Yup, it's Easter. And while many of my friends and family are off to religious gatherings / camping / otherwise occupied with Eastery things, I'm baking.

What would Easter be without hot cross buns? ;-)

I used this recipe, but made a few changes along the way. Having done a fair bit of bread and yeast-type baking in the past few years, I changed the method - wet ingredients mixed together, raisins soaked in hot water before adding (to plump them up so they're not all dry and hard), and then beat in the flour one cup at a time. Why? Well it reduces kneading time considerably as the gluten's already forming while you beat flour and wet ingredients together.

One rise later, they were rolled into the pan and crossed off, then stuck at the back of the stove to rise again. The oven had been going great guns - a cheese and mushroom quiche was just done baking.

By the time the focaccia had cooked, the hot cross buns were ready to go in. 5 minutes into the process I got quite a fright - the crosses had disappeared! But they came back later as the buns baked and browned, and they came out of the oven ready to eat just as the last of lunch was swallowed.

Naturally, one bite and I started adjusting the recipe. They're definitely not as refined as the shop-bought stuff - the texture's coarser. They could have baked 3 minutes less to get a more doughy consistency. And the sugar content needed increasing.

So here's the adjusted recipe, courtesy me:

Hot Cross Buns

4-6 cups cake flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 - 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 sachet instant dry yeast
1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
1 extra large egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cups sultanas (or mixed raisins) - soaked in boiling water to cover, then drained
3 Tbs smooth apricot jam
1/2 cup cake flour
4 tsp castor sugar
cold water - enough to make a pipeable paste

1. Melt butter/margarine, mix in hand-hot milk, beat in egg, spices, yeast, sugar and raisins.

2. Beat in 1 cup of flour, continue adding flour 1 cup at a time until you have a stiff enough dough that you can throw it out the bowl and knead it - but not too stiff.

3. Knead on a floured surface until smooth but not too stiff and dry. Roll in a lightly oiled bowl to coat, then cover with a plastic shopping bag and let it rise until double in a warm place (the car out in the sun is good..).

4. Once risen, turn out, roll roughly into a "sausage" and slice into 16. Roll each into a sphere and pack into your greased / sprayed baking tray.

5. For paste: Mix all ingredients to a smooth paste. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a small tube, and pipe crosses onto buns.

6. Bake at 200ÂșC for 20 minutes. Brush tops with hot jam while buns are still hot.

Very edible smothered in butter, jam and cheese - microwave the leftovers briefly next day to return them to their former glory and decrease any cooled-down-rock-hard effect.

Market Signals