These sultana, lemon and thyme hot cross buns have a lighter flavour than a traditional hot cross bun. The fruit of choice are plump sultanas and the dough is lightly fragranced with lemon zest, juice and just a hint of thyme.
I love hot cross buns. To me they are an essential part of Easter, I might even love them more than I do Easter Eggs. Which is probably a good thing as I rarely get any Easter eggs these days. Mr B says I eat too much chocolate anyway (he is probably right about that)! Still, I won't forgo hot cross buns and I probably indulge in a few more of those than I should in the period around Easter.
As the daughter of a baker, I used to help out in the bakery and the crosses on large trays of hot cross buns were probably one of the first things I learnt to pipe. So eating a hot cross bun brings back happy childhood memories too, what's not to love about growing up in a bakery. It is hard to beat a classic sweetly spicy hot cross bun so it was one of my early recipes shared on my 1st blog Recipes Made Easy you can find my recipe for these classic buns here. Each year I have added a variation such as Pecan and Cranberry Hot Cross Buns and last year I made Sourdough Hot Cross Buns.
Now that I am writing Only Crumbs, I'm sharing this year's variation here. And its a really good one even if I say so myself. Plump sultanas give the right degree of fruitiness to the buns and the dough itself has a light lemon flavour with just a hint of thyme. I'm not sure you can pick out the flavour of the thyme as such but it definitely helps lift the overall flavour to the next level.
How to Make Hot Cross Buns
Hot Cross Buns are yeasted sweet buns. The dough is enriched with the addition of butter and egg which gives it a soft richer crumb. If you use a mixer to make these you may prefer to add the fruit after the first proving and before shaping. Over-mixing can cause the fruit to get broken down. That said I find these are easy enough to mix by hand and you do do not have to really work the dough, just the light kneading will do it, so its not hard work.
Once the dough has proved (doubled in size) it is then knocked back and divided into 12 equal pieces which are then rolled into balls and place onto a baking sheet to rise a second time.
Just before baking I make a simple flour and water paste and this is then used to pipe the crosses and the buns go into the oven.
When the buns are out of the oven I sometimes make a sugar glaze but for these, a brushing of runny honey complements the flavour of the bun perfectly.
These buns are perfect served with butter but I for one can eat them warm from the oven as they are. Best eaten within 24 hours of baking an older bun is also delicious served toasted.
Step by Step Sultana, Lemon and Thyme Hot Cross Buns
Sultana, Lemon and Thyme Hot Cross Buns
For the buns
- 500 g strong bread flour
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 7 g sachet easy-blend yeast
- 60 g caster sugar
- 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 1¼ tsp salt
- 50 g butter
- 100 g sultanas
- grated zest of 1 lemon
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 large egg beaten
- 175 – 200ml luke warm water
For the crosses
- 50 g plain flour
- cold water to mix
For the glaze
- 1 – 2 tbsp runny honey
To make the buns
- Place the flour, cinnamon, yeast, sugar ,thyme and salt into a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Rub in the butter with your fingertips, then stir in the sultanas and lemon zest. Make a well in the centre.
- Add the lemon juice, egg, and most of the water. Mix to a soft, slightly sticky dough, adding the remaining water if required.
- Turn out the dough and knead gently for 5 minutes, until the dough becomes less sticky. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to lightly coat the dough in the oil. Cover and leave in a warm place to rise for about 1½ hours, or until doubled in size.
- Turn out, and lightly knead again. Divide the dough into 12 pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Place on a greased baking sheet about 2cm apart. Cover with a damp tea towel or slip the tray inside a carrier bag. Leave in a warm place until doubled in size which should take about 50 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 190℃(170℃ Fan)/375°F /gas mark 5.
To make the crosses
- Place the flour into a small bowl and stir in enough water to mix to a smooth paste. Spoon the mixture into a disposable piping bag and snip of the end. Pipe a cross on each bun.
- Bake for 20 -25 minutes until risen and golden.
- Once the buns are cooked transfer to a wire rack and brush the tops of the buns with a little honey.
- large bag or oiled cling wrap to cover
- disposable piping bag or piping bag fitted with a large writing nozzle
- pastry brush
Cook's TipsIf using an electric mixer to mix the dough, add the fruit after the 1st prooving, before shaping into buns. Mix in the fruit by hand until evenly distributed through the dough.
StoreFreeze for up to 2 month. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight and warm in the oven at 180℃ (160℃ fan)/350°F/gas mark 4 for 5 minutes.
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