These pillowy apple and cinnamon hot cross buns are soft, fluffy and springy with a good balance of spice and fruit. I can't taste or smell the apple in the buns which is disappointing to be honest. But I'm guessing the apple might have play a part in giving these buns the tender crumb.
I get a sense of satisfaction from being able to now make hot cross buns as good if not better than store-brought ones. The best part though is the aroma of cinnamon, mixed spice and fresh bread that fills the house while the buns are in the oven. It is the smell, I imagine, of lazy sunday and cozy morning.
Apple and Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns
(Adapted from Gourmet Traveller)
260 grams caster sugar
375 ml water
2 Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cored, diced
1 cinnamon quill
700 grams plain flour (more flour may be required, see method below.)
150 grams sultanas or golden raisins
50 grams dried apple, diced (I replaced with 50 grams sultanas)
30 grams candied orange, diced
14 grams instant dried yeast
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon all spice
65 grams caster sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Finely grated rind of 1 orange and 1 lemon
380 ml milk
100 grams butter, coarsely chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten, room temperature
50 grams plain flour
70 ml cold water
To make Syrup:
Combine sugar and water in a saucepan, then squeeze in juice of half a lemon and stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Meanwhile, cut remaining lemon half into 5mm-thick slices, add to pan with Granny Smith apple and cinnamon quill. Bring to the simmer, reduce heat to medium and cook until lemon and apple are translucent (20-25 minutes). Strain, reserving fruit and syrup separately. When cool enough to handle, dice lemon, combine with apple and set aside.
To make Buns:
Combine flour, sultanas, dried apple, candied orange, yeast, ground cinnamon, all spice, rinds, sugar, reserved apple mixture and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook.
Combine milk and butter in a small saucepan, warm over low heat until butter melts and mixture is lukewarm (about 38C). Add warm milk mixture and egg to flour mixture. Knead on low speed until you get a pliable elastic tacky dough. It should be sticky but not overly so. (Note: If the dough does not pull away from the sides of the bowl after 10 minutes, the dough is too sticky. Add 1/4 cup of flour, and continue to beat for 5 minutes. I find that sometimes I need to add between 50-100grams of flour depending on how well I strain the apple mixture.)
Place into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm draught-free place until doubled in size (40-60 minutes)
Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Punch dough down to its original size, divide into 20 even pieces, then knead each piece into a small ball. Place balls onto lined tray, about 1cm apart. Cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm draught-free place until buns double in size (about 40-60 minutes).
Preheat oven to 220C (200C fan-forced).
To make flour paste:
Combine flour and 70ml cold water in a bowl and stir to a smooth paste. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a small plain nozzle and pipe a cross shape onto each bun.
Bake for 10 minutes, reduce oven to 200C (180C fan-forced) and bake until golden and buns sound hollow when tapped (8-10 minutes).
Brush syrup thickly over hot buns. Transfer to wire rack to cool.