There is nothing like a hot cross bun (or two) at Easter to make up for the privations of Lent. As ever St Albans is at the heart of tradition, the creation of hot cross buns is said to have originated in the city. A monk at St Albans Abbey named Brother Thomas Roecliffe came up with the recipe in the 14th century and distributed the buns to the poor on Good Friday starting in 1381. The Alban Bun is still part of the tradition of the city made at the historic Redbournbury Mill. They have remained faithful to the original recipe, which is still a closely guarded secret. But if you fancy having a go at making your own bun this Easter the BBC Easy Hot cross bun recipe might be a good place to start.
For the buns you will need:
500g strong white bread flour
½ tsp salt
2 heaped tsp mixed spice
50g caster sugar
200g mixed dried fruit
7g sachet easy-blend dried yeast
200ml of milk and 2 eggs.
For the crosses & glaze you will need:
3 tbsp plain flour and honey for brushing
To make, tip the flour into a bowl and stir in the salt, mixed spice and sugar. Before rubbing in the butter with your fingertips. Stir in the dried fruit, then sprinkle over the yeast and stir in. Gently warm the milk hot enough to put your finger in for a couple of seconds. Beat the milk with the eggs, then pour into the dried ingredients and mix the ingredients into moist dough before leaving it to soak for 5 mins. Then take the dough out of the bowl and cut it into 8 equal pieces.
Shape them into buns on a floured surface. Space apart on a baking sheet, cover loosely with cling film, then leave in a warm place until half again in size. This will take 45 mins-1 hr 15 mins. When the buns are risen, heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Mix the flour with 2 tbsp water to make a paste. Pour into a plastic food bag and make a nick in one of the corners. Pipe crosses on top of each bun. Bake for 12-15 mins until risen and golden. Finally brush all over with honey so they shine.