These super delicious Easter hot cross buns are made with a pre-ferment and painted with a chocolate cross on top. You can use your preferred kneading method or the one I've given in this recipe which gives an excellent result.
Soak the raisins and homemade mixed peel in 20ml hot water and the liqueur or syrup whilst getting on with the pre-ferment.
Mix the yeast with 150ml warm water and the milk in medium sized bowl.
Add the sugar and 150g of flour.
Stir, cover the bowl in a plastic bag or tea cloth and leave in a warm place to do it’s thing for an hour.
Put flour into a large bowl with the sugar, spices and salt. Rub in the 20g butter with the tips of your fingers.
Add the pre-ferment and knead in the bowl for 10 minutes. This way you don't need to add extra flour.
Add the soaked fruit and liquid and knead for a further 5 minutes.
Cover with plastic or a tea towel and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes or until it's doubled in size.
Knead as you see fit until the dough is ready, adding the additional 25g butter. Or follow the process I've given below, which gives a really good result.
i) Oil your hands and the work surface and turn out the dough.
ii) Stretch it into an oblong shape and plunge your fingers in to aerate the dough.
iii) Fold one third into the middle and cover with the other third trying to trap as much air in to the dough as possible.
iv) Give a quarter turn.
v) Repeat the process, only this time cover with pieces of unsalted butter (25g) before folding in much the same way as for puff pastry.
vi) Repeat the process again with another 25g of unsalted butter.
Divide into 14 pieces, form into balls and place a little apart on a baking tray or two, depending on the size of your tray.
Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 30 minutes).
Brush the buns with milk.
Make a flour and cocoa paste by mixing 4 tbsp of water with the strong white flour, cocoa and chilli powder, if using.
Pipe the cocoa paste across the top of the buns to form crosses.
Bake at 220℃ (425℉, Gas 7) for 15 minutes or until the buns are golden and sound hollow when tapped on the base.
Dissolve 50g caster sugar in 60g water by heating it gently in a pan.
Brush over the buns to glaze as soon as they are out of the oven.
If you follow the process for kneading I've given, you won't need to add any extra flour and the buns will have a better texture for it.
Please note: calories and other nutritional information are per serving. They're approximate and will depend on serving size and exact ingredients used.