Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Seasonal Sensations - Hot Cross Buns

Seasonal treats of springtime include the wonderful, soft, spicy, fruity hot cross buns. They are fairly quick and easy to make and delicious to eat. I remember eating buns like these when I was a child. Easter was a special time for children when I was growning up. We often had something new to wear to church and the church would have pots of Easter lilies at the altar. After breakfast we were anxious to check out our Easter baskets, all lined up in a row in the living room, filled with jelly beans and marshmallow eggs, yellow and pink marshmallow chicks, and chocolate bunnies. The eggs we had colored the day before became the stars of Easter egg hunts,

and my dad would take home movies of us finding the eggs on automobile bumpers and in clumps of grass, holding up the bright egg to the camera with a smile. It's no wonder that I still enjoy making colored eggs and special treats like these buns.

The recipe called for candied orange peel, but I had some fresh orange marmalade left over from the Orange Tians so I substituted that and added additional flour to offset the extra moisture from the marmalade. I like the strong dose of orange in these buns, but you could substitute lemon zest and candied lemon peel or citron if you prefer. Some recipes also call for mixed fruit like you use for fruitcake. I like the relative simplicity of currants and golden raisins.

Sweetie likes his buns without the icing cross...but I think you need the cross to make 'em hot cross buns.

This is my entry to Tangerine's Kitchen for Bread Baking Day #28 - Bread Buns, plus I'm sending it over to Susan of Wild Yeast's Yeastspotting weekly event. Many thanks go to Susan for this weekly compilation of wonderful yeast based recipes!

Hot Cross Buns
Makes 16 buns

3/4 cup warm (100° to 110°) whole milk
4 1/2 teaspoons (2 packages) active dry yeast
1 large egg
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
Finely shredded zest of 1 large orange or 1 large lemon
About 31/2 cups flour - I used 2 cups bread flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped candied orange peel(or candied lemon peel or candied citron) or 1/2 cup orange marmalade*
1/4 cup dried currants
1/4 cup rum
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 teaspoons fresh orange juice
2 teaspoons fresh Meyer lemon juice
1 cup powdered sugar

1. In a bowl of a stand mixer, combine milk and yeast; let stand until yeast softens, 5 to 10 minutes. In another bowl, whisk together the whole egg, brown sugar, cooled melted butter, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and orange or lemon zest. Add to the milk/yeast mixture and beat on medium speed with dough hook until blended.

2. Whisk the flours together in a bowl or large measuring cup if using more than one kind. Blend most of the cup flour into the batter. Beat on medium speed until dough is smooth and stretchy, 10 to 12 minutes, using dough hook. Add just enough additional flour, a tablespoon at a time, (about 1/4 cup) so dough is only slightly tacky.

3. Soak currants in the rum for 10 minutes, then drain off the rum and use for another purpose or discard. Add orange peel and currants to the dough, pick up dough, and mix with your hands to distribute fruit.(I turned the dough out onto a lightly floured board and kneaded the dough in...that way I was sure that I had the dough well kneaded before adding the fruit and that the fruit was well distributed.)
Return dough to bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/4 hours.

4. Punch down dough. With floured hands, shape into 16 smooth rounds. Evenly space rounds in two buttered 8- or 9-in. square pans.

5. Cover loosely and let rise in a warm place until doubled and puffy, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°. Brush buns with beaten egg. Bake until deep golden, 13 to 15 minutes. Let cool in pans at least 30 minutes.

6. In a small bowl, stir together juices and powdered sugar until smooth. Spoon into a small, heavy-gauge plastic bag, snip a hole in a corner, and squeeze icing onto buns to form large Xs.

* If you use marmalade, you should plan to use about another cup of flour


  1. always a classic at easter - spices and all things nice!

  2. these look great!
    I'm making hot cross buns too this week.

  3. Meeta, Very much an easter bread.

    Tia, Yours are gorgeous looking!

  4. I love seeing these hot cross buns around! They all have such a unique twist. I love the spices in here!

  5. Elle..those are some sexy buns! ;D I love that you incoporated the orange marmalade into them in lieu of orange peel. They really fantastic and those eggs are so vibrant!