Heavily flavored with traditional baking spices, citrus zest and raisins, these Hot Cross Buns are a delicious way to start the morning!
For some reason, we never ate Hot Cross Buns growing up. They just weren’t on our radar. However, when we moved up here to New York state some 10 (11?) years ago, I remember stumbling across a pack of Hot Cross Buns in the grocery store. They looked tasty, so I picked up a package. Unfortunately, like many baked goods at grocery stores, they looked way better than they tasted.
This same thing happened when I moved to Louisiana and tried my first king cake. It was dried out and bland, and I didn’t understand the infatuation with king cakes. Then I had one from a specialty bakery, and I immediately understood. No more grocery store king cakes for me. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn from my mistakes when it came to Hot Cross Buns. I picked up that package from the grocery store, and again I was sorely disappointed. I think most of them ended up in the trash.
Hot Cross Buns
Hot Cross Buns are spiced rolls that are traditionally served on Good Friday. The buns are said to be a way of celebrating the end of Lent, and the cross is symbolic of Jesus’ crucifixion. Like most traditional recipes, the origins of these buns are a bit murky. There is some evidence that a similar style of roll existed in pre-Christian times, but Christianity absorbed the tradition as the religion grew. Regardless of the beginning of the story, I can tell you with 100% certainty how the story ends – with me gobbling down a roll or twelve.
These buns are heavily spiced with many of my favorite baking ingredients – cinnamon, allspice, cloves and nutmeg. Add in a citrus twist thanks to the orange and lemon zest, and you’ve got one heck of a delicious treat!
In the Georgian era of Britain, bakers would hire street callers to shout out their wares. That’s where the nursery rhyme comes from: Hot cross buns! Hot cross buns! One a penny, two a penny—Hot cross buns! If you have no daughters, Pray give them to your sons, But if you have none of these little elves, Then you must eat them all yourselves. We have a son, and while he helped me eat this batch of these buns, I definitely helped, too! Just slice open one of these buns, toast it lightly and then spread some butter on top. That’s how I roll. (Get it? Roll? As in bun? Haha. Dad joke right there!)
One last little tidbit. It is said that Hot Cross Buns can bring good luck. If you hang a bun in your kitchen, it will protect against kitchen fires as well as ensure that all batches of rolls will be perfectly baked. The roll is then replaced each year. I’m gonna try this out – at least until Laura tells me to get rid of the stale (and perhaps moldy) bun hanging from our kitchen ceiling. Cheers, and happy baking!
Did you bake a batch of these Hot Cross Buns at home? Leave a comment, or snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog). I’d love to see your version!
Hot Cross Buns
For the Buns
- 4 cups bread flour
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2¼ tsp instant dry yeast i.e. 1 (¼-oz. packet)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter softened
- 1¼ cups warm milk
- 1 large egg
- 1½ tsp vanilla extract
- ¾ cup golden raisins
- ¾ cup raisins
- zest of 1 lemon
- zest of 1 orange
For the Crosses
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp powdered sugar
- 5 Tbsp water
For the Glaze
- ¼ cup apricot jam
- 1 Tbsp water
For the Buns
- Using the bowl of a countertop mixer, add flour, sugar, instant dry yeast, salt, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and nutmeg; stir until well combined.
- In a separate bowl, add butter, warm milk, egg and vanilla extract; stir until well combined.
- Pour liquid mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Using the dough hook attachment, stir until dough begins to come together.
- Add golden raisins, raisins, lemon zest and orange zest; continue mixing until well combined.
- Turn dough out into a large oiled bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm location until dough approximately doubles in size (~1 hour). Note: I always let dough rise in the oven with only the oven light on.
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper; set tray aside.
- Transfer dough to a lightly-floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, flatten dough and then press down on top with your palm. Rotate hand clockwise until dough comes together in a ball. Place dough balls at least 1½” apart on the prepared tray.
- Lightly spray tops of dough balls with baking spray. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and place tray in a warm location for 60 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. (Note: If letting the dough rise in the oven, make sure to remove tray before preheating oven.)
For the Crosses
- Using a small bowl, whisk together the flour, powdered sugar and water. Transfer mixture into a piping bag or a sandwich bag with one corner snipped off. Pipe a cross onto the top of each roll.
- Bake at 350°F for 18-22 minutes, or until buns are golden brown in color. (Note: If you have an instant read thermometer, the temperature of the rolls should be ~200°F.)
- Remove tray from oven and let rolls cool slightly.
For the Glaze
- Using a microwave safe bowl, add apricot jam and water. Heat in 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until jam has melted and mixture is smooth. While rolls are still warm, brush tops with the glaze.
- Serve buns warm or at room temperature.
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