80g, roll into a bun
Step 5 – Prove for another hour
Step 6 – At the end of the proving time, make a flour mixture (for the cross) by mixing together 75g of plain flour and 75g of water. Mix until a smooth paste then transfer the mixture into a piping bag, then pipe the crosses over the buns.
Step 7 – Bake at 190˚C for 6 minutes then turn & bake for another 6 minutes.
Step 8 – Glaze with the apricot jam.