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What’s cooking today: Hot cross buns in your air fryer

What’s cooking today: Hot cross buns in your air fryer
Tony Jackman’s air fryer hot cross buns. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Few things that you make are going to impress your friends as much as producing your very own hot cross buns. Then, tell them you did them in the air fryer and they may even swoon.

No, not the bad but nevertheless funny kiddies’ joke about what you get when you pour boiling water down a rabbit hole. Actual hot cross buns, done in your air fryer. Yes, we can.

Speaking of rabbit holes, a quick google confirmed that there is an international shortage of air fryer recipes for hot cross buns, so we seem to be ahead of the game here. I went in with some trepidation, adapting my own recipe for cooking them in a conventional oven to an air fryer. I cooked them a few minutes at a time, keeping a beady eye. In the end they turned out so pleasingly that I literally whooped with joy.

For an air fryer it’s wise to use foil trays, and whatever size you choose depends on the dimensions of your air fryer basket, so I cannot advise you precisely. So, measure its dimensions before you shop for them and take a tape measure with you to be sure they’ll fit.

My air fryer has twin drawers so I had to use loaf foil trays, which worked just fine.

(Makes about 12, depending on size)

Ingredients

500 g cake wheat flour

1 level tsp salt

5 level Tbsp/ 75 g castor sugar

10 g packet of instant yeast

1 egg

75 g golden sultanas

75 g seeded raisins

300 g full-cream milk

60 g butter

1 apple, grated

Zest of 1 orange

Zest of 1 lemon

1 scant tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp nutmeg

¼ tsp ground cloves

¼ tsp mixed spice

4 or 5 Tbsp apricot jam

Foil tins that fit inside your air fryer basket

Method

Tony Jackman’s air fryer hot cross buns. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Heat 300 ml full-cream milk in a pot and stir in 60 g butter. Leave it to cool for 15 minutes.

Sift 500 g cake wheat flour into a baking bowl and stir in 1 tsp salt, 5 Tbsp castor sugar and, once the first two have been stirred in, the 10 g of instant yeast.

Make a well in the centre and pour in the milk/butter. Add a beaten egg and fold with a wooden spoon, then work it with floured hands until you have a rather wet dough.

Flour a clean surface and knead the dough for five minutes with floured hands; it will come together and become more dough-like, less slippery, as you work. You’ll need to sprinkle a little flour on as you work; just gauge this using your common sense, and don’t get carried away with adding flour or your buns will be too dense.

Put the oven on for five minutes, then turn it off. Oil a clean bowl, put the dough in it, cover with a damp towel and put it in the slightly warmed oven to rise for 60 minutes. Or choose another warm place. There’s your first rise. It should double.

While it’s having its first rise, weigh the sultanas and raisins and put them in a bowl. Add to it the grated orange and lemon zest, the grated apple and the spices.

After the rise, remove it from the turned-off oven and add the above measured ingredients all at once. Work them thoroughly into the dough with your hands, then cover again with a damp towel and return to the turned-off oven (or other suitable warm place) for another hour.

It should now double in size, or even more. My batch “grew” massively.

After the second rise, flour a clean working surface and turn out the dough onto it. Use cooking oil spray to grease the bottoms of your foil tins.

You now need to divide the dough into as many pieces as you think your tin trays will hold. I did it by eye. You’ll have smaller or larger buns depending on how this works out (especially if, like me, your tin trays were differing sizes). It matters not as they will cook either way. I ended up with buns of slightly different shapes and sizes. It makes your hot cross bun life more interesting. And you will need to cook them in batches.

Once you’ve divided the dough into a number of pieces, roll them up while also rolling each clump in a little flour so they don’t attach to your hands.

To make the crosses, mix 5 Tbsp flour with about 4 Tbsp water. You want a thick paste and a piping bag. I fashioned one from a small freezer bag, cutting a small hole in one corner. Pipe it all the way down each row of buns in the middle from one end of the tray to the other, then all the way across, for every row. Make more if you run out.

Preheat the air fryer at 160℃ for 5 minutes.

Set the air fryer to 160℃ and cook for 5 minutes. 

Beat an egg.

Remove the basket from the air fryer and brush the buns with the egg wash.

Cook for 3 minutes more at 160℃.

Melt the apricot jam and brush it on.

Cook for 2 minutes more at 160℃.

Remove and allow to cool.

If having them for breakfast on Good Friday with butter, jam and cream, as is the tradition in our household, first halve them and toast them, and you can do that in your air fryer too. DM

Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Writer 2023, jointly with TGIFood columnist Anna Trapido. Order his book, foodSTUFF, here

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks.

This dish is photographed on a plate by Mervyn Gers Ceramics.

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