My secret to better Easter Baking with Stork is giving Hot Cross Buns a modern twist by simply combining three of my favourite ingredients – soft dates – crunchy pecans and sweet maple syrup to create a delicious toasted treat!

Rather amazingly I had never made Hot Cross buns before this batch, however my boyfriend kept asking for them and along with an email dropping in from Stork, it seemed like fate and so over the weekend just gone, I did a little HXB research and after finally choosing a recipe that seemed fairly straight forward I then set about making them my own! I have baked with Stork since I was learning to bake but its normally the tub version, however this used the block version and it worked perfectly, its definitely something I will bake with again!
The recipe I chose as the base was from the River Cottage Handbook no3 simply titled Bread and it was easy enough to follow you just need plenty of time waiting in between the prooving’s but it allowed me to crack on with also baking my mums birthday cake so it worked out well in the end! I used wholemeal flour instead of white to try and kid myself they are healthy and also swapped around the spices to what I had in the cupboard. And instead of normal salt I used some gorgeously pink Himalayan salt I bought recently!


250g strong wholemeal bread flour
250g plain flour
125ml warm water
125ml warm milk
5g powdered dried yeast (I used easy bake)
10g salt
1 medium egg
50g + 20g Stork block
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
50g chopped soft dates
50g pecan nuts
2 tbsp maple syrup


50g plain flour
100ml water


1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp water
Note that I used my mixer to make these as I can’t manage anything that physical nowadays but you can do by hand it might just take a bit longer to knead.
In a small frying pan melt the 20g of Stork, crush the pecans in a pestle and mortar and add to the butter along with the maple syrup. Stir well and bubble away for 2 minutes or until it turns sticky, cool for at least 10 minutes before making the dough. Mix with the dates, cinnamon and ginger.
Fit the dough hook onto your mixer and in the bowl place the flours, salt, water, milk, yeast and sugar and combine. Add the egg and butter and mix to form a sticky dough on a low speed. Add in the prepared pecan mix and carrying on kneading – I used speed 1 on my old Kenwood Chef for about 8 or so minutes or until its all nicely combined and you have a soft silky dough. Cover with cling film or a cloth and place somewhere warm until doubled in size. Mine took about an hour and fifteen minutes in the airing cupboard.
Knock back the dough and divide into 8 large or 15-16 smaller pieces and shape into rounds, place on a floured board and cover, allow to proove for a further 30 minutes or until doubled again. Mine are all slightly peculiar shaped!
Whisk together the plain flour and water to make a smooth paste ( mine was quite runny?!) Transfer to a piping bag (I buy disposable ones so much easier!)
Preheat the oven to 200o/ gas 6
Place the buns on a lined baking tray (I have a reusable non stick sheet its brilliant) and pipe over crosses.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until risen and golden in colour.

Meanwhile warm the maple syrup and water together, then brush the buns when they come out of the oven and allow to cool before weilding the bread knife and the butter!! 

Enjoy halved and toasted with lots of lovely butter on!

These are best eaten freshly made but will keep a couple of days in an air-tight container. I have frozen a few to test later on and will let you know if successful!

By andrei