I only discovered hot crossed buns about 10 years ago. They were not part of my childhood growing up in America so it wasn’t until I met Stuart that I learned about this traditional bun served at Easter. He loved them but they are a minefield for migraine sufferers. I had to completely re-dux every recipe that I found and it’s taken me a good five years to finally perfect it. I’m delighted to share it with you.
To make hot cross buns migraine-friendly I had to first change the dried fruit. Traditionally the buns have citrus peel which is a migraine trigger and sultanas, which Stuart doesn’t like. I’ve substituted in preservative free apricots. The addition of dark chocolate, which is not a migraine trigger makes these extra special.
The next problem to overcome was the spice mixture. I found that Chinese 5 spice gives them a more mild spiciness. And I’ve given up on making the crosses as they are filled with a flour paste. I think it detracts from the bun. I have seen some recent variations using patrissire cream for the cross that I want to try. I’ll let you know how it goes.
The final hurdle to overcome was their hockey puck consistency. I wanted my hot cross buns to be soft and fluffy. Something reminiscent to American cinnamon rolls. And last year I stumbled upon the technique that Chinese and Japanese bakeries use to get that super soft bread – tangzhong. It’s a water roux and if you’ve made gravy before then you know how to do it. It’s just a matter of adding it in as a step.
Finally this year I perfected the baking by using my cast iron baking dish. If you don’t have one a cast iron skillet will work and is oh so trendy right now. It is so worth getting up in the morning and whipping up a batch of these for morning tea. Extras are great toasted the next day. Enjoy my friends.
Migraineur’s Hot Cross Buns
Hot cross buns with lashings of butter make the perfect morning tea.
Required skills: boiling water; egg breaking with no shells in the bowl; using a measuring cup instead of eyeballing it; lining a baking tin with baking paper.
There are two secrets to great hot cross buns. The first is to use a tangzhong to make them fluffy instead of like hockey pucks. The second is to use a cast iron baking dish or skillet. This disperses the heat more uniformly and at a greater intensity than regular bakeware.
- ⅓ cup bread flour
- ½ cup water
- 25 gm of butter cut into cubes + extra for buttering bowls and pans
- 150 ml milk
- 1 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 7g packet of dry yeast
- 1 egg slightly beaten
- 2 cups bread flour + ¼ cup for dusting surfaces
- 1 tsp Chinese five spice
- Pinch of salt
- ½ cup diced preservative free dried apricots
- ¼ cup chopped dark chocolate that is free from preservatives, soy lecithin and yeast extracts/natural flavourings. I use Haigh’s dark couverture.
- Small jar with a tight fitting lid
- Stand mixer with bread hooks (optional but prefered)
- Baking paper
- Cast iron baking dish or skillet
- The first step is to make the tangzhong. It’s just a water roux and if you’ve made gravy before well then you are sorted. In a small jar with a tight fitting lid place the ⅓ cup of flour and ½ cup of water and give it a good shake. All the lumps should be gone and you’ll have a thick paste like liquid. Pour it into a saucepan and and bring to a boil over medium heat while stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and boil for 2 minutes while stirring constantly.
- Add in the milk, honey, sugar and stir well while on a low heat. Stir well to combine and then add the butter. Keep stirring until the butter melts and remove from the heat.
- Allow to cool until it is warm to the touch, 36C (95F) and then whisk in the yeast. If it’s any hotter you will kill the yeast instead of activating them. If that happens just pitch it and start again.
- Allow to sit for 5 minutes. The top should have a creamy foam and a strong yeasty smell should be coming from the milk. If this doesn’t happen then you’ve killed the yeast because the mixture was too hot.
- While this is sitting chop up your apricots, whisk up the egg and measure out your flour, Chinese 5 spice and salt into a mixing bowl.
- Combine the flour, Chinese 5 spice and salt. If using a stand mixer then pour in the milk/yeast mixture followed by the egg. Mix at medium speed for 10 minutes. If doing by hand make a well in the flour and pour in your liquids. Combine by swirling until it pulls away from the bowl-it will be sticky. Turn out and knead for 10 minutes.
- The dough will be very stretchy and you should be able to pull it quite thin. Keep mixing/kneading until you reach this point.
- Add the diced apricots and mix/knead until dispersed through the dough.
- Turn into a buttered bowl and allow to rise until double in size-about 2 hours.
- Preheat your oven to 190C (400F).
- Line your baking dish/skillet with buttered baking paper.
- Punch down the dough and worth the chocolate through. Roll into a log and cut into 6 equal pieces. Shape into balls and score the tops with a cross (optional). Place in the baking dish/skillet in a tight fit. Cover with a clean tea towel and allow to rise for 30 minutes in a warm place.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and slightly hollow sounding.
- Cool in the pan but serve warm with lashings of butter.
So my friends, why not check out what else has been ReDuxed this month at