These ultra cheesy, super soft wild garlic hot cross buns are the perfect celebration of wild garlic season AND Easter. Finished with gooey, luxurious cheesy bechamel crosses and a sweet chilli jam glaze, these buns are a very special way to use up your wild garlic.
When wild garlic season meets Easter, magical things happen. Wild garlic is one of my FAVOURITE ingredients and because it’s only available for – at a maximum – one month a year, I love to make the most of it and get creative with ways to use it.
Wild garlic pesto and wild garlic butter are classic staples to make, but these buns? Outrageously good. They’ve got that lovely subtle wild garlic flavour – thanks to the quick wild garlic milk we’ll blitz up – and are absolutely stuffed with gooey cheese. Instead of a regular water flour cross, we’re going to make a cheesy bechamel that just adds to the gorgeous cheesiness and takes the buns to the next level. Essentially, this is cheesy garlic pull apart bread but made even better.
I’m using the tangzhong method here, to make sure the buns are SUPER soft and stay that way. That just means making a quick flour and wild garlic milk paste before adding the rest of the ingredients and making the dough.
- Wild garlic (ramps). This wonderful, seasonal leafy delight is only around for a few weeks a year in spring. It’s got a gorgeous, subtle hint of garlic and I can’t get enough of it when I can get my hands on it. If you’re lucky, you can forage for it in parks, but you can also pick it up at farmer’s markets and some online retailers – in the UK, Able & Cole, Riverford and Ocado tend to stock it.
- Bread flour. You can use plain flour for these buns, they won’t be quite as light and fluffy, but it will still work well.
- Milk. I’m using regular, whole milk here which I recommend, but you could also use semi-skimmed or skim milk. I’ve not tested this with plant-based milk, but I suspect soy or oat milk would work too.
- Instant yeast. I love using instant yeast because you can add it straight in with the other dry ingredients, but you can also use active yeast. If you do, you’ll need to sprinkle it on top of the wild garlic milk mix (the milk not used in the tangzhong paste), and let it sit for 10 minutes. After this time, it should be frothy and bubbly (a sign it’s alive!) You can then go ahead and continue with the recipe. If you try to add active yeast directly into the dough, it won’t rise properly and you’ll end up with strange, grainy bits in your buns.
- Cheese. I’m using a combination of mozzarella (for the stretch factor) and cheddar (for flavour). You can mix this up based on what you have and what you like. Blue cheese, parmesan, gruyere, gouda, Havarti or Edam would also be great.
- Sweet chilli jam. I’m using my absolute favourite sweet chilli jam recipe here for the glaze, but you can use regular sweet chilli sauce too.
How to make them
Blitz your wild garlic leaves with milk in a blender, then add a little of the milk mixture to a small pot with some flour to make the tangzhong paste. This is a technique used to keep bread super soft in the days after it’s baked. Add the tangzhong to your stand mixer bowl, along with the rest of the dough ingredients. Knead for about 12 minutes, until the dough is smooth and supple.
Once the dough is looking lovely and puffy and has doubled in size, it’s time to fold in the cheese and form the balls. Press the dough out into a large rectangle, then scatter the cheese all over. Fold up a third of the dough, fold another third on top, seal the ends and then roll up into a cylinder. Use your hands to form a ball. Don’t worry if some cheese falls out when you’re doing this – you can just stuff it back in!
Divide the dough into 12 roughly equal pieces – I like to use a scale to get precise but you don’t have to. Roll the dough pieces into small balls and place them on a baking paper lined oven tray. Let them rise again until they’re puffy and are about 2/3 bigger. Slash a cross into the tops of your buns so that the cheesy bechamel cross has somewhere to settle, then bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, pipe on the bechamel crosses and bake for another 15 minutes.
Brush the buns with the sweet chilli jam when they’re warm, then enjoy while hot, oozy and gooey.
Got a question?
Regular garlic won’t act the same as wild garlic does in the recipe – instead, replace wild garlic leaves with baby spinach leaves and add 2 cloves of crushed garlic to the dough mixture for the garlic flavour.
They’ll keep well for 3 days, stored in a covered container at room temperature. You can pop them into the toaster to freshen them up after the first day if you like. They freeze well too – I like to slice them in half, then pop them into zip-lock bags to freeze. That way, you can defrost them straight in the toaster.
I’m using a combination of mozzarella (for stretchiness) and cheddar (for a lovely cheesy flavour). But you could really use whatever cheese you have to hand – gruyere, Havarti, Edam, provolone, parmesan or blue cheese would be great too.
Baking is all about precision and grams are the best way to ensure you get the results you should when following a recipe. Cups just aren’t accurate enough and can vary hugely, based on how you pack in things like flour. I use a cheap digital scale from Amazon and I really recommend picking one up, you’ll find you use it so much. Plus, it means fewer dishes because you can just measure everything as you add them to your mixing bowl.
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