In Christian tradition hot cross buns are consumed on Good Friday (the Friday before Easter) as a symbol of the crucifixion. English folklore, however, provides a secular interpretation of the buns, which I happen to be more in to. Apparently these buns, they foster friendship, particularly if you repeat the quote “[h]alf for you and half for me, Between us two shall goodwill be,” before splitting the roll in half. How awesome is that? Whatever your reason for making these – to acknowledge the crucifixion of a savior, to get off the couch and try something new, to ensure the prosperity of your friendships, whatever — you can rest assured that you are continuing a baking tradition, which is sort of rare, I’ve found, these days. So bake on, friends!
Hot Cross Buns
- 2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast
- 3/4 cup milk (warm)
- 3-3.5 cups flour
- 1/4 cup + 1 Tbs sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 eggs (room temperature)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 4 Tbs butter softened
- lemon or orange zest
- 1 cup raisins (or, I used 1/2 a cup of raisins and 1/2 a cup of chocolate chips to make two different kinds of buns. It’s whatever you’re feeling, there’s no hot cross bun police.)
- Egg wash (1 egg + 1 tsp water)
Easy Powdered Sugar Glaze (you might need a few batches of this for all of the rolls).
- 1 Tbs milk or water
- 3 – 4 Tbs powdered sugar
1. Combine flour, 1/4 cup of sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
2. Set up your electric mixer with the paddle attachment and mixing bowl. Add the 2 and 1/4 tsp of yeast to the bottom of the mixing bowl. Place your eggs in a cup of warm water (if they have not already reached room temperature) so that they are not still cold when ready to use.
3.. Over low heat, warm the milk slightly in a saucepan. Add 1 Tbs of sugar and stir to dissolve. Make sure that the milk is not hot, but lukewarm. When it reaches this temperature, pour it over the yeast and let it sit for about 10 minutes or until it becomes foamy and active.
4. Once the yeast is activated, add the flour and spices to the yeast and stir with a spatula to combine.
5. Crack the eggs into a small bowl and add vanilla and almond extracts as well as the zest. I had to zest a tangerine in lieu of a real orange, but hey, it’s easier than going to the store. Be creative, experiment with what you have in your kitchen. No new recipe was ever invented by following someone else’s exactly.
6. Turn on the electric mixer to low speed and slowly add the egg and extract mixture. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary. After a few turns, shut off the mixer.
7. Add the softened butter to the mixing bowl. Now, mix away, helping the dough form a ball by stopping every once and a while to scrape down the sides of the bowl. If the dough ball sticks too much, add a little flour. If your ingredients are not forming a ball of dough, add warm water 1 Tbs at a time until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
8. Once you have all of the ingredients incorporated into a dough ball, remove the dough from the mixer and set in a floured bowl to rise for 1-2 hours.
9. Punch down the risen dough and roll it out on a flat, floured surface. I split my dough in two to make raisin hot cross buns and chocolate chip hot cross buns. Variety is the spice of life. Sprinkle rolled dough with raisins/chocolate chips, fold over, roll out again, and add repeat until the dough is studded entirely with the little additions. Roll the dough into a log and cut into twelve equally sized pieces. Roll each piece of dough in your hands until it forms a ball.
10. Place dough balls on parchment or wax paper lined baking sheet and cover with a kitchen towel. Allow to rise another 30 minutes as you preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
11. Meanwhile, prepare the egg wash and icing. And call your friends to come over.
12. After the second rising (no pun intended) lightly brush the dough with egg wash (I actually forgot this step, but wish I hadn’t) and pop them in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.
13. Cool on wire rack for at least 20 minutes before icing. I put my icing in a plastic sandwich bag and cut one of the ends to make a pastry bag, which worked well to make the crosses.
Eat and enjoy!