No Easter is complete without a soft, sticky hot cross bun that's been slathered in butter. Traditionally served on Good Friday, we love these spiced, fruity buns any day of the week: For breakfast, with a cup of tea in the afternoon, as a sandwich for lunch, or even for pudding. It's the ultimate Easter treat and just when you thought they couldn't get any better, well, it turns out that they can!
Take your hot cross buns to the next level of deliciousness, with our simple additions and unexpected ingredients. From how to use up those stale leftovers to a savoury twist you'll love, these pimped-up hot cross buns will have the whole family queuing up for seconds... And thirds!
1. Add some spice
Make like Nigella, and add a few extra spices to your buns. Nigella likes to infuse the milk in her recipe with cardamom pods, but you could just as easily add a few cinnamon sticks or cloves to the milk. Or why not sprinkle the bread dough with some ground nutmeg, a pinch of saffron or a teaspoon of mixed spice? Delish.
2. Get fruity
Sultanas are traditional, but there's really no limit to what types of fruit you can add to your hot cross buns. Adding a chopped apple to the dough is a great way to add more moisture to the buns, and some zesty orange and lemon peel gives them a lovely flavour. Try soaking dried fruit like figs, prunes and cranberries in water or juice (or booze for an adults-only treat!) for thirty minutes before cooking for a rich and tasty twist.
3. Experiment with glaze
A simple sugar and water mix will do, but why not have some fun glossing your buns and experimenting with different toppings? You could try a combination of water and runny honey, sweet apricot jam or golden syrup. Then while the buns are sticky, scatter some extra treats like chocolate sprinkles, candied fruit or chopped nuts. Have fun with it!
4. Think outside the bun
Who said that hot cross buns need to be soft and round? Get all those lovely flavours of Easter in a hot cross loaf cake that's perfect for toasting and slathering with butter, or skip the yeast entirely with heavenly hot cross rock cakes (seen above).
5. Go crazy for chocolate
Chocolate and hot cross buns are a winning combo, whether you add a tablespoon of cocoa to the dough or sprinkle in a few chocolate chips on top, and top with melted white chocolate for the cross as the final touch. You could even incorporate your favourite choccie treat into the dough – creme egg hot cross bun, anyone?
6. Better butter
Didn't think that toasted hot cross buns slathered in butter could get any better? Try pimping your butter. It's so simple to do and will have everyone 'ooo-ing' and 'aaa-ing' as they try to figure out what's so different about your loaves. Try adding a few tablespoons of runny honey or maple syrup to butter, or spicing it up with some ground cinnamon. Fruit lovers should try incorporating a few tablespoons of dried cherries and apricots to softened butter for a real treat. Yum!
7. Make savoury, not sweet buns
Traditionalists might want to look away for this tip! We love a sweet, sticky bun but try something different by whipping up a savoury batch to eat alongside your Easter lunch. To make, simply replace the fruit in your buns with cheese (cheddar works well) and top with more grated cheese, or even two slices of bacon for the cross. Daring, but delicious!
8. Love your leftovers
Give stale hot cross buns a new lease of life by dishing up a tasty bread and butter pudding. Or why not make eggy bread for an Easter Monday breakfast treat? In fact, it might be worth making extra buns just to ensure you'll have enough left over...