As always, I’ve been spending some time trying to perfect these beauties. It’s frustrating though, because every year I’ll make a dozen different recipes searching for the best one, but then by the time the next year rolls around I’ll forget which ones I tried and which ones I liked (I am aware that this is entirely my own fault!). As a means of solving this issue I have a Pinterest board devoted to recipes that I have tried, each picture having a little review. And yet, without any surprise, laziness, and probably a few other things, mean that this is not the most comprehensive list of my baking exploits. Which sucks, and I really should just be more disciplined about it! So that’s one goal for the moment.
But anyway, hot cross buns. I think hot cross buns are actually pretty precious to me. It sounds odd, I know. And I don’t even think it’s necessarily because I’m a baker. Since I was young I’ve loved them, even with all their spices. I think they’re made more special because you only have them once a year…(side note – unless you live in the UK – they literally have hot cross buns on the shelves of Tesco and Waitrose ALL YEAR ROUND. Not even kidding. They’re just there. The whole time. It’s nuts. And I think it takes the magic away from it.) It’s like Christmas. As soon as you see Christmas paraphernalia in the shops the anticipation begins. I know Easter isn’t celebrated nearly as extravagantly for most people, but I get the same sense of expectation and joy from seeing Easter eggs and hot cross buns in the stores! I think I’m just a sucker for festivals.
So anyway. I’m still searching for the perfect hot cross buns. There are a few key elements that make a perfect hot cross bun, I think:
- Soft, light bready texture – you know the ones you buy from Coles that are so chock-full of preservatives that they stay fluffy and soft for a week? Yep, that’s disgusting, but also amazing!
- Intense spice! If hot cross buns don’t smell out the house, or at least the kitchen, then something’s wrong. They should be pungent and intoxicating!
So here’s my review of a few recipes:
- The classic Jamie recipe. Of course it’s a solid recipe. Just take note to knead a lot – the more you knead the softer and fluffier the hot cross buns gets! So when he says 10 minutes, he really means 10 minutes. I know it’s exhausting, but it’s fun and it’ll be well worth it for the texture! He does also add some ginger and cranberries, so by all means just omit these if you’re not keen – it won’t affect the outcome at all beyond the flavour of the buns.
- Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (best name in history, just say it out loud a couple of times, it’s truly epic) owns and runs the River Cottage in Dorset (southern England, near Bristol). It’s amazing and totally awesome and he does very solid, British, homely food very, very well! He grows most of his own produce – it’s pretty phenomenal. So unsurprisingly his recipe is also a good’n.
- For something a bit different, this BBC recipe is gold! Of course, if you’re not quite as adventurous and some, you can omit the chocolate and orange and just go for the classic fruit and spice combo, but they do give a nice kick!
- And finally, there’s a recipe from that classic old book that so many people own…Cookery the Australian Way. It was my textbook at high school and it is ridiculously ugly now, but the recipes are still golden. But I’m trying to figure out if the key to the goodness of this recipe is that actual recipe or the fact that I kneaded the dough in the KitchenAid instead of by hand! So I’ll try it again another day and see what happens! (and I’ll post the recipe if it turns out it actually was the recipe!)
So they’re the recipes I can remember, but I’m going to keep trying different recipes to find the best yet!