Saturday, 23 March 2013

Hot-Cross Buns (just in time for Easter) with water roux

Hot cross buns! Hot cross buns!
One a penny, two a penny
Hot cross buns!

With Easter almost upon us, I had a few requests to make my hot-cross buns.  This time around, I had decided to try out the water roux method to make these soft melt in your mouth sweet buns even more soft! These traditional buns are very popular here in UK during the Easter time. The traditional cross on these Easter buns probably symbolized the four the seasons and were made during the spring time to point out the end of winter time and the cycle of seasons. But later the cross was associated with Good Friday and the Crucifixion. Regardless, they taste great and are perfect for this time of the year with the smell of spices and mild sweet taste of the dried fruits.

There are many superstitions surrounding hot cross buns. One of them says that buns baked and served on Good Friday will not spoil or mold during the subsequent year (probably due to the spices in them). Sharing a hot cross bun with another is supposed to ensure friendship throughout the coming year, particularly if "Half for you and half for me, Between us two shall goodwill be" is said at the time. If hung in the kitchen, they are said to protect against fires and ensure that all breads turn out perfectly. The hanging bun is replaced each year. For more info on these look in wikipedia here.

Like many traditional recipes hot-cross buns have many variations. Traditionally the crosses were made with shortcrust pastry. There are recipes that use plain flour and margarine and/or water to make the crosses. I make mine with royal icing (egg whites and icing sugar). If you do not want a sweet tasting crosses, you can use either shortcrust pastry or plain flour and margarine method. Also for the getting the shiny sticky look the hot-cross buns are usually glazed using one of these options: 3 tbsp of apricot jam + 3 tbsp of water- heated up to dissolve completely and sieved or 3 tbsp of sugar + 3 tbsp of milk- heated up to dissolve completely or 3 tbsp of sugar + 3 tbsp of water- heated up to dissolve completely. Again, I use a different glaze here with condensed milk instead. Here is the recipe I have used...

You will need:
water roux prepared as given here
1 - 1 and 1/4 cup warm milk
1 egg/ egg substitute (optional)
4 cups unbleached white bread flour
1 and 1/2 tsp apple pie spice or
1/2 tsp each of ground ginger, nutmeg and all spice
1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 and 1/2 tsp of rapid-raise active dry yeast
1/2 cup currants
3 tbsp golden raisins
3 tbsp mixed candied fruit peel
egg wash (optional): 1 egg + 3 tbsp milk

For Glaze:
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp sweetened condensed milk

For the crosses: (choose other methods if you want to avoid using eggs)
3/4 cup icing sugar
1 medium egg white

Prepare the water roux as shown in the recipe here. Cool it to room temperature.

Whisk  the warm milk with the roux and make sure there are no lumps (sieve if you have to). Add the egg and lightly beat to mix well.

Pour this mixture into the bread pan. Reverse the order given here if your machine instructs to start with yeast first.

Sprinkle the flour over, ensuring that it covers the liquid. Add the spices, salt sugar and butter in separate corners of the pan. Make a shallow indentation in the centre and add yeast.
Set the bread machine to basic dough settings and press start. Add the dried fruits when the machine beeps or 5 minutes before the kneading cycle is done (after around 10 -15 min). If hand kneading add the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Incorporate all the liquids and knead for 15-20 mins to form a smooth dough. It will be sticky to begin with. Cover and set aside to raise for 1 to 1.5 hrs. Lightly grease/ place parchment papers on two baking sheets.

After the dough cycle has finished remove dough from the pan/bowl and place it on a lightly floured surface. Punch it down gently. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius/ 375 degrees Fahrenheit (fan assisted)

Divide the dough into 12 (for large buns) or 16 (for medium sized ones) equal portions. Shape each one of them into a ball by cupping each piece between your hands and rotate and stretch the dough down. Pinch the stretched pieces in the bottom. Shaping this way creates surface tension and leads a good oven-spring leading to soft and fluffy buns!

Place them 2-3 inches apart on the baking sheets. COver and let raise for 30-45 mins or until dough has almost doubled in size. At this point if using short crust pastry, for crosses, cut them into small strips for the crosses. Press them gently onto the buns. If using plain flour, to make
crosses, rub margarine and flour together to form crumbs and bind with enough water to make a soft pastry that can be piped. Using icing bag pipe a cross on each bun.

Prepare the egg wash by beating egg and milk. This gives the golden shiny look to the buns, but, can be skipped if you prefer.

After the second raising time, brush each bun with the egg wash using a pastry brush. Bake the buns, in the middle rack, for 15-18 mins or until golden brown

Mean while, prepare your glazing using your preferred method. Mix condensed milk & milk (if using this method) and warm up in the microwave for 20 secs.

 Remove the buns from the oven when done. The bun should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

 Brush the glaze over the top of the hot buns and enjoy their music! They make a "kissing noise" as Anjalie puts it :)

Turn them out on to a wire rack to cool completely.

Beat egg white and icing sugar to make the icing. 

Pipe a cross on each bun.

The buns are great served warm or cold. We love them for breakfast warm and buttered. Hope you enjoy yours soon and Happy Easter!


  1. Delicious hot cross buns, Love it I love homemade bread a lot.

  2. Lovely looking buns :) all in love with the sweet ingredients in it now!! great idea to make them with the roux again.. very versatile. right? :)


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