What is a Hot Cross Bun?
Hot Cross Buns are spiced bread rolls made with an enriched dough. You will recognise them marked with a cross and traditionally eaten today, Good Friday. Traditionally you eat them to mark the end of Lent. The cross signifies the cross from the crucifixion. The spices used to flavour the dough are thought to represent the spices used to embalm Jesus’s body. The extra flavour in this recipe comes from a good beer and I am using a recipe from Alice Bower, the Group Executive Chef of the Liberation Group, who own two great breweries*. ( Guy’s I’m plugging the beer again ).
You can now buy the buns without the cross and a smiley face ( not cross buns ). Amongst the varieties and flavours are toffee, orange and cranberry, apple and cinnamon and salted caramel. Bakeries make chocolate and banana hot cross buns as well as butterscotch, summer berry and sticky date varieties.
A bit of Hot Cross Bun History
The buns might have originated with a monk in St Albans during the fourteenth century. He gave the poor bread buns on Good Friday. The tradition grew in popularity. But by the reign of Elizabeth I the sale of spiced bread and buns were banned except for burials, Christmas and Good Friday. The rhyme Hot Cross Buns comes from the calls made by London street vendors. The earliest record versions are from around 1730. The buns are now sold commercially throughout the year.
English folklore says that buns baked on Good Friday will not grow mouldy. They can protect against fire, shipwreck and cure ills. So, this recipe for Beer Hot Cross Buns not only tastes great. It could possibly be invaluable. I have made mine with some Liberation Ale. You can use a bottle of your favourite beer ( leaving you a little left over to drink ).
I don’t think you will have a problem eating all of these. If you do why not try my Hot Cross Bread and Butter Pudding Recipe
Liberation Beer Hot Cross Buns
- Baking trays lined with non-stick silicon mats or baking paper
For the Hot cross buns
- 875 gram Plain Flour
- 325 ml Liberation Ale
- 250 ml hot Breakfast tea
- 2 teaspoons dried Milk Powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons Ground Ginger
- 1 ½ teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
- 1 ½ teaspoons Ground Mace
- 1½ teaspoon dry Instant Yeast
- 325 gram Raisins
- 175 gram Mixed peel finely chopped
- 2 large Oranges zested
- 2 large free-range Eggs
- 50 gram Unsalted Jersey Butter
- 50 gram Caster Sugar
- 1½ teaspoon Salt
For the crosses
- 75 gram Plain flour
- 3 tablespoons Apricot jam
- Bring the beer to the boil, then remove from the heat and add the butter. Mix in the tea and leave to cool until it is blood temperature.
- Sift the flour, salt, milk powder, caster sugar and yeast into a bowl. Make a well in the centre. Pour in the warm beer and butter mixture. Whisk the two eggs and add to the bowl. Using a wooden spoon, mix well, then bring everything together with your hands until you have a sticky dough.
- Place the dough on to a lightly floured surface and knead for five minutes. Hold the dough with one hand and stretching it with the heal of the other hand, then fold it back on itself.
- Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm place such as an airing cupboard for at least an hour or until doubled in size.
- Add the fruit, mixed peel and orange zest and knead thoroughly into the dough, making sure everything is evenly distributed. Leave to prove again for another hour, covered by some well-oiled cling film.
- When the dough has again doubled in size, divide into one hundred gram pieces, shape into balls and place on a tray lined with non-stick paper.
- Cover with a clean tea towel, then set aside for one more hour.
- Pre heat your oven to 200 C / 400 F / Gas Mark 6. Mix the remaining plain flour with about five tablespoons of cold water to make the paste for the cross.
- Spoon into a disposable piping bag and pipe a cross on each bun. Bake for twenty to twenty-five minutes on the middle shelf of your oven, until golden brown. Give a quick tap to the bottom of a bun, it will sound hollow when done.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes on a wire rack.
- Carefully heat the apricot jam with a splash of water in a small heavy-bottomed pan. Pass through a sieve to remove any pieces of fruit. While the jam is still warm, brush over the top of the warm buns and leave to cool.
- Eat straightaway or, if you can wait, store and toast up later with lots of butter!