hot cross bun recipe
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Hot Cross Bunny

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Last week I was watching the Food Network show The Spring Baking Championship. One of the challenges they had was to make a ‘hot cross bunny.’ The contestants all did different flavourings for their dough and dried fruit and had different interpretations of how to do the bunny but the results were all very cute. I thought it might be a fun challenge to try on the weekend.

I haven’t made Hot Cross Buns before but after looking at a few recipes, I noticed that the base dough was very similar to my soft dinner roll recipe. Since I already had a winning recipe, I decided to go with that as my base and add in spices and dried fruit. The spices vary depending on the recipe so for my spice mix, I went with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger and cardamom which is a combination I find very pleasing. I’m not a fan of the candied peel that you often find in hot cross buns so instead of that, I added in the zest of 2 oranges for a fresh citrus flavour. Instead of raisins or currants, I used some chopped dried apricots and a mix of dried cherries, blueberries and cranberries.

I divided the dough into 8 pieces of the rough size I thought I would need for the ears, head, body, arms and legs of the body. I then stretched the surface of each piece tight bringing the extra into the bottom of each piece. I made sure that all the dried fruit was contained in the dough and not poking out so that they wouldn’t burn during baking. Then I worked at shaping the dough into each body section. I placed them together on a lined baking sheet and let them rise.

Just before baking, I made the paste to decorate the bunny. I followed Paul Hollywood’s recipe for the paste. I did find that I needed way more water than he suggested to get a paste that I would be able to pipe on. For the eyes and the nose, I mixed a bit of cocoa powder into the last bit of paste to colour it.

Because I was baking a bigger loaf, I baked the bunny at a lower temperature (350F) than I would normally bake the rolls so that the outside wouldn’t burn before the centre was cooked. However, this recipe can be easily made as 12 rolls and baked at a higher temperature of 400F for 10-12 minutes. After baking I brushed the loaf with some heated and strained apricot jam to give it a sheen.

The resulting loaf was not only cute but quite delicious and had the hot cross bun flavour I was looking for. A lovely treat to enjoy in the lead up to Easter.

Here is the recipe that I made. You can have fun with it and make a bunny or follow the directions for 12 more traditional buns 🙂

hot cross bun recipe
Yields: 1 Serving Difficulty: Medium Prep Time: 3 Hr 30 Mins Cook Time: 30 Mins Total Time: 4 Hr
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This recipe makes 12 hot cross buns or one large bunny. Flavoured with a mix of dried fruit and warm spices.

Ingredients

0/16 Ingredients
Adjust Servings
  • For the flour paste and finishing

Instructions

0/13 Instructions
  • Combine 23 grams (3 tbsp) flour and 113 grams (1/2 cup) milk in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thick. Transfer mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer and let cool to warm to the touch, but not hot.
  • Mix remaining flour with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cardamom. Add to the flour-milk mixture along with the rest of the milk, the melted butter, eggs, sugar, salt, and yeast. Mix well to combine.
  • Using the dough hook, mix on speed 2 until the dough is smooth and elastic. When you stretch the dough, you should be able to stretch it thin enough to be able to see through it without the dough tearing. This step could take up to 10 minutes. The dough will still be a bit sticky at this point but should start to pull away from the sides of the bowl as you mix it.
  • Meanwhile, soak the dried fruit in hot water for 10 minutes to re-hydrate. Drain before using.
  • Add the soaked dried fruit to your dough and mix on low speed until the fruit is incorporated into the dough, about 2 minutes.
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl and let proof in a warm environment (24-25 C) for until doubled in size and the dough doesn't stick to your finger when gently poked, about 2 hours.
  • Turn the dough out onto the counter and divide it into 12 equal portions of about 70-71 grams each if making individual buns or separate into 8 pieces of varying size for the body, head, ears, arms, and legs of your bunny.
  • Roll portion each into round balls with a taut surface. Try to make sure the fruit is inside the dough instead of poking out so that it doesn't burn during baking. If making a bunny shape them into the different body parts of the bunny and place them together on a lined baking pan. If making buns, place the buns evenly spaced on a lined baking pan. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise once more until the dough is puffy about 1 hour.
  • If making buns, preheat the oven to 400F/205C. If making a bunny, preheat to 350F/180C.
  • Make the flour paste by combining 75 g flour with at least 6 tbsp water to make a thick, slightly runny paste. Pipe over top of your rolls or bunny.
  • Bake the rolls until golden on top and the internal temperature is 190F/88C, about 10-12 minutes for individual buns, 30 minutes for a large bunny.
  • Meanwhile, heat the jam in the microwave until runny, about 20 seconds. Strain any large pieces from the jamp.
  • Brush the jam over the top of the baked buns and let cool completely.

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