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Photograph: Shutterstock/Time Out
Photograph: Shutterstock/Time Out

Top London bakers’ tips for making perfect hot cross buns

Try them out this weekend. It's not like you have any better plans

Written by
Kate Lloyd

Like all baked goods with raisins in (see: Christmas cake, Eccles cakes and pain aux raisin) hot cross buns can be divisive. To some, they're a perfectly good breakfast snack RUINED by soggy globules of dried-grape snot. To others, they're the quintessential sign that spring is well on its way: light, fruity, spicy and festive. If you're firmly in the latter camp, you might be surprised to know that they aren't too hard to make at home. In fact, there are loads of basic recipes online. Try this one, for example. But if you want to make extra, extra special buns? You need advice the pros. Luckily we've got that very advice right here – and it's from some of London's best bakers, no less. 

1. Claire Ptak, Violet Cakes

‘I always candy my own citrus peel. It makes such an amazing difference to the flavour of the buns.’

2. Daisy Terry, The Dusty Knuckle

‘We use buttermilk in place of milk in the recipe, it helps to get that super-soft texture and is extra-delicious. Mix your soaked fruit and candied peel with your spices before you add it to the dough. Cinnamon can do weird stuff to your yeast and weve found that this way it mixes in with the fruit and doesn’t seem to affect the fermentation so much. And, finally, make your crossing paste ahead of time and add a small bit of oil to the mix. It will pipe much easier that way. Definitely dont keep it in the fridge: learnt that one the hard way.’ The Dusty Knuckle is doing deliveries from April 14. 

3. Fergus Jackson, Brick House

‘For me, the perfect hot cross bun is light, soft and sticky. To get that I use a 50/50 mix of strong white bread flour and plain flour, which should give you a softer dough. If your recipe calls for milk, scald it before you add it. By taking it to boiling point and then cooling it, it denatures certain proteins in the milk that can inhibit the rise of the dough, and should also give a more tender crumb. Finally, dont bother making a sugar syrup for your buns, just warm some golden syrup in a pan and brush that over your warm buns for the perfect sticky finish.’ Brick House is selling sourdough starter kits online. 

4. Matthew Jones, Bread Ahead

‘My tips are simply: for best results make the dough the night before and always use plenty of extra fruit.’
Find out about London's best bakeries.  

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