Only found out a couple of weeks ago that hot cross buns are basically the mother of Jamaican Easter bun. Jamaicans took this British tradition and made their own by adding molasses to the dough. And so our Easter bun was born!
Decided to switch it up this Easter with these hot cross buns :) Add the wet ingredients to the dry, put a little elbow grease into kneading it, go kill some time while it rises, then shape & bake them.
They're soft & warm the day you bake them, but because no preservatives are used, it's better to keep them in the fridge or freezer for the rest of the week. Then when you want one (for a breakfast sandwich or with jam for an afternoon treat), pop it into the oven until it's warm and a little toasted :)
4 cups (500 g) all purpose flour (+ more for kneading)
2 1/4 tsp (7 g packet) instant dry yeast
3/4 cup (180 g) water
3/4 cup (180 g) almond milk, or any other plant based milk (+ more for "wash")
1/2 cup (110 g) sunflower oil, or any other neutral oil
1/4 cup (50 g) brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
zest from 2 oranges (or lemons)
3/4 cup dried fruit (I used 1/2 cup raisins, 1/4 cup cranberries)
4 Tbs apricot jam (guava jam and marmalade would work well too)
1 cup (125 g) icing sugar
1 Tbs almond milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
In a bowl, whisk together the water, almond milk, sunflower oil, brown sugar, spices, salt and orange zest.
Add the yeast & half the flour. (*see below)
After mixing the first half of the flour in, add the second half and mix again. A sticky dough should form.
Then fold in the dried fruit as best as you can.
Flour a work surface, and knead the dough for 10- 15 mins. Set a timer and get a little upper body workout :) (**see below)
Grease the mixing bowl, put the dough in it and grease the top of the dough too so that a crust doesn't form. Cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise for 2 hours in a warm place. (***see below)
Knock the air out the dough, shape into a circle or log and divide into 12 roughly equal pieces.
Grease or line a baking sheet with baking paper.
Shape each piece of dough into a ball, pulling it around itself and pinching to seal. Place them on the baking sheet, cover with a kitchen towel and let them rise for 30 mins.
Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C).
Dab almond milk on the buns with two fingers (I don't have a pastry brush :) as a "wash" then bake for 15- 20 mins until they brown slightly.
Heat up the apricot jam (add a little water if needed) and then spoon (or again brush if you have a pastry brush) onto the buns while they're still warm. This will keep them soft!
Mix together the ingredients for the crosses in the meanwhile. Place in a piping bag or a zip lock bag. (****see below)
Let the buns cool completely before piping on the crosses.
Enjoy on their own OR cut open and spread with whatever your heart desires! (traditionally, it's butter) I personally think they're even better toasted :)
*If you're not using instant yeast, follow the instructions on the packet. You'll have to add it to warm water first. If it's too hot, it will kill the yeast. If it's too cold, it won't activate it.
**In the beginning, flour the surface periodically when the dough starts to stick, but after a while DON'T ADD ANY MORE. You'll be tempted to, but flour your hands instead and keep the dough moving. It will come together after the 10-15 mins. Sticky dough = soft buns.
***In Jamaica, that means any where :) If you're in a colder country, in a switched off oven with the light on.
****You can skip the crosses if you don't have icing sugar. They will still be yummy!