Hot cross buns, a traditional Easter treat with a cross on the top to represent Jesus’ crucifixion, are marked by a cross. Many people around the globe enjoy these sweet spiced buns. They usually contain dried fruit. It is rewarding to make them from scratch, and the result will be warm, fragrant buns that are perfect for sharing. Here is a recipe that will guide you in making hot cross buns.

Ingredients

For the Buns

  • 4 cups (500g) all-purpose flour
  • Sugar granules, 1/2 cup (100g).
  • Active dry yeast, 1 packet (25g or 2 1/4 tsp)
  • Half a teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • Half a teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • Ground cloves, 1/4 teaspoon
  • Allspice ground, 1/4 tsp
  • Warm milk, about 110 degF (45degC).
  • Melted 1/4 cup (60gr) unsalted Butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup (150g), raisins or currants
  • 1/4 cup (40g) mixed peel (optional)

For the Crosses

  • 1/2 cup (60g) all-purpose flour
  • 5 tbsp of water

Glaze:

  • 1/4 cup (60g) apricot jam
  • 1 tbsp of water

Instructions

1. Prepare the dough

  1. Activate Yeast: Mix warm milk with a pinch sugar in a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on the milk, and allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes. This ensures the yeast is alive.
  2. Combine Dry Ingredients: In an oversized bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt. Add cinnamon, nutmeg cloves and allspice. Mix the spices well.
  3. Combine the Wet Ingredients: In another bowl, whisk together melted butter and egg. Stir in the frothy mixture of yeast.
  4. Forming the Dough: Create a well at the center of all the dry ingredients, and then pour the wet mixture in. Stir until dough forms.
  5. Kneading the Dough: Transferring the dough onto a lightly-floured surface, knead it for 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. If you are using a stand-mixer with a dough hook attachment, knead the dough on medium speed for 5-7 minutes.
  6. Add Fruits to the Dough: Gently mix in the currants or raisins and the mixed peel (if you are using it) until they are evenly distributed.

2. First Rise

Let Dough Rise: Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a moist cloth or plastic wrap and let it rise for 1-1.5 hours in a warm place, away from drafts.

3. Shape the Buns

  1. Divide Dough: Press down on the dough that has risen to remove the air. Divide it in 12 equal portions by turning it out on a lightly-floured surface.
  2. Shape Buns: Roll the pieces into smooth balls and place them slightly apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  3. Second rise: Cover them with a moist cloth or plastic wrap, and let the puffiness continue for 30 to 45 minutes.

4. Cross the Crosses

  1. Prepare Paste: In small bowl, combine the flour and the water until you have a thick paste that can be piped. It may be necessary to adjust the consistency of the paste by adding more flour or water.
  2. Pipe Crosses: Transfer paste into a piping tip fitted with a round tip. (Or use a plastic bag whose corner has been snipped). Pipe a cross-shaped shape on top of each bun.

5. Bake the Buns

  1. Pre-heat the Oven: Heat your oven to 375degF.
  2. Baking: In a preheated oven, bake the buns for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. They should also sound hollow when you tap them on the bottom.

6. Glaze the Buns

  1. Prepare Glaze: While baking the buns, melt the apricot preserves and water together in a small pan over low heat. If necessary, strain to remove any lumps.
  2. Glaze Buns: Brush the warm apricot glazing on the top of the buns as soon as they come out of oven to give them an extra shiny finish.

7. You can also serve

Cool the Buns and Serve them: Let the buns cool on a rack. They can be eaten warm or room temperature with butter.

Hot Cross Buns: Tips to Perfectly Bake Them

  1. Yeast activation: Make sure your milk is warm and not hot. It can kill yeast if it is too hot. Aim for temperatures around 110degF.
  2. Kneading: A proper kneading will help develop gluten, which is what gives buns their shape. When you are finished, the dough should be elastic and smooth.
  3. Risen Environment: The best place to rise dough is a warm, draft-free environment. You can use your oven to warm up your kitchen if it is too cold. Turn the oven on, then turn it off and let the dough rise.
  4. Fruit distribution: To prevent clumping the dried fruit with flour, mix them before adding to the dough. This will help them to distribute more evenly.
  5. Crosses: The paste used to make the crosses must be thick enough so that it can hold its shape when baked. It will lose its definition if it is too thin.
  6. Glazing: Apply glaze immediately after the buns are removed from the oven. The heat sets the glaze and gives the buns an attractive shine.

Variations

  1. Chocolate Hot Cross buns: Replace the dried fruit with chocolate chip for a delicious twist.
  2. Orange Cranberry: Add the zest of an orange to the dough and use dried cranberries for a fresh and tangy taste.
  3. Whole wheat: For a more hearty bun, replace half the all-purpose with whole wheat.
  4. Nut Addition: Add chopped almonds or pecans to the recipe for an extra flavor and texture.

Stores

The best way to enjoy hot cross buns is fresh. However, they can be stored at room temperature in an airtight jar for 2 days. You can freeze the buns to store them for longer. Wrap each bun in plastic wrap before placing it in a freezer bag. You can freeze them for up to two months. Thaw them at room temperature, then warm them in the microwave or oven.

Conclusion

It is an enjoyable experience to make hot cross buns in your own kitchen. The aroma of freshly baked bread and spices fills the air. This recipe will guide you through each step, so that beginners can make soft, flavorful buns, with crosses piped perfectly. These hot cross buns will become a staple in your baking arsenal, whether you choose to enjoy them at Easter or anytime of the year.