I adore hot cross buns and have always been quite happy to buy them. Admittedly, I am fussy about where I get them though, hot cross buns are not all made equal in the mainstream retail environment. I always try to find the extra fruity and spicy ones too.
That has now all changed.
I have made and mastered these easy and delicious stout hot cross buns, and now a supermarket version just pales in comparison. I based my recipe on Dan Lepard’s spiced stout buns, adapting it to suit my fruity taste buds and to use my favourite local stout which comes in a 340ml bottle. Castle Milk stout has a lovely flavour with hints of chocolate, so it works beautifully with these buns.
I adapted a few of the ingredients and the method slightly, I found that placing the dough in a warm sunny spot during the two long proving times helped to lighten them up. I also added a little more yeast which may have contributed to this too. I did however stick to the strange interval kneading routine, but would like to give them a bash doing it another way.
I added half cranberries and half raisins because I love the slight tartness the cranberries add, and I have also used 100g soft dried Turkish apricots which I finely chopped. A 100g of mixed citrus peel is essential to me and you can buy this already chopped.
I did a version adding two tablespoons of cocoa powder and this worked out really well, but on the whole I prefer a more traditional spiced bun.
The buns take a while to make in that you start the prep the night before, but the process is pretty effortless as they kind of make themselves. They are made by hand with very little kneading involved. I’m smitten.
If I’m not eating them straight out the oven, I love to toast them. Always served with lashings of butter melting right into the core of them.
Cooks note ~ I found making the paste that you pipe over the buns to make the crosses a little tricky. The flour and water mix tends to clump a bit. So I used an electric whisk to smooth this out and poured it into a plastic piping bag and cut to make a very small hole on the end. I found that none of my piping nozzles were the right size. It also gets quite messy, so you can just throw it all away once finished piping.
This recipe makes 16 – 18 buns, but any excess can be frozen. You can use a mix of raisins and cranberries or all of one or the other.
- 1 x 340ml bottle Castle Milk stout
- 2 tsp instant dry yeast
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1tsp mixed spice
- 870g flour (divided)
- 100g citrus peel
- 150g raisins
- 150g dried cranberries
- 100g soft dried apricots, finely chopped
- 250ml strong black tea
- 1 egg
- 50g melted butter
- 50g caster sugar (plus extra for glaze)
- 1 ½ tsp salt
Prepare the mix the night before by mixing the stout, spices, yeast and 320g of the flour in a large bowl. Mix to combine everything and leave uncovered.
Brew a strong cup of tea in 250ml boiling water and pour this over the raisins, dried cranberries, peel and apricots in a separate bowl.
The following day, mix the egg and melted butter with the fruit, and then stir this into this into beer and spice batter. Add the remaining 550g flour, sugar and salt. Tip this onto a work surface and briefly knead to form a large ball. Leave for 10 minutes. Lightly oil your hands and knead the dough for 10 seconds, leave for 10 minutes, then repeat twice more at 10-minute intervals, then leave for an hour covered with a tea towel in a warm spot.
Using a bread cutter or sharp knife, divide the dough into 100g pieces (use a scale to make this easier and to achieve consistency) and shape them into balls. Arrange these on a large baking tray lined with baking paper so they are just touching each other. Cover with a tea towel and place in a warm spot for 90 minutes.
Pre heat the oven before the proving has finished. Mix a little flour with water to form a runny paste consistency (use and electric whisk to get this smooth if necessary). Place in a plastic piping bag and cut a very small edge off the tip. Pipe crosses on each ball of dough. Bake at 200C (180C fan-assisted) for 25 minutes. If necessary, loosely cover with a sheet of tin foil to prevent over browning. Mix 2 tablespoons of castor sugar with 2 tablespoons of water and brush this over the hot cross buns as they come out the oven. Serve with lashings of butter.