Friday, March 29, 2013

Hot Cross Buns

     So apparently, hot cross buns are an actual food.  Before, I just that they were the words to the song that everyone who plays an instrument has heard at some point.  A hot cross bun is a buttery, golden bun filled with spice and dried fruit.  However, hot cross buns are not actually eaten hot.  You have to wait for them to cool before frosting or the icing will melt.  But they are hard to resist when they are fresh out of the oven.

     These treats are a tradition to make on Good Friday, though I haven't learned that until this year.  I've never actually had a hot cross bun before.  The icing cross is not just a sweet decoration; it symbolizes Christ.  Hot cross buns are the subject of many superstitions, like buns baked on Good Friday will never go bad, and a hot cross bun in your kitchen will make sure that all your breads rise.  I don't know how I didn't know any of this before.  

      Hot cross buns are really easy to make, too.  I just threw all of the ingredients into a bread machine, shaped the dough and baked it, and then frosted the buns.  If you don't have a bread machine, I included instructions for mixing by hand.  It really doesn't take that much work.  You do need to let the dough rise for some time (2-1/2 hours), though. 
In the bread machine.
Dough cutlets.
Ready for baking.
Fresh out of the oven.
     You can change the spices to your liking, but 2 teaspoons is the recommended total amount for spice. The combination in this recipe is amazing.  Cardamon is often found in hot cross buns, but I didn't have it and it was expensive, so I used coriander instead, which gives these buns a lovely flavor.  I also used a mix of raisins instead of the normal currants.  I have a bunch of raisins left from making those oatmeal raisin cookies.

Hot Cross Buns

makes 16 buns
adapted from Simply Recipes


For dough:
2-1/2 tsp (1/4 oz) active dry yeast 
3/4 cups warm milk (I used 2%)
3-1/4 to 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 1 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
4 tbs unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup currants (or raisins, or candied citrus peel)
2 tsp grated orange zest
For glaze:
1 egg
1 tbs milk
For icing:
1 tsp milk 
3 to 4 tbs confectioners sugar


  1. If using a bread machine on the dough setting, place all ingredients for the dough in the bread machine pan in the order recommended by the manufacturer; press start. Let dough rise for an extra hour after the cycle ends, until it is double. Skip to step 7.
  2. In a bowl, stir together 1/4 cup of warmed milk and 1 tsp of sugar.  Sprinkle the yeast over the milk and let sit for 5 minutes, until foamy.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together 3 cups of flour, and the salt, spices, and 1/4 cup of sugar.
  4. Create a well in the flour and add the foamy yeast, softened butter, eggs, and the remaining milk. Mix until well incorporated.  Add dried fruit and orange zest.
  5. On a floured surface, or with a dough hook, knead the dough, adding additional flour by the tablespoon.  Knead until the dough is slightly tacky, but doesn't stick to your fingers. 
  6. Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Place somewhere warm and let the dough rise until double, 2 hours. 
  7. On a floured surface, press down on the dough to gently deflate it.  Roll the dough into a log and cut into 16 equal pieces (it's easiest to cut the log in half a bunch of times.)  Roll each piece into bun and place each bun on a lightly greased baking sheet, spacing them apart 1 to 1-1/2 inches.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until double, 30-40 minutes.
  8. Preheat the oven to 400*F.  Whisk together the egg and milk for the glaze, and brush the glaze on top of the buns.  Make sure that you cover the whole bun.  Bake in oven for 10-12 minutes, until light golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 1-2 minutes on the baking sheet.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting. I suggest covering the bread with a towel while it cools, so that the crust stays tender, and so nobody passing by decides to steal one.
  9. Whisk together the milk and sugar for the icing.  The icing will be thick.  Fill a ziplock bag with the icing and snip off the corner.  Pipe the icing onto the cooled buns in a cross shape.

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