Quite often, this blog is a bit doom and gloom; self care, cooking for colds, Rory Gilmore is terrible. But not today! Because let me tell you: everything is coming up Millhouse.
It has been 3 and a half years since I moved to London, which means it’s been 3 and a half years since I needed somewhere to live and lied about how good I was at baking to get people to like me enough to let me live with them. 3 and a half years since I had to learn to bake to come good on that lie (my first Easter in London I made creme egg brownies which did go down well).
Without wanting to sound like a total wang, I am SO PROUD of how far I have come in those years. I’ve gone from working in a bar for minimum wage (in some ways the most important experience of my life) to someone who has to go to management team meetings in a big-ass theatre. I got a job I like that pays me enough money to live in and enjoy London, and I worked hard to get there and I am so happy about it all.
Perhaps most importantly, I am allowing myself to be publicly proud of myself. To think (know?) I am good at things.
See, I have also gotten good at the baking thing. No longer a lie, I can knead with the nearly-best of them, and these hot cross buns are a sunny celebration of the fact that I am a vaguely successfully human being. And of the fact that in the last two weeks there has been actual sunshine and drinking in parks and generally good things. They are laced with a lemony flavour, which makes them taste a bit fresher, lighter and sunnier.
- Half a cup of lemon juice (fresh or the bottle kind), plus another few tbsps for the cross)
- A few good fistfuls of raisins and candied lemon peel (I had about a cup and a half full)
- 250ml milk
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 50g butter
- 500g bread flour (plus another 100g for the crosses)
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 85g caster sugar
- 30g runny honey (plus 2 tbsp for glaze)
- 10g salt
- 7g sachet instant dried yeast
- 1 egg (plus another for an egg wash, if desired)
- In a wee bowl, soak the fruit and candied peel in the lemon juice. Set aside.
- Gently heat the milk until warm but not hot. Take off the heat and add in the butter and lemon zest. The butter should melt without needing extra heat. Set aside to cool a little.
- In a big bowl, add the flour, cinnamon, sugar, salt and honey. Then add the yeast on the opposite side of the bowl to the salt (if you dump it right on there and kill the yeast). Add the egg and the milk mix and bring together into a dough.
- The dough will be shaggy and quite loose, tip it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 - 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Don't add more flour if you can help it.
- Lightly oil the bowl (I tend to use sunflour oil), pop the dough back in and cover with cling film. Leave to prove for 2 hours or until doubled in size.
- When proved, add in the soaked fruit and knock back for a minute or two.
- Shape into buns (I did 8 big ones, but do however many you like at what size you like). Prove for 1 hr or until doubled in size.
- Prehet oven to 180°C.
- Mix the other 100g of flour with 2 - 3 tbsp of lemon juice until you get a paste that is pipeable.
- When the dough is proved, do a quick egg wash and then pipe crosses onto each bun (I cut the corner off a sandwich bag. I m terrible at piping).
- Bake for 30 mins (adjust depending on size - smaller buns will need less time), or until they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
- While they are still warm, mix 2 tbsp honey with 1 tbsp water, then brush on the buns to make them shiny and sweet.