NOT Cross Buns

OK this is THE home of the Not Cross Bun. This is a world first…I googled it and they didn’t show up elsewhere so this absolutely MUST be true. 

Having seen how tricky it is applying the faces I can see why no-one else has bothered but it is a lot of fun making them. Who wouldn’t want to end up with buns like these…ooer Missus.

Instead of cheery buns you could of course make some very cross ones indeed depending on your mood (or who they are for). But I like happy ones… even in the toaster they look happy though the “nose-free” ones survived better. The one I tried toasting with a nose left it behind when it popped up – it was quite sad really. I seem to have a ghost car in this photo if you look closely and I still can’t figure out how it got in there as there are no cars in my kitchen…generally speaking anyway.

This recipe makes 14 soft slightly sweet buns. I don’t put as much dried fruit into them as many recipes call for but it you can increase the fruit content if you prefer. They are basically a sweet bread dough with whatever combination of dried fruit or mixed peel you like. Traditionally sultanas are used in Hot Cross Buns to which my Not Cross Buns bear more than a passing resemblance – ahem.

Not Cross Buns Recipe
For the initial sponge:
275ml full fat milk
140g strong white flour
25g fast action dried yeast
25g caster sugar

For the dough:
250g strong white flour
60g strong wholemeal flour
60g sultanas
60g raisins
40g unsalted butter – slightly softened
25g caster sugar
10g mixed spice
2 tbsp marsala (spiced rum is a good alternative here) – optional
1 large free range egg
1tsp salt

For the goo:
100g plain white flour
75ml water
10g sunflower oil
pinch baking powder

For the glaze:
30g caster sugar
30g water
1/2 tsp mixed spice
Warm the milk in the microwave for 20 seconds or so until lukewarm. Mix together all the sponge ingredients in a large bowl and cover with cling film or a lid and put in a warm place to ferment. The mixture will rise and then fall right back – it is then ready to use.

Not quite ready - starting to collapse

Fully collapsed ferment

Put the sultanas and raisins into a bowl with the marsala and 50ml of recently boiled water. Leave the fruit to absorb the liquid.

In a large bowl roughly rub the butter into the flours, add the the mixed spice, sugar and egg and mix through with your fingers. Then tip in the collapsed ferment and combine the ingredients.Scrape out onto a board and knead the dough until the stickiness has gone and a smooth dough results. Don’t add any extra flour – if it seems sticky knead it some more. Put the dough into a large clean bowl covered with cling film and leave in a warm place until doubled in size.

Dough after the first rise

 When the dough is sufficiently proved knock it back and tip it onto a lightly floured board. Leave the dough to relax for 5 minutes, meanwhile drain the fruit.

Ready to fold the fruit in





Bring the dough together, place the fruit onto the dough and start to gently knead them together. When thoroughly combined divide the dough into equal portions.






Shape them into buns in the same way you form bread rolls. Place them on a non-stick baking tray about 50mm apart. Loosely cover with lightly oiled cling film and put in a warm place until the buns have doubled in size.

While the buns are left for the final rise prepare the fun bit. Pre-heat the oven to 220°C – er, that’s not the fun bit but you need to do it anyway. No, the fun bit is mixing up the goo that you make the faces with. Mix all the goo ingredients in a small bowl with a fork. Get your icing bag ready with a plain nozzle (about 5mm – no larger) and scrape the goo into it. Take the fully proved buns from their warm resting place then pipe whatever designs take your fancy. Don’t be too ambitious at first, keep it simple - just piping two eyes and a mouth can be tricky if the bun isn’t perfectly round and the goo is too runny or too stiff. The heat of the oven will also melt the goo a bit so they can come out looking like they are frothing at the mouth if you aren’t careful.

Raw NCB's ready for the oven

Put them in the oven for between 12 – 15 minutes. Check on them after 8 minutes turning the trays if your oven isn’t cooking them evenly. Take them out before the “goo” starts to brown. Whilst they are baking put the glaze ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to the boil, simmer gently for a few minutes until syrupy. When baked put them on a cooling rack and using a pastry brush apply a coating of sticky glaze to each bun whilst still hot from the oven. Let them cool and EAT. Ta daaaaa – nicely tanned Not Cross Buns