Hot Cross Buns! Hot Cross Buns!

Hot Cross Buns--make these for Good Friday!

You’ve probably heard the nursery rhyme about hot cross buns, but have you ever actually eaten a hot cross bun?  I grew up in the south, and I don’t remember seeing these very often down there.  I’m not saying they weren’t there.  I just don’t remember them.  So when I moved to upstate New York a couple years ago, I was intrigued by these sweet rolls that showed up everywhere around Easter.  I tried some from a supermarket, but I wasn’t very impressed.  They were dry and tasteless.  So then I tried some from a bakery in hopes that they would be better.  Wrong again.  This bakery actually put some sort of dried fruit candy in their hot cross buns.  They weren’t very good, so I kinda gave up on hot cross buns.  I assumed they were supposed to be dry and bland, and people just ate them out of tradition rather than taste.

This past weekend, I decided I needed to try some homemade hot cross buns before entirely giving up on these traditional Easter treats.  Wow…am I glad I did.  They were amazing!  Soft, tasty, and quite addicting.  I’m pretty sure I could have eaten the whole pan by myself.

Homemade Hot Cross Buns--perfect for Good Friday!

These buns are similar to a cinnamon roll dough, but the flavors are definitely unique.  For instance, I included raisins and chopped up pieces of Candied Orange Peel in my Hot Cross Buns.  Dried currants are also a common addition, but I didn’t happen to have any currants on hand.  Once the rolls are baked, a cross is typically piped on top.  I also chose to brush the rolls with a sugar glaze before adding the cross (an old bakery trick).  The result was amazing!  If you’ve never had a good Hot Cross Bun before, then you should definitely give this version a shot.  They are traditionally eaten on Good Friday, so go candy some citrus peels, pick up some raisins, and make these on Friday.  You’ll be glad you did!

Hot Cross Buns! Hot Cross Buns!

Yield: 9 buns

Ingredients

    For the Hot Cross Buns
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/4 cups + 3 Tbsp bread flour (I prefer King Arthur Flour)
  • 1/4 cup + 3 Tbsp cake flour
  • 1/2 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 3 Tbsp golden raisins
  • 3 Tbsp candied orange peel
  • 1 egg (for egg wash)
  • For the Sugar Glaze
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • For the Icing
  • 1 cup confectioner's (powdered) sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp water (or milk)

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a countertop mixer with the paddle attached, combine the first 4 ingredients (butter, sugar, salt, and egg) in a bowl until well blended.
  2. Add milk and stir until blended, but do not overbeat.
  3. Add flour, yeast, and allspice and mix until absorbed.
  4. Add raisins and orange peel and mix until well incorporated. (Dough will be very sticky, but feel free to add a little more flour if dough is too sticky to handle.)
  5. Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
  6. Allow the dough to rise in a warm location (~80-85 degrees) for 1.5-2 hours. (I often heat my oven up just slightly and then turn it off to create a warm place for dough to rise.)
  7. Remove dough and divide into 9 equal sized portions (~1/4 cup each). Feel free to sprinkle additional flour on dough if it is still too sticky to handle.
  8. Shape each portion of dough into round ball and arrange in a 3x3 grid on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Each bun should slightly touch the ones next to it.
  9. Cover baking sheet and allow to rise in warm location for another 30-45 minutes.
  10. Beat the remaining egg and then brush the tops of the buns before baking.
  11. Bake at 375 for 17-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
  12. While buns are baking, make the Sugar Glaze by combing the sugar and water in a heavy sauce pot. Heat until sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally to prevent sugar from clumping.
  13. Once baked, remove buns from oven and brush with Sugar Glaze.
  14. While buns are cooling, make the Icing by mixing the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and water. Place Icing in a pastry bag (or ziploc bag with one very small corner cut off).
  15. Once cool, pipe a cross on the top of each bun.

Notes

These rolls will stale quickly, so bake them on the same day you plan to eat them!

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