How not to make Hot Cross Buns

It’s Easter time – what else could I do this week, but one of my favourite seasonal unless you’re Coles or Woollies who seem to think Easter starts just after New Year treats.

Those of you might have seen on our Facebook page that I’ve been practicing baking these… Well that’s what I tell everyone, it might just be that I wanted to eat more hot cross buns.

The first time I made these was in high school home ec class. I was delighted that they worked! The second time I used that same recipe. It was when A1 and I were living in Sydney. It can’t have been long before we moved back to Tassie as it was when we were living in our apartment that we had bought on the Southern Sydney outskirts in Banksia, near the airport. We had a north facing balcony, and I put them out on our balcony to prove.
There were three buildings in our complex, and we had an end balcony which was separated by a walkway then there was one of the other buildings adjacent to ours, split by the walkway. I had put them on the end of our balcony and obviously the smell had tempted our male ‘neighbour’ who asked me what they were when I next stepped out onto the balcony.
I’d explained that I was making hot cross buns, and he looked all excited about that so I figured I’d put a couple aside for him and toss them over when I next saw him.
When I next came onto the balcony to retrieve them for baking, I was accosted by his rather annoyed girlfriend who told me in quite a miffed tone, “why on earth did you go and make those – now he expects ME to bake some”… Sheesh! Forgive me child!

Anyway, I didn’t see either of them all day so they didn’t get any, I should have just piffed a paper bag of them into their balcony, but oh well!

This time around I was unable to locate my cooking book from high school, I still have it an I still write recipes in it – but it is currently still packed away in a box of Hot Cross Bunsbooks (I can hear Danni screaming all the way from Sydney – ‘You STILL haven’t unpacked some boxes yet?!?!?’). So I blame the lack of my trusty recipe on my failure…

So possible other mistakes (other than not using said trusty recipe) I made with my batch from Monday:
I used egg replacer – not sure if it was a problem or not, but I strayed from the original recipe with those.
I halved the batch – as it was it made a nice dozen for us – plenty, unless you want to freeze them.
I didn’t indent a cross before piping – I think this would have helped the cross sit in better.
I put them too far apart on the tray – they ended up looking like rolls not buns – a big distinction – really!
And I made the dough in the bread maker. Ok, so it might be cheating, but seriously, I’m busy. I have two kids to teach, love and entertain, a house to keep vaguely tidy, dinner to cook and work to go to in the afternoon. I don’t have time to knead and all that jazz. Seriously, people say kneading dough is therapy (Danni probably would!) I say it’s time consuming and I get bored. Chocolate and/or wine and/or a good book is better therapy time for me!
I also replaced about 1/4 if the regular flour with Atta flour and I went 50/50 on brown sugar/caster sugar.
Have you ever seen a more mottley batch of hot cross buns/rolls – some superb plastic bag piping work, don’t you think??

So cut to attempt#2. I made the recipe including eggs, and all caster sugar, whacked it all in the bread maker and walked away. Did a number of things.
Came back to check about 40 minutes later, thinking I hadn’t heard any noise…
I hadn’t. It probably helps to turn the bread maker on if you want it to make dough FFS…
Back to square one – and therapy. I didn’t have time to wait for it in the bread maker now, so I HAD to knead it.
By this stage, it all got rushed, I was in the middle of getting dinner ready and getting myself and the kids prepared to leave for work, so the second prove got cut short.
Into the oven they went.
They still came out like rolls cause they didn’t have enough time to rise properly. They could have done with longer cooking time to make better colour.
But again they tasted good!
Sadly I was literally pulling them out of the oven and running for work so I didn’t get a photo of the second batch, but they looked pretty much the same as the first batch, only slightly anaemic!

Suffice to say, follow the recipe (unlike me who can’t help to chop and change), give then enough rising time. And enjoy freshly baked treats and a lovely smelling house! Oh and I fully recommend chucking in dried blueberries in – delicious!

The recipe I followed was from Taste and by all accounts, looking at the comments, no-one has issues with failed buns, so I’d say don’t do what I do and you’ll be fine!!

Hot Cross Buns (recipe from Taste)
2 x 8g sachets dried yeast
1 1/4 cups (310ml) milk, warmed
1/4 cup (60g) caster sugar
4 cups (600g) plain flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon (I definitely recommend tripling this)
1 tsp ground mixed spice (triple as per cinnamon)
1 tsp salt
60g butter
1 cup sultanas
1 cup dried cranberries (I used dried blueberries)
2 eggs
1/3 cup (50g) self-raising flour
apricot jam, warmed and sieved, for brushing (I didn’t bother with this as I hate stickiness)

Whisk yeast, milk and caster sugar until the sugar dissolves. Set aside for 10 minutes.

Sift plain flour with cinnamon, mixed spice and salt into a large bowl. Use your fingertips to rub in butter.

Stir in sultanas, cranberries (craisins), eggs and yeast mixture. Turn dough onto floured surface. Knead 5 mins. Put in large greased bowl. Cover. Leave in warm spot 3/4 hour.

Punch down. Knead until smooth. Shape into 12 balls. Put into 30cm x 20cm greased baking tray. Set aside 1/4 hour.

Preheat oven to 200°C. Combine self-raising flour and 1/4 cup (60ml) water. Pipe crosses onto the buns.

Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 180°C and bake for a further 15 minutes. Brush buns while warm with jam. (Lather with butter and enjoy while hot)



  1. dannijh says:

    A little secret…even I use the bread maker for that sort of thing!!! (and I SERIOUSLY CANNOT BELIEVE you still have boxes to unpack!!!!!) xo

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