For the dough
- 450g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
Flour is usually made from grinding wheat, maize, rye, barley or rice. As the main…
- 2 x 7g sachets easy-blend yeast
Yeast is a living, single-cell organism. As the yeast grows, it converts its food (in the form…
- 50g caster sugar
- 150ml warm milk
One of the most widely used ingredients, milk is often referred to as a 'complete' food…
- 1 egg, beaten
The ultimate convenience food, eggs are powerhouses of nutrition packed with protein and a…
- 50g unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
- oil, for greasing
The spices and dried fruit
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp mixed spice
- ¼ tsp grated nutmeg
One of the most useful of spices for both sweet and savoury…
- 100g currant
- 4 tbsp plain flour
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
Put the flour, yeast, caster sugar and 1 tsp salt into a large mixing bowl with the spices and dried fruit and mix well. Make a well in the centre and pour in the warm milk, 50ml warm water, the beaten egg and the melted butter. Mix everything together to form a dough – start with a wooden spoon and finish with your hands. If the dough is too dry, add a little more warm water; if it’s too wet, add more flour.
Knead in the bowl or on a floured surface until the dough becomes smooth and springy. Transfer to a clean, lightly greased bowl and cover loosely with a clean, damp tea towel. Leave in a warm place to rise until roughly doubled in size – this will take about 1 hr depending on how warm the room is.
Tip the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for a few secs, then divide into 12 even portions – I roll my dough into a long sausage shape, then quarter and divide each quarter into 3 pieces. Shape each portion into a smooth round and place on a baking sheet greased with butter, leaving some room between each bun for it to rise.
Use a small, sharp knife to score a cross on the top of each bun, then cover with the damp tea towel again and leave in a warm place to prove for 20 mins until almost doubled in size again. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.
When the buns are ready to bake, mix the plain flour with just enough water to give you a thick paste. Spoon into a piping bag (or into a plastic food bag and snip the corner off) and pipe a white cross into the crosses you cut earlier. Bake for 12-15 mins until the buns are golden and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. While still warm, melt the granulated sugar with 1 tbsp water in a small pan, then brush over the buns.
More Easter bakingOnce you’ve mastered these simple buns, you can use the same dough to make James's teatime Chelsea buns and delicious fruit loaf (see 'Goes well with') – just mix up the spices a bit and swap the currants for other dried fruits and nuts.