When we think of this time of the year, especially around Easter, it is common for our minds to jump to blooming flowers, warmer weather and the promise of summer! Having just enjoyed a bank holiday weekend full of fun with family and friends, we think it is about time to do a spot of baking. When it comes to kitchen accessories we are all guilty of not replacing them until they are on their absolute last legs. However, more often than not, these items are about more than just practicality. When styling your kitchen, these products can really pull the room together and maintain the overall look you are wanting to achieve. If you are working with a country or even minimalist space then the vintage scale is not only an accurate measurement tool but a stylish addition that will look great out on display. Available in a variety of shapes and colours, this product is dynamic and will work to fit virtually any kitchen design.
Viewed as a traditional favourite, particularly during the Easter period, hot cross buns are a lovely first recipe to try out with the new vintage scales. Though this choice may take slightly longer than other options, the end result will be incredibly rewarding!
For the buns
625g/1.3lb strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground mixed spice
45g/1.5 oz unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus extra for greasing
1 lemon, zest only
1½ tsp fast-action yeast
1 free-range egg
275ml/10fl oz tepid milk
125g/4oz mixed dried fruit
For the topping
2 tbsp plain flour
vegetable oil, for greasing
1 tbsp golden syrup, gently heated, for glazing
1. For the buns, sieve the flour, salt and ground mixed spice into a large mixing bowl, then rub in the butter using your fingertips. Make a well in the centre of the mixture and add the sugar, lemon zest and yeast.
2. Beat the egg and add this to the flour with the warm milk. Mix together to form a soft, malleable dough.
3. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Carefully work the mixed dried fruit into the dough until well combined. Knead lightly for 5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.
4. Place the ball of dough into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean tea towel. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until dough doubles in size.
5. Turn out the proved dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knock back the dough. Shape it into a ball again and return it to the bowl, then cover again and set aside for a further 30 minutes to rise.
6. Turn out the dough onto the surface and divide it into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then flatten slightly into a bun shape. Cover the buns again and set aside to rest for 5-10 minutes.
7. Grease a baking tray with butter and transfer the buns to the tray. Wrap the tray with the buns loosely in greaseproof paper, then place inside a large polythene bag. Tie the end of the bag tightly so that no air can get in and set aside in a warm place for a further 40 minutes to rise.
8. Preheat the oven to 240C/475F/Gas 8.
9. Meanwhile, for the topping, whisk the plain flour to a smooth paste with 2 tablespoons of cold water.
10. When the buns have risen, remove the polythene bag and the greaseproof paper. Add the flour mixture into a piping bag and pipe a cross on each bun.
11. Place the individual buns in the oven and bake for 8-12 minutes, or until pale golden-brown. As soon as you remove them from the oven, brush the buns with the hot golden syrup, then set aside to cool on a wire rack.
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