I love Easter. Not for the reasons you might think – I’m not religious and I don’t like chocolate (I feel like I’m failing the sisterhood every time I admit that) – but because of the special get-togethers with family. It’s a time when we take a break from work, sit around a table together and eat something magnificent that my dad has cooked. Lamb, if you’re reading this, please dad ;)
It’s also the time of year when I think it’s acceptable to start drinking Pimms, so there’s that, too.
Yep, for me Easter is all about food. Food, family, fun. It’s THE BEST.
Now, food-wise, my kids like eating hot cross buns from the beginning of March onwards. They beg me to buy them as soon as they see them on the shelves and I begrudgingly chuck them in the trolley, holding my nose as I toast them. It’s the dried fruit – I just can’t stand it!
So when Waitrose approached us to ask if we’d like to have a go at re-vamping the traditional hot cross bun, I jumped at the opportunity. Here’s my chance to get rid of all those sultanas…
To celebrate Easter, Waitrose are running a competition across their Social Media channels to find a new Hot Cross Bun flavour. It’s up to you to put forward your favourite; judges will narrow down the entries into a final three, which will be put to a vote across Waitrose’s Social Communities to determine the winner. Announced by the end of May 2016, the winner will receive a £500 Waitrose voucher with the runners up each receiving £100. And, most excitingly, the best entry will be made and sold in-store next Easter!
I bet you’re dying to know what my helpers and I came up with…
I had a chat with a couple of people to throw around some ideas for a new-fangled bun. My dad thought it would be an interesting idea to trial a savoury bun (erm…), and there were other ideas of chocolate with marshmallows. But in the end I decided on one of my all-time favourite flavour combinations: Apple, Cinnamon and Salted Caramel. Delicious.
Now, this recipe takes some doing. It’s fairly simple but requires three proves, so is best tackled on a day you’re at home for a couple of hours. It was the perfect afternoon activity for us this weekend, and we loved rewarding ourselves with a bun (or two!) afterwards. Let me know what you think!
For the Buns
- 300ml whole milk
- 500g strong white flour
- 75g caster sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 7g sachet fast-action yeast
- 50g butter
- 1 free-range egg, beaten
- 2 apples, cored and chopped
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- sunflower oil, for greasing the bowl
For the Cross
- 75g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 5 tbsp water
For the Salted Caramel Glaze
- 87g demerera sugar
- 150ml double cream
- 25g butter
- half a tsp salt
Bring the milk to the boil, then remove from the heat and leave to cool until it reaches hand temperature.
Mix the flour, sugar, salt, yeast, butter and egg together in a bowl, then slowly add the warmed milk until it forms a soft, sticky dough.
Add the apple and cinnamon, then tip out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough by holding the dough with one hand and stretching it with the heal of the other hand, then folding it back on itself. Repeat for five minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Alternatively, mix for three minutes on a medium speed with a dough hook.
Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with oiled cling film or a damp tea towel and leave to rise for approximately one hour, or until doubled in size.
Divide the dough into 12 even pieces, and roll each piece into a smooth ball on a lightly floured surface. Arrange the buns on a baking tray lined with parchment, leaving enough space so that the buns just touch when they rise and expand. Set aside to prove for another hour.
Heat the oven to 200C.
For the cross, mix the flour and water in small bowl, adding the water one tablespoon at a time, so that you add just enough for a thick paste. Spoon into a piping bag with a small nozzle (I’d ran out of piping bags so used a sandwich bag with a hole snipped in the corner). Pipe a line along each row of buns, then repeat in the other direction to create crosses.
Bake for 20-25 minutes on the middle shelf of the oven, or until golden-brown. Place on a wire rack to cool.
- While the buns are cooking, prepare the glaze. Heat all ingredients together until gently bubbling, and cook for around 5 minutes, stirring all the while. Leave to cool for 10 minutes and spoon over the buns.
Big thank-yous to Waitrose for continuing to work with MTT!