Why not have a go at making these apple, honey and sultana hot cross buns?

This recipe is a twist on classic hot cross buns, studded with apples, topped with apple and streusel, and finished with a white chocolate cross. They're the perfect Easter treat and sure to make an impression.

This recipe makes 8 buns.

Ingredients

For the milk sponge (the night before)

  • 75g bread flour
  • 1/2g g fresh yeast
  • 75g milk

For the dough

  • 175g bread flour
  • 13g fresh yeast
  • 3g salt
  • 37g butter, room temperature, cubed
  • 37g honey
  • 75g water
  • 20g egg, beaten
  • 6g fresh orange zest
  • 6g fresh lemon zest
  • 75g sultanas
  • 75g dried apples
  • 6g mixed spice

To top the buns

  • 1-2 eating apples, sliced

Stresuel topping

  • 50g butter, fridge cold, cubed
  • 50g plain flour
  • 50g sugar
  • 25g ground hazelnuts

White chocolate crosses

  • 50g white chocolate

To finish

  • 1-2 tbsp honey, for glazing
  • Icing sugar, to dust

Instructions

Make the milk sponge 

  1. The night before you make the dough, you will need to make you 'milk sponge'. In a pan, gently warm the milk then stir in the fresh yeast before adding the bread flour. Mix by hand with a wooden spoon until evenly mixed. Cover and leave overnight (or least 12 hours) in ambient temperature.

Make the dough

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the milk sponge, bread flour, fresh yeast, salt, water, and egg. Knead until smooth - you can do this by hand or using a spiral mixer.
  2. Knead in the butter and honey until smooth, soft and elastic, then add the fruit and mixed spice making sure everything is evenly distributed.
  3. Place the dough into a lightly oiled container, cover and leave to ferment for approximately 60-90 minutes or until the volume has doubled.

Make the streusel

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. While the dough is proving, make the streusel by rubbing the cold butter and flour together until a sandy texture is acheived. You can also do this in a food processor, if you wish, but be sure to pulse only briefly or the heat from the motor will soften the butter.
  3. Stir in the sugar and ground hazelnuts.  
  4. Spread the mixture on a tray and bake for 10-15 until golden brown. Allow to cool, then crumble to a coarse consistency.

Shape the buns

  1. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. You can do this by eye, or use scales for a precise result. It's important that your portions are equal so that they bake at the same speed in the oven.
  2. Shape each piece of dough into a ball by folding from the edge to the centre repeatedly and then turning over to give a taut, smooth surface.
  3. Place the buns in sets of 4, with some space between them on lined baking trays. Cover with lightly oiled food wrap and leave to prove somewhere warm, such as an airing cupboard, for 1 hour.

Make the white chocolate crosses

  1. While the buns are proving, line a tray with baking paper.
  2. Melt the white chocolate and transfer to a piping bag. Snip a tiny piece of the end to allow you to pipe finely, then pipe 8 crosses onto the tray, each about about 3-5cm wide.
  3. Place the tray in the fridge to set for an hour.

Bake the buns

  1. Turn the oven up to 230°C and once up to temp, place the buns in oven. 
  2. When the buns look almost baked, but still pale - around the 8-10 minute mark - remove them from the oven and place a slice of fresh apple on top of each one.
  3. Continue to bake for a total of 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Decorate the buns

  1. When the buns are freshly out of the oven, brush them all over with honey (loosened with a little hot water if it is too thick), then sprinkle the streusel on top.
  2. Place the white chocolate crosses on top of your streusel - they will soften in the residual heat and stick to the tops.
  3. Finish with a dusting of icing sugar.