Traditionally eaten on Good Friday, the hot cross bun is a small sweet yeasted bread roll marked with a cross on top. It is usually baked in batches and flavored with spices like cinnamon and cloves as well as mixture of raisins, currants and dried or candied fruit. The cross on top is traditionally piped using a batter made of flour and water but the recipe, from Bon Appétit Magazine, marks the buns with thick sugar paste after baking. The glaze gives an attractive, shiny bakery-style finish. I did not bother with this as I did not have any apricot jam on hand and felt that the buns could do very well without the added stickiness. The sweet aroma of spices and baked bread that wafts through your kitchen as soon as you take them out of the oven really draws one into the mood for Easter celebrations, way more so if you need some extra energy before going on the hunt for chocolate eggs and bunnies. Happy Easter, dear readers!

HOT CROSS BUNS

Ingredients:

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

2 tablespoons honey or golden syrup

1 cup plus 4 teaspoons whole milk, warmed

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

3 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 cup mixed dried fruit

1/2 cup apricot jam, warmed

3/4 cup powdered sugar

Method:

  • Whisk yeast, honey, and 1 cup milk in the bowl of a stand mixer. Let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, butter a large mixing bowl and a 13-inch x 9-inch rectangular baking dish, set them aside.

  • Whisk egg, egg yolk, brown sugar, oil, zests, and vanilla into mixture. Add cinnamon and cardamom.
  • Add 3 1/2 cups flour, beat with dough hook on low speed until mixture starts to form a shaggy dough.

  • Add the salt and beat on medium until dough forms a ball around the hook for about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Continue beating until dough is smooth and slightly tacky about 5 minutes more. Add 1/2 cup butter.

  • Add butter 1 tablespoon at a time, allowing dough to absorb each piece before adding the next piece.
  • Beat until dough is supple, shiny, and elastic, about 5 minutes. Turn out dough onto a clean surface.

  • Knead to incorporate remaining 2 tablespoons flour till dough is very supple and tacky but not sticky.
  • Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic. Sit in a warm place until doubled in size, 40 to 50 minutes.

  • Turn dough out onto a clean work surface and pat down to 1/2″ thick. Scatter dried fruit over surface.
  • Roll up into a log, starting at the end nearest you. Divide into 12 equal pieces, a little less than 3½ oz.

  • Roll each piece into a smooth ball and arrange in prepared baking dish, spacing equally in a 4×3 grid.
  • Cover with plastic and let sit in a warm place till they are nearly doubled in size for 30 to 40 minutes.

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat the remaining egg with 1 teaspoon water and brush it over tops of buns.
  • Bake buns until tops and bottoms are deep golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes. Let cool slightly in pan.

  • Brush jam onto warm buns, then let it cool until set. Whisk the powdered sugar and remaining milk.
  • Whisk it until smooth and transfer to a pastry bag or plastic bag. Cut a small opening in one corner.

  • Pipe crosses over each bun. Let sit till icing is set, at least 15 minutes before serving. Makes 12 buns.
  • Dough, without fruit, can be made one day ahead. Let rise at room temperature, then cover and chill.

Happy Easter folks!

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