An Easter tradition around the world, hot cross buns are a staple decadence that pleases palates alongside the savoury dishes that happen to make it onto your plate. Originating in the United Kingdom, this sweet bun is traditionally comprised of warm spices and dried fruit. Typically eaten at the end of Lent, on Good Friday. Hot cross buns signify the conclusion of the religious observance, a time of reflection and thanksgiving.
A rich dough, spiced with ground cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. shaped into delicate rolls and baked until golden brown. Once baked, these buns are glazed with a simple syrup and finished with their signature cross.
In the Bahamas, hot cross buns are traditionally eaten alongside fried fish. A dish we'll be discussing and preparing very soon!
Grab an Apron & Let's Get Started!
Hot Cross Buns 101
Flours: Although all-purpose flour is usually the go-to when baking , i chose to add bread flour into the mix. The high protein content of bread flour means more gluten, which ultimately increases the elasticity and texture of the dough. Mixing both flours gives us a soft, light texture while limiting the chance of our finished buns being dense.
Flavorings: For this recipe, I wanted to incorporate warm spices like cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and ginger. That is one of the reasons I love utilizing "pumpkin spice"...& Yes I also love a good PSL during fall! (besides the point). Though the name suggests otherwise, pumpkin spice is simply a combination of all of those warm spices we spoke of earlier. Ultimately giving our buns a unique yet familiar flavor.
Add-Ins: Though traditional recipes call for dried fruit such as raisins or currants, I chose to make a plain version — leaving any choice of additions completely up to you.
How to Make
the softest Hot Cross Buns
Yield: 12- 15 buns
Prep Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20-25 minutes
1 1/2 cups milk *lukewarm
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 envelope of instant yeast (approximately 2 1/4 tsp)
3 cups bread flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pumpkin spice
1 tsp cinnamon
4 tbsp unsalted butter *softened
1 cup raisins
1 1/2 cups hot water
2 tbsp water
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp milk
In a small bowl combine lukewarm milk, sugar and yeast. Stir gently and let it rest until the yeast activates and it begins to look foamy.
In the large bowl or the bowl of your mixer add both flours, salt, pumpkin spice and cinnamon. Mix until combined.
Add the eggs and butter to the yeast mixture and stir until butter is fully incorporated.
Pour the yeast mixture over the flour mixture, mix until a soft dough begins to form. If you are using a stand-mixer: Use the dough hook attachment, mix for about 5 minutes at medium speed. Add up to 1/4 cup more flour if your dough is still a little too sticky to roll out.
If you decide to add raisins or any other dried fruit, soak them in hot water for about 2-3 minutes to rehydrate them. Once plump, drain excess liquid then add raisins. Continue mixing for another minute. They will add a little moisture but it should not affect the texture of your dough.
In a large bowl add a bit of oil, transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around until completely coated.
Cover the bowl with a towel. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Shape and Bake:
Preheat oven to 375º. Generously coat a 9x13-inch pan with nonstick spray.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and cut it into 12-15 equal pieces (about half the size of your fist). Roll each one in your hands or onto the counter quickly to make a dough ball. Place the rolls in the pan, leaving a bit of space between each one. Cover with a clean towel and let them rest for another 35 minutes or until doubled in size.
Lightly brush with egg wash before placing in the oven (vigorously whisk egg and water). An egg wash adds shine and enhances the golden color while baking.
Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
While baking, make the simple syrup by heating the sugar with the water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Continue to boil the syrup for about another minute or until syrup thickens very slightly. Set aside.
Remove the rolls from the oven and set aside for 5 minutes to cool down. Brush the tops with the sugar syrup and let rest for 5 minutes before adding that signature cross.
To make icing, add milk to powdered sugar and whisk until combined. If you prefer a thicker icing, add more powdered sugar (a tbsp at a time). If you prefer it to be thinner, add more milk (a tsp at a time).
Pour icing into a piping bag fitted with a round tip or zip-lock back with the end clipped, pipe down the center of each row and then across each row to create a cross on each bun. Serve warm!