According to our sources, the phones at Gail's have been ringing off the hook with requests to find out when its legendary hot-cross buns will be back in the bakery. We've tried them ourselves and we can say we're surprised – these buttery, fruit-packed bad boys are utterly delicious. Can't wait? Want more? Here's the recipe so you can make them yourselves at home.
For the buns
- 20g fresh yeast
- 1 tbsp whole milk
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 400g plain flour
- 0.5 tsp ground cinnamon
- 0.5 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 200ml whole milk
- 70g caster sugar
- 1 large egg
- 70g soft unsalted butter (cut the cold butter into 2cm cubes and leave at room temperature for an hour before using)
- 40g sultanas
- 40g dry currants
- 40g dried unsweetened cranberries
- 70g mixed peel
- 0.5 tsp fine sea salt
- 200g plain flour
- 230g icing sugar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp milk
- 300g caster sugar
- 200g water
- 1 whole nutmeg
- 1 whole star anise
- 1 whole clove
- 0.5 vanilla pod split in half lengthwise
- To make the buns, melt the yeast with a tablespoon of whole milk and a teaspoon of caster sugar in a large mixing bowl. Make sure the yeast has completely dissolved and leave for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, you should notice mini bubbles on top of your yeast liquid: that means your yeast is alive.
- In a separate bowl, sieve the flour with the spices.
- Add the spiced flour to the yeast mixture. Keep adding the rest of the milk, the sugar and egg.
- Begin to bind the mixture together using your hands for 4-5 minutes until it forms a rough dough, and then add the butter a chunk at a time whilst kneading the dough.
- After adding all the butter slowly – it should take around 2-3 minutes – you will have a nice sticky dough. Continue kneading for 5 minutes more until you get a smooth, shiny dough.
- Add the salt and fruits and continue kneading for 3 minutes more.
- Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave at room temperature for 1.5 hours, until it grows to almost double in size.
- Pour your dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 20 pieces at 50g each. Roll the dough pieces into shape by rolling them on a surface against your palms to create smooth buns.
- Arrange the buns on a baking tray lined with a baking paper (all the buns onto one tray) and make sure you keep an even gap between them all. Cover the tray with a clean tea towel and leave to rise at room temperature until almost double in size.
- When the buns are ready (the sides of each bun should be touching and you almost shouldn’t be able see the tray) make an eggwash by whisking 1 whole egg, 1 egg yolk and a teaspoon of milk. Brush the buns carefully with this eggwash and leave to dry out for 10 minutes. Brush again.
- Pre heat the oven to 200°C.
- To make the cross topping, gently combine all the ingredients into a smooth paste using a hand whisk.
- Fill a plastic piping bag with the topping mixture and cut a small hole using scissors. Always cut a smaller hole than you think you might need as you can cut it again to make a bigger hole – but you can’t make a big hole smaller!
- Pipe thin crosses on top of the buns on the tray and pop it into the hot oven.
- Immediately, reduce the oven temp to 180°C until thoroughly baked and golden (around 20-22 minutes).
- While the buns are cooking, make the syrup. Put all the syrup ingredients in a small saucepan and over a low heat bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
- Once the sugar has dissolved completely, increase the heat and simmer for couple of minutes until you have a syrupy consistency.
- Remove from the heat and fish the spices out.
- Once the buns are ready, take them out of the oven and carefully brush them with the hot syrup.
- Leave to cool for 15 minutes before serving.