Hot Cross Buns
I did not grow up eating these at Easter and as a child, thought they were some foreign kind of food that was only mentioned in nursery rhymes. Now that I am older and have access to Google, I love the story behind them. I started making them Easter weekend several years ago, but that new tradition kind of disappeared. In the last six years, on, just before, or just after Easter weekend, I have had a baby (twice), moved (twice) or been out of the state due to celebrations of previous baby births. I am crossing my fingers that the drama during this holiday in the future is limited to the celebration of the risen Christ, since neither moving or additional children are in our plans.
This recipe happens to be from Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman. I followed it exactly with no tweaking. If you are new to yeast breads and regard them as a rather scary endeavor, this is perfect for you. No kneading or guessing about how much flour. It is straight forward instructions and a very forgiving recipe. I highly recommend giving them a try. I also suggest that you eat one right out of the oven, with no frosting. Yeasty and wonderful!
Hot Cross Buns
For The Buns:
2 c whole milk
1/2 c oil-I recommend canola or grapeseed
1/2 c sugar
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (this is exactly one little package)
4 c flour + 1/2 c for later in the recipe
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 big pinches of salt
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c raisins or currants-I use raisins because I always have them on hand and they are easier to find in the supermarket
For The Icing:
1 egg white
To make the rolls, combine the first three ingredients in a large saucepan. Place it over medium heat and stir occasionally, without letting it burn, until hot (not boiling please!) Remove from heat and set aside to cool until its only warm. When it is no longer hot, sprinkle the yeast over the top, add the 4 cups of flour, and stir until combined. It will be a very soft, sticky dough. Leave it in the saucepan and let it sit, covered loosely with a towel or plastic wrap, for an hour. Add the last 1/2 c of flour, the baking powder and soda, and the salt. Mix well.
Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper, or very lightly oil it. Set aside. Lightly flour your VERY CLEAN countertop and pull the dough down onto the surface, pressing all around to flatten the dough a bit. Combine the last 1/4 c of sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle one third or so onto the dough, along with a little less than half the raisins. Fold the dough in half and press and flatten, squishing the raisins and cinnamon/sugar inside. Sprinkle on more raisins and cinnamon and sugar and repeat. Repeat a third time, pressing gently to ‘mix’ the raisin mixture in layers inside. Pinch off a golf ball sized piece of dough and gently roll it into a ball, pinching the edges together at the bottom of necessary to form a smooth ball. Place on the prepared sheet pan. Continue until the pan is full, placing the rolls at least 2 inches apart, and cover lightly. Set aside to rise in a warm place until very puffed. I like to set them in the sunshine in front of a window!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. With a fork, beat together one egg and a splash of water to make an egg wash. Brush the tops and sides of the buns with the egg wash and bake for 20 minutes, or until the buns are a nice golden brown. They smell so good!!!
Allow to cool on a cooling rack, but only after you have eaten one or two of them warm. So. Amazing. Don’t frost them too soon, or it will all melt off! When they are just barely cool, combine the egg white with enough powdered sugar to make a super crazy thick frosting. How much will depend on the size of your egg. Add a tiny splash of milk until you get the consistency you want. Make sure the frosting is thick enough to stay on the buns! Spoon or pipe the frosting in a ‘cross’ shape on top of your Hot Cross buns. Enjoy!