MasterChef Cookery Course: hot cross buns

These delicious spiced and fruity hot cross buns are great treat anytime of year - but are the perfect start to the Easter holiday weekend.

These delicious treats are too good to keep just for Easter: knead in the dried fruit so that each spicy bun will be full of sweet fruit

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Initial proving time: 2 hours
Kneading: 5 minutes
Proving time: 1-2 hours
Baking time: 20 minutes

Makes 10–12 buns

Ingredients:

* 200ml (7floz) milk
* 50g unsalted butter
* 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
* 2 tsp dried yeast
* 100g caster sugar
* 500g strong white flour, sifted, plus extra for dusting
* 1 tsp salt
* 2 tsp mixed spice
* 1 tsp ground cinnamon
* 1 egg, beaten, plus extra beaten egg for glazing
* 150g mixed dried fruit such as raisins, sultanas, and mixed peel
* vegetable oil, for greasing

For the paste:

* 3 tbsp plain flour
* 3 tbsp caster sugar

Method:

1. Heat the milk, butter, and vanilla extract in a pan until the butter has just melted. Cool until tepid. Whisk in the dried yeast and one tablespoon of sugar. Leave for 10 minutes or until frothy.

2. Put the remaining sugar, flour, salt, and spices into a bowl. Mix in the egg. Add the milk mixture and form a dough. Knead on a floured surface for ten minutes or until smooth and elastic. Press the dough out into a rectangle, scatter over the dried fruit, and knead briefly to combine.

3. Shape into a ball, place in an oiled bowl, and cover with cling film. Leave to rise in a warm place for one to two hours or until doubled in size. Knock back to deflate, then divide into 10–12 pieces and roll into balls.

4. Place them on baking sheets lined with baking parchment. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for one to two hours or until doubled in size.

5. Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F/gas 7). Brush the buns with beaten egg to glaze.

6. To make the paste, mix the flour and sugar with enough water to make a spreadable consistency. Put the paste into a piping bag and pipe a cross on top of each bun, as directed below.

7. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until risen and golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.
 

Cook's tip: You can use a piping bag fitted with a fine nozzle, or a small disposable piping bag with the tip cut off. The paste should be thin enough to be piped, but not runny. Pipe a straight line across the centre of the top, then pipe a second line at right angles to this.

MasterChef Cookery Course, published by DK, £26, dk.com. Also available as an eBook to download from the iBookstore and Amazon Kindle Store. MasterChef continues on BBC.

More recipes from MasterChef Cookery course:
*Chocolate fondant
*Fish Pie

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