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I love the alchemy of cooking with yeast. I love the magic rising and the silken sponginess of the dough. But, most of all – this is my kind of food and I’ve always gone for bread, pastries and buns. I simply like the taste and the texture.

My backyard is not normally a lake, but last weekend found our region suffering another catastrophic weather event after severe flooding across the region just one month before. The rain and wind through the night were terrifying, which found me outside several times – in the pitch black, because the power was out – unblocking the drains to prevent the gushing rivers of water from entering my house. (I won’t tell you that the only thing I was wearing was a head torch because it might put you off your buns – if you get my drift!).

To get things in perspective – the average rainfall for March is 223 mm – we had over 1,000 mm!

I needed some therapy too, and baking does that for me – plus something to take around to my daughter’s family who were stuck in COVID isolation. I knew that my three little grandsons might appreciate a visit from their Nanma with a basket of treats. It did cross my mind, as I was walking over to their place, that I hoped I didn’t meet a nasty wolf on the way?

I need to confess that every time I have made hot cross buns in the past they have turned out like bullets, but this recipe – concocted from a few others – worked really well. They were delicious and easy to make – NO KNEADING!

INGREDIENTS

For the buns

  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 heaped teaspoons mixed spice
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 50g butter
  • 200g mixed currants and sultanas
  • 10g dried yeast
  • 200ml milk
  • 2 eggs
  • zest of one orange

For the crosses and glaze

  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • honey or treacle, for brushing

METHOD

  • Gently warm the butter in a saucepan, Take off heat as soon as it is melted and add the milk.
  • Lightly whisk the eggs into the milk mixture.
  • Turn the flour into a large bowl and stir in the salt, mixed spice, sugar, yeast and orange zest.
  • Stir in the dried fruit to the flour mixture.
  • With a wooden spoon, stir the milk mixture into other ingredients and mix around to combine.
  • Turn out onto floured surface and shape into rough oblong and let it sit for about five minutes.
  • Line a tray with baking paper.
  • Cut the oblong into 12 roughly equal pieces and shape into buns.
  • Place on the tray with just a small amount of space between them.
  • Leave in a warm place to rise for about an hour. They should double in size.
  • Turn oven on to 200oC.

TOP TIP When making yeast buns and rolls you want to be able to pull them apart, when cooked, so that you have some doughy bits along the edges- otherwise they dry out too much and can become quite hard – so don’t place them too far apart on the tray

  • When the buns are risen – mix the remaining flour with two tablespoons of water into a paste. Pour into a plastic food bag and nick one of the corners.
  • Pipe crosses on top of each bun.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes until risen and golden then brush all over with honey or treacle.

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