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Better baking: spelt hot cross buns

Better baking: spelt hot cross buns

Here at healthy, we’re all for a treat every now and then, and Easter is no exception. While the spelt in place of white flour in these hot cross buns is a healthier option, trust us when we say this is done primarily for flavour.

Spelt is an ancient form of wheat which many people find easier to digest than modern varieties, which are often highly refined. Using a mixture of wholemeal and white spelt flour results in a slightly firmer texture and a rich nutty flavour (you can use just white flour if you prefer). These will freeze very well; just split before freezing, defrost and then toast. 

Spelt hot cross buns
Makes 12

300g wholemeal spelt flour
200g white spelt flour
1 tbsp easy bake yeast
1 tsp cinnamon
1⁄2 tsp allspice
1 tsp fine salt
75g golden caster sugar
75g dried currants (or a mix of dried fruits, like cranberries and blueberries)
3 tbsp chopped dried mixed peel
Zest of 1⁄2 an orange
250ml warm milk
75g soft butter, cubed
1 egg

For the egg wash:
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp water

For the crosses:
50g plain flour
Pinch baking powder
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Cold water

For the glaze:
2 tbsp boiling water
2 tbsp caster sugar

1 In a large bowl, mix the flours, yeast, spices, salt, sugar, currants, mixed peel and orange zest. Stir well. Add milk, butter and egg; use a spatula to mix it together, to form a soft dough – you may need to add a little more white spelt flour if it’s really sticky. Tip the soft dough out on to a clean floured surface, and, using floured hands, knead it for 5 mins. Or use a mixer with a dough hook, but for only 3 mins.

2 Put the dough in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to rise and double in size: about 2 hours.

3 Once the dough has risen, tip on to a clean floured surface again and knock back, by gently punching out the air. Divide into 12 equal pieces. Shape each into a round, then use your hands to roll each one into a really neat, smooth ball. Line a large baking sheet with baking paper and grease it lightly with butter. Arrange dough balls on the sheet, leaving a 2cm gap between them. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave somewhere warm to rise again, for about an hour.

4 When ready, they will have increased in size and be touching each other. Preheat oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas mark 7.

5 For the egg wash, mix the egg and water; brush buns thoroughly with it. While the wash dries, make the crosses: mix the flour, baking powder and oil, with enough cold water to make a thick paste. Put into a piping bag fitted with a medium nozzle. Practise piping a few straight lines, then slowly pipe a continuous line of paste along the centre of one row of buns. Follow the rise and fall of the dough so the paste sits neatly on top of each one, from side to side. Repeat on all the vertical and horizontal rows. Bake for 10-15 mins, until the buns are golden and sound hollow when tapped on the base.

6 Remove from oven and cool slightly. While cooling, make the glaze: mix the water and sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Brush buns gently with the mix. Eat warm, or split and toasted, with butter.

Did you know chocolate could help lower your risk of developing heart disease? Check out the seven surprising health benefits of chocolate, here. 


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