Hot Cross Buns Recipe

Introduction:

Hot cross buns are a classic favorite, especially during the Easter season. These soft, spiced buns adorned with a cross on top are a delightful addition to any table. Whether enjoyed fresh from the oven or toasted with a spread of butter, hot cross buns are sure to satisfy your cravings. Follow this simple recipe to create your own batch of homemade hot cross buns that will impress family and friends alike.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup (180ml) whole milk, warmed to about 110°F
  • 2 and 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast or instant yeast (1 standard packet)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoons (71g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature and cut into 5 pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon (see note)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3 and 1/2 cups (438g) all-purpose flour or bread flour, spooned & leveled
  • 1 cup (140g) raisins or currants

Flour Cross:

  • 1/2 cup (63g) all-purpose flour or bread flour
  • 6-8 tablespoons (90-120ml) water

Orange Icing:

  • 1 cup (120g) confectioners sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) fresh or bottled orange juice (or use milk and a splash of vanilla extract for plain icing)

Instructions:

  1. Prepare the dough: Begin by whisking the warm milk, yeast, and granulated sugar together in the bowl of your stand mixer. Let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes until foamy on top. If you don’t have a mixer, you can mix the dough by hand in a large bowl. Add brown sugar, butter, vanilla extract, eggs, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and 1 cup of flour. Mix on low speed until combined, then add the remaining flour and raisins. Beat until the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
  2. Knead the dough: Using the dough hook attachment or by hand, knead the dough for an additional 5 minutes until soft and slightly tacky. The dough should be smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let it rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours until doubled in size.
  3. Shape the rolls: Punch down the risen dough and divide it into 14-16 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball and place them in a greased baking pan. Cover and let the rolls rise for another hour until puffy.
  4. Preheat the oven: While the rolls are rising, preheat your oven to 350°F (177°C).
  5. Add the flour cross: In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and water to form a thick paste. Spoon the paste into a piping bag or zip-top bag and pipe crosses onto the risen rolls.
  6. Bake the rolls: Bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes until golden brown on top. If the tops are browning too quickly, tent the pan with aluminum foil.
  7. Make the icing: While the rolls are cooling, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice to make the icing. Drizzle or brush the icing over the warm rolls.
  8. Serve and enjoy: Serve the hot cross buns warm or at room temperature. Store any leftovers tightly covered at room temperature for 1-2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Serving and Storage Tips:

  1. Serve Warm and Fresh: Hot cross buns are best enjoyed fresh from the oven when they are still warm and fragrant. Serve them alongside a cup of tea or coffee for a cozy and comforting treat.
  2. Toasting Option: If serving leftover hot cross buns or enjoying them on subsequent days, consider toasting them lightly before serving. This can help revive their texture and enhance their flavor.
  3. Butter or Spread: Accompany your hot cross buns with a generous spread of butter or your favorite jam for added indulgence. The creamy butter complements the warm spices and sweet glaze perfectly.
  4. Icing Drizzle: When serving, ensure that the icing drizzle is still fresh and moist. If necessary, you can refresh the icing by briefly reheating it in the microwave or adding a splash of water or orange juice to thin it out.
  5. Store Properly: To store leftover hot cross buns, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or place them in an airtight container. Store them at room temperature for up to two days to maintain their freshness and softness.
  6. Refrigeration Option: If you anticipate keeping the hot cross buns for longer, consider storing them in the refrigerator. This can help extend their shelf life for up to a week. However, be aware that refrigeration may cause the buns to dry out slightly, so be sure to warm them gently before serving.
  7. Freezing: Hot cross buns can also be frozen for longer-term storage. Wrap each bun individually in plastic wrap and place them in a freezer-safe bag or container. They can be stored in the freezer for up to a month. To thaw, simply leave them at room temperature for a few hours or warm them gently in the oven.
  8. Refreshing Leftovers: If your hot cross buns have become slightly stale, you can refresh them by briefly warming them in the oven or toaster. This will help revive their texture and make them taste almost as good as freshly baked.

FAQs:

1. Can I use instant yeast instead of active dry yeast in this hot cross buns recipe?

Absolutely! Instant yeast can be used interchangeably with active dry yeast in this recipe. Simply follow the same instructions for proofing the yeast in warm milk, allowing it to become foamy before proceeding with the recipe as directed.

2. Can I omit the raisins or substitute them with other dried fruits?

Yes, you can customize the hot cross buns according to your preferences. If you’re not a fan of raisins or currants, feel free to omit them entirely or substitute them with other dried fruits such as chopped apricots, cranberries, or even chocolate chips for a decadent twist.

3. How do I know when the dough has doubled in size during the rising process?

To gauge if the dough has doubled in size, you can perform a simple visual check. Once the dough has been covered and left to rise in a warm place, it should visibly expand and become puffy. You can also gently press your finger into the dough; if the indentation remains, the dough has likely doubled in size and is ready to be shaped.

4. Can I make the hot cross buns ahead of time and freeze them?

Yes, you can freeze the hot cross buns for future enjoyment. After baking and cooling completely, wrap the buns individually in plastic wrap and then place them in a freezer-safe bag or container. They can be stored in the freezer for up to a month. To thaw, simply leave them at room temperature for a few hours or warm them gently in the oven before serving.

5. Can I skip the orange icing or use a different glaze?

Certainly! While the orange icing adds a delightful citrusy flavor to the hot cross buns, you can customize the glaze according to your taste preferences. If you prefer a simpler glaze, you can use a mixture of confectioners’ sugar and milk, optionally adding a splash of vanilla extract for flavor. Alternatively, you can omit the glaze altogether for a more traditional approach.

Conclusion:

With this easy-to-follow recipe, you can enjoy the irresistible taste of homemade hot cross buns any time of the year. Whether shared with loved ones or savored as a special treat for yourself, these spiced buns are sure to delight your taste buds. Try making a batch today and experience the joy of baking these classic Easter treats!