These hot cross buns are ever so slightly non traditional with the use of the tangzhong method to make them super super soft, and the chocolate cross on top. Aaand also through the middle! Yes that’s right, there is a chocolate brown cross in every slice of this hot cross bun loaf.
Okay, so maybe a little bit wobbly but nevertheless, a 3D engineered cross! And extra soft and pillowy because of the addition of the water roux (tangzhong) paste. No the mini hot cross buns do not have any hidden crosses, but they are lovely all the same. Bobby the cat certainly agrees!
I’d seen lots of recipes for hot cross loaves, but as far as I could see, no one had written about a hot cross bun loaf with the cross running through like this. So I’m very proud of this creation. This is actually the second time I attempted to make this – the first time being ages ago last Easter. It was a bit of a flop as I was in a rush, but this time I was determined to get it right, and made sure I left myself extra time to deal with the design of the cross in the middle. This recipe was adapted from here, a Paul Hollywood recipe. I adapted the quantities to include the tangzhong paste, upped the cinnamon content, used more mixed fruit and no mixed peel, and didn’t use an apple, although I’m sure the recipe would be lovely with the addition of the apple. On the Easter addition of the great british bake off, I’m pretty sure Hollywood makes these hot cross buns according to his recipe, and says that the apple adds a lot, though it’s not really traditional. The original recipe also uses three lengthy rising times, whereas I just used the standard two because I didn’t have the time. I suppose 3 hours would give a better flavour, so can be done if you have more time on your hands.
Ingredients for tangzhong paste:
125ml water/milk mix (half water, half milk)
Ingredients for dough:
475g strong white bread flour
175ml full fat milk
50g unsalted butter
75g caster sugar
125g mixed fruit (raisins, sultanas, mixed peel, cranberries, anything dried!)
2 tsp cinnamon
grated zest of one orange
(also about 1-2 tbsp of cocoa powder for the crosses, and some extra flour. And save the juice from the grated orange, as this can be mixed with a little sugar and brushed on top of the buns later)
First, make the tangzhong paste. Mix the flour with the water and milk mixture, and mix til there are no lumps. Then place over a low heat and stir quickly, until the mixture is thickened and leaves behind a ‘trail’ when stirred. Like so:
Cover, and let this mixture cool to room temperature.
Next, in a separate bowl heat the milk with the butter until the butter melts, then let this mixture cool to a tepid temperature.
In a separate bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients (flour, salt, sugar and yeast) – ensuring that the salt does not directly touch the yeast. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the tangzhong paste and milk and butter mix, then add the egg. Roughly mix together using a wooden spoon, then tip out on to a lightly floured surface and bring it together using your hands. Knead the mixture for about 5 to 10 minutes, until soft and elastic.
Place the dough in a bowl, cover, and leave to rise for about an hour. Before rising mine looked like this:
Meanwhile, prepare the mixed fruit and start grating the orange peel. Save the orange because the juice can be used later to glaze the top so it’s nice and shiny.
Then, when your dough is doubled, incorporate the fruit. I like to flatten out the dough, sprinkle over the fruit, then roll it up. Then knead to get the fruit properly distributed. Now, I have a small-ish loaf tin, so I separated the dough at this point. 350g to make 5 individual small buns (70g each), and the rest I set aside for the loaf. Shape the buns and place on to a greased baking tray. Leave some space between them as they’ll rise over the next hour, then again in the oven.
Now, to get that elusive cross!! I started by removing a portion of the dough and kneading in about a tablespoon of cocoa powder (this dough will form the cross through the middle). Unfortunately, I can’t remember the proportion of chocolate dough to white dough I used here as it was a bit trial and error!
I then divided this chocolate dough into 3 rectangles: one to go straight down the middle of the loaf tin, and two to lie flat on either side (see pictures for what I mean by this). The white dough is divided into four equal pieces. Two to lie below the chocolate dough, and two which are placed above.
This isn’t easy to explain but I hope the pictures make it a bit clearer!
Next, cover the loaf and buns lightly with cling film, and let rise again for about an hour. My loaf rose to the top of the tin, then sprang up a bit more again in the oven. Once risen, pipe on the crosses. To make the paste for the cross, mix about 75g plain flour with a tablespoon of cocoa powder, and a few tbsp of water. Add one tablespoon of water at a time. The paste should be thick, of a pipeable consistency and not too runny. Pipe crosses on to the buns and the loaf.
Bake the buns for about 20 mins at 220C for a non fan oven, or 200C for a fan oven. The loaf needs a little longer because of its size. About 30 to 35 minutes. Cover with tin foil once desired colour on the surface is achieved, this will stop it browning further!
As soon as they come out of the oven, brush with a sticky glaze. I used some orange juice warmed with a little sugar, but you can also just use warmed jam.
They really are a treat and you’ll want to eat them straight away, though it’s best to let them cool!