It’s a slippery-slope that first hot cross bun of the season. A steep descent towards carbohydrate-induced haze, but one I happily slide (earlier, and earlier) each year.

My mum makes the best hot cross buns (I’m sure I’m biased, but they really are good). She uses an old Nursing Mother’s Association recipe which works every time. This is my version of that recipe – using a combination of lovely tart apricots, sultanas and plenty of cinnamon

Apricot & sultana hot cross buns

(makes 16 buns)

Ingredients

100g dried apricots, roughly chopped
100g sultanas
250ml brewed tea, strong and hot (I use earl grey)
100g caster sugar
600g plain flour
½ tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
250ml full-cream milk, warm
14g instant yeast
60g melted unsalted butter
1 egg, lightly beaten

For the crosses:
3 tbsp self-raising flour
1 tsp caster sugar
50ml cold water

Glaze:
4 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp gelatine powder

Method

  1. Place apricots and sultanas in a medium bowl and pour over hot tea. Allow to stand for 30mins. Whilst you’re waiting, measure out all the other ingredients and grease a 25cm round or 20x30cm deep baking dish.
  2. Place flour, salt, cinnamon, and mixed spice in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and mix to combine.
  3. Add the instant yeast and 1 tsp of the caster sugar to the warm milk. Stir and set aside for a few minutes until yeast starts to foam. Drain the apricots and sultanas, reserving the tea soaking liquid.
  4. Add the yeast mixture, remaining sugar, melted butter, egg, dried fruit and 60ml reserved tea to the dry ingredients and mix on low until combined. Increase speed slightly on the mixer and mix on medium/low for 5 minutes or so, until the dough is smooth and elastic. (Depending on your flour, you may need to add a little extra flour or tea to the dough at this stage to get a nice smooth, elastic consistency.)
  5. Rest dough in a well-greased bowl covered with a damp tea towel somewhere warm for 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
  6. Preheat your oven to 180°C fan-forced. Knock dough down and divide into 16 evenly sized balls. Roll each slightly to shape and place close together in greased baking dish. Cover lightly in greased plastic wrap and allow to rest again until buns are light and risen – about 45 minutes.
  7. In a small bowl, mix ingredients for the crosses together to form a smooth paste. Place into a small piping bag with a plain nozzle, or use a small zip lock bag and snip a small hole in the end. Pipe crosses on the risen buns (or another pattern if that takes your fancy).
  8. Place hot cross buns in the oven to cook for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
  9. Whilst the buns are cooking, place all the ingredients for the glaze into a small saucepan, adding another 125ml of the reserved tea. When the buns have 10 minutes left on the timer, heat the glaze over low heat, until sugar and gelatine have dissolved. Let the glaze mixture simmer on a very low heat until buns are cooked.
  10. When the hot cross buns are cooked, remove from the oven and brush liberally with hot glaze. Let the glaze soak in slightly before giving them another coat for glistening good-measure!

Eat buns warm from the oven with a good slather of butter.