Zesty Hot Cross Buns

There isn’t a blog I’m following, or a restaurant I’ve been to that isn’t insisting on throwing their own twist on the infamous, seasonal, Hot Cross Bun.

Which is why I obviously had to follow suit.

Over the course of the past few months I’ve started to make a habit of salvaging the zest of my citrus fruits – oranges, lemons, grapefruits? – with a vegetable peeler.  This ensures you remove the zest, without the pith.  There is so much flavour.  It makes me wince to see it tossed.

Once peeled, either leave it out to dry - up to a couple of days, until ready to use by finely chopping or whizzing in a blender - or shove it straight into the freezer for later use.  One such example being these wonderful Zesty Hot Cross Buns, for example, which also just so happen to be quite timely given this week’s upcoming festivities.  Just saying… [and if you have rather a lot of orange peel lying around, feel free to double the zest!]. 

You are now free to decide whether this recipe is just an excuse to make hot cross buns or hoard orange peel.  But either way.  Hoard the orange peel.  And make the hot cross buns.

Zesty Hot Cross Buns
recipe inspired by Paul Hollywood + delicious. Magazine. makes 8-12.

125g Plain White Flour – plus extra for dusting
125g Whole Wheat Flour
5g Salt
37g White Caster Sugar
20g Unsalted [home made!] Butter
60ml + 60ml Milk [whole or semi-skimmed] – divided use
10g Fresh Yeast (5g dried)
1 Egg
8-10 Frozen Orange peels (zest of 1-2 Oranges)
75g Raisins (or Sultanas)
1tsp Ground Cinnamon
50g Flour
50g Water
70g Marmalade
35ml Boiling Water

In a small saucepan, pour in half the milk (60ml) and heat on high for a minute or so, until warm to the touch (must not boil, right before it starts to steam).  Turn off the heat, and add in the fresh yeast.  Whisk to dissolve, and allow to stand for 5-10 minutes.
In a bowl, mix together flours, sugar and salt.  Add the butter with your hands and squish into the flour until the mixture resembles crumbs.
Into a well in the centre, pour the milk and yeast mixture, incorporating the flour with a fork/wooden spoon/fingers.  When the mixture starts to try, add in the beaten egg, repeating the incorporation process.  Then slowly start to add the rest of the 60ml of milk – you will probably not need all of it, but add enough so that all the dough is incorporated, and the dough comes together forming a soft – not soggy – mixture.  And if you add too much milk, add more white flour.
Once the dough has come together, tip out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes until the dough is smooth.  Place in a lightly oiled boil, cover with a towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 1-3 hours (until doubled in size).
In the meantime, finely chop your zest (or zest from a fresh fruit if using).  Place in a bowl with the raisins, cinnamon, and a teaspoon of white flour.
When the dough has doubled, tip out onto a lightly floured surface, push down lightly with your fingers to form a flat-ish surface, onto which you can then sprinkle your zest and raisin mixture.  Knead the dough until all add-ins are evenly distributed.  Knead into a ball, place back into bowl and leave, covered, in a warm place until doubled in size (about another hour).
Either in the bowl or on a marble/dry surface, to knock out the air, fold the dough inwards, turning the bowl after each time, until all the air has been pushed out.  Then divide the dough into 8 – for fist sized buns, 10 for palm sized, and 12 for mini – pieces, rolling each into a perfect ball, and placing on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, about 2cm a part.  Cover with the towel and leave to rise (I placed mine in a warm oven) until doubled in size – again, for about an hour, or until the dough springs back quickly when prodded lightly.
When ready, (if in the oven then remove) pre heat your oven to 220*C and make the crosses by mixing the flour and water together until it forms a smooth paste, fill a piping (or plastic and snip the corner) bag with a nozzle about 3-5mm wide, pipe crosses over your buns.
Bake immediately for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown, and hollow when tapped underneath – being careful not to burn yourself.  While they bake, prepare the glaze by diluting the marmalade in about half as much boiling water (more or less depending on the consistency – you want it to be easily spreadable, but not too runny – about the consistency of runny honey) and sieving into a bowl.
When buns are ready, remove from the oven and glaze all over.  Allow to cool – or as you might have guessed, don’t and spread immediately with butter and marmalade – on a wire rack before serving.

For breakfast toasted and topped with all the condiments: butter + marmalade, peanut butter + jam, nutella, nut butters.
Baked with the addition of candied peel to the dough [as in Paul Hollywood's version], and or chocolate chips to contrast the orange.
Substituting raisins with favourite dried fruit of choice [/in pantry]: figs, apricots, cranberries.
Add a little extra spice: nutmeg, all spice, rosemary [you could EVEN add cheddar - make them savoury?  Note: untested.  And most sacrilegious I know].
If you're daring topped with a little bacon and egg for brunch.