I may not be overally religous, but i am traditional.  Hot cross buns appear from many members of our family.  I must admit i love the whole process from fermenting the yeast to making a lovely silky, heavily scented dough, placing it in front of the fire too prove.  Letting out a bit of anger in knocking the dough back and then tenderly moulding the buns.  And best of all when they finally get into the oven and the house fills with that unforgettable aroma of sugar and spice mmmm....Happy Easter everyone!


Makes 20

325g raw cane sugar
1 ½ granny smith apples, unpeeled, cored and diced
1 cinnamon quill
750g flour
150g sultanas or golden raisins
50g dried apples, diced
30g glace peel
14g dried yeast
3 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp allspice
Finely grated rind of 1 orange and 1 lemon
380ml milk
100g butter, diced
1 egg
Combine 260g sugar and 375ml water in a saucepan, squeeze in juice of ½ a lemon and stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Meanwhile, cut remaining lemon half in 5mm-thick slices, add to pan with Granny smith apple and cinnamon quill. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium and cook until lemon and apple are translucent (20-25 minutes). Stain, reserving fruit and syrup separately. When cool enough to handle, dice lemon, combine with apple and set aside.

Combine 700g flour, sultanas, dried apple, glace peel, yeast, 3 teaspoons cinnamon, allspice, rinds, remaining sugar, reserved apple mixture and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl and make a well in the centre.

Warm the milk with the butter until the butter melts, cool till lukewarm. Whisk in the egg and then the milk mixture into the flour, stirring to form a soft dough. Turn onto a lightly floured bench and knead for 8-10 minutes. Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover and stand in a warm place until doubled in size (30-40 minutes).

Knock back dough, divide into 20 even sized pieces, then knead each piece into a smooth ball. Arrange dough balls into two concentric circles on a large round or rectangle oven tray lined with baking paper, leaving 1 cm between each for dough to expand. Cover with a tea towel and stand in a warm place until doubled in size (30-40 minutes).

Preheat oven to 220C. Combine remaining flour and 70 ml cold water in a bowl and stir to a smooth paste. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a small plain nozzle and pipe a cross shape onto each bun. Bake for 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 200C and bake until golden and buns sound hollow when tapped (8-10 minutes).

Meanwhile, combine the reserved syrup and remaining ground cinnamon in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until syrupy and combined. Brush thickly over hot buns, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Delicious!!!