Forget the perfectly-portioned supermarket offerings this Easter and get stuck in with your very own homemade cinnamon hot cross buns, perfect with a cup of tea. However, the sweet, buttery and rich tastes aren’t the only reason you should devour these sticky fruit buns.
It’s likely you already have cinnamon in your cupboard, and at least use it occasionally, but did you know our sense of smell triggers strong emotions and happy memories from the past? With its brain-boosting effects and aromatic taste, adding the sweet spice to your Easter treats is the perfect way for our loved ones to reminisce over the family-filled bank holiday weekend.
For those living with dementia or Alzheimer’s, the smell of foods, such as aromatic spices or freshly brewed coffee (perfect with a hot cross bun), can evoke memories of the past and is a powerful way or stimulating appetites and conversation, something you or your loved one may be struggling with.
By encouraging a person with dementia to be involved with the baking, it can help them retain skills and also boost their confidence, preserving their independence. Encouragement is key, some simply enjoy one aspect of baking, such as adding the ingredients into the bowl, others may enjoy washing up.
So, if you’re spending the holiday with your carer, this recipe is perfect for bonding, reminiscing and self-motivation.
Whether it’s a spoonful in the mixture or a sprinkling over the glaze, you’ll be able to join in the with the cracking celebrations and with only 226 calories per bun, you don’t have to feel too guilty for having two!
For the dough:
- 300ml full-fat milk, plus 2 tbsp more for glazing
- 50g unsalted butter
- 500g bread flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 75g caster sugar
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- 7g sachet fast-action or easy-blend yeast
- 1 egg, beaten
- 75g sultanas
- 50g mixed peel
- zest 1 orange
- 1 apple (peeled, cored and chopped finely)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
For the cross:
- 75g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
For the glaze:
- 3 tbsp apricot jam
To make the dough:
- Firstly, make the dough. Add the milk to a pan and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and add the butter. Set aside and leave to cool for around 3-5 minutes.
- In a bowl, mix together the flour, salt, caster sugar and yeast. Make a well in the centre and pour the warm milk and butter mixture and 1 egg into the centre. Mix well until you have a sticky dough.
- Tip the mixture onto a lightly floured surface and knead (hold the dough with one hand and stretch it with the heal of the other hands, repeatedly folding it back on itself). Repeat this for approximately 5 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Place back into an oiled bowl, cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- With the dough still in the bowl, add the sultanas, mixed peel, orange zest, apply the cinnamon and knead into the dough, making sure they’re well Leave the mixture to rise for 1 hour more, again covered by some well-oiled cling film to prevent the dough getting a crust.
- Divide the dough into 15 even pieces and roll each piece into a smooth ball on a lightly floured surface. Place the buns on one or two baking trays, lined with parchment paper. Don’t forget to leave enough room for the dough to expand. Cover with a clean tea towel and set aside for another hour.
- Whilst waiting, heat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Mix the additional plain flour with about 5 tbsp water to make the paste for the cross – add the water 1 tbsp at a time, so you add just enough for a thick paste. Spoon into a piping bag with a small nozzle. Pipe a line along each row of buns, then repeat in the other direction to create crosses. Bake for 20 minutes on the middle shelf of the oven, until golden brown.
To make the glaze:
- To make the glaze, gently heat 3 tbsp apricot jam to melt, then sieve to get rid of any chunks. While the jam is still warm, brush over the top of the warm buns and leave to cool.
Note: If the chocolate Easter egg hunt has taken its toll, these sticky buns are freezable and perfect for a midday snack.