Hot cross buns are a traditional roll consumed typically on the Friday before Easter (Good Friday) and around Christmas time. They are marked with a cross to “ward off evil spirits”as I’ve heard, but most popularly its meant to signify the crucifixion of Jesus. While we do celebrate Easter and consume lots of pork and fixings all of that aside, for me this time of year really is significant more as the welcoming of spring and sharing this time with my family. Living surrounded by nature its hard not to really truly appreciate the changing of seasons. This recipe utilizes cherries as well as slightly toasted almonds, with a sweet buttery overnight dough that I use as a double duty recipe for dinner rolls. Its a great way to have rolls for Easter supper (or any proper supper) as well as Hot cross buns to be baked off on Thursday or Friday. They are a wonderful family tradition of mine that usually show up different every year. The hardest part of making these is waiting to ice them! (as you’ll notice I have melty crosses)
Hot Cross Buns
- 1 1/4 cups warm milk
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup melted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
- 4 teaspoons yeast (or two packets is fine)
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 5 1/2 cups flour
To prepare the dough combine warm milk, sugar, melted butter and yeast. Stir to combine and allow to rest 5 minutes or so until it starts foaming. To this mixture combine the eggs salt, nutmeg and about 2 cups of flour. Stir until mostly smooth. Combine remaining flour slowly. It will become hard to do with a spoon at this point start kneading the dough by hand until the flour is incorporated. If your using a stand mixer you will slowly add the flour and then using the dough hook knead just until the flour is combined. Place the dough into a lightly greased container and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to double in size on the counter and place in the refrigerator overnight or up to four days. If you go beyond that, the dough will taste almost “beery”.
If you do not have a storage canister big enough to store all of this dough divide it in half. I used just enough dough to make 4 small dinner rolls as “testers/tasters”. It was just enough to fit this into my largest canister. You want a container that vents, if you don’t have one divide this between two large bowls and cover with plastic wrap.
To make the Hot Cross buns:
- 1 large portion of the dough (about the size of a cantaloupe, I used exactly 25 ounces)
- 3/4 cup dried cherries
- (slightly plumped in hot liquid and drained)
- 1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon flour
– Egg Wash: 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon of water
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove your dough from the refrigerator and pat out on a well floured surface. Roll the dough into about a 20 inch long rectangle thats approximately 10 inches wide be sure your surface is floured and the dough is not sticking, you’ll want to work somewhat quickly if you can because the warmer the dough is the harder it is to handle. In a bowl combine the plumped cherries, brown sugar, cinnamon and flour. Sprinkle this mixture over the rectangle and then sprinkle the almonds over top leave about one inch around the edges. Roll the long side towards you in jelly roll fashion dusting off any excess flour. Cut this roll into 6-8 pieces.
You can make them smaller and bake them on a cookie sheet that has been slightly greased or lined with parchment or a silicone mat, or you could bake them similar to cinnamon buns as I did. Place in a lightly greased baking dish a standard cake pan, a fluted pan or a pie dish. I personally LOVE the gooey almost raw bun in the middle so I often opt for the pie dish method using a standard fluted pan works best for consistent baking but you’ll probably need to do 8-10 pieces two pans.
Lightly cover with plastic wrap, spraying the plastic so it will not stick to your buns. Allow to double in size approximately 45 minutes to an hour. Once your buns look like they are close preheat your oven. Combine your egg with water, if you want a darker crust you should use the egg yolk you could absolutely use just the white or a whole egg. Brush the tops of your buns with the egg mixture and bake for 10 minutes until the tops are golden brown. Lower the temperature to 300 degrees and bake for additional 10-15. Remove from the oven and allow to cool 20-30 minutes before icing.
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2-1 tablespoon milk
Combine sugar, vanilla and milk using just enough liquid to combine. Place in a pastry bag or plastic lunch baggy snipping off a small portion of the corner. Or if you’ve got a steady hand just mark the crosses on the buns using a spoon and drizzle method.