Much like many other recipes I’ve posted on TSP, I’ve only ever had hot cross buns once. I was at the Ferry Building Farmers Market and decided to pick one up to munch on while I navigated the vendors. What I love about hot cross buns is that they aren’t overly sweet. The fruit that studs the bread is what gives the bun most of its flavor. I also found that these come together very quickly!
You really can use whatever you want in these buns, with some guidelines of course. In my version I used cranberries and cherries, along with the dried currents. You could use dried blueberries or raspberries, too. I’ve also seen hot cross buns with dates in them before, which sounds divine. Dried apricot would also be a great options if you like them. I almost put some orange zest into these but didn’t have an orange on hand – next time for sure!
I didn’t get a chance to try refrigerating the dough and baking the next day. You could certainly make the dough, shape them, refrigerate them overnight, and bake them fresh in the morning. There’s only about 45 minutes worth of active time to prepare the buns, which could be done on a Saturday afternoon. Then, on Sunday morning, pull them out of the fridge to come to room temperature – about an hour I would say – before baking them. Ta-da, fresh hot cross buns on a Sunday morning with minimal work!
These buns are definitely best within a few hours of making them. Much like other breads, these buns lose their texture as they sit. I kept mine in a plastic bag overnight and the results the next day were far less spectacular than the first day. You also can’t warm them up too much because the icing will melt. You could freeze them pre-icing, reheat in an oven until warm, and the ice after they cool a little.
- 2 tbsp apple juice or rum
- 1/4 cup mixed dried fruit
- 1/4 cup raisins or dried currants
- 3/4 cup milk, room temperature
- 1 large egg, plus 1 egg yolk (save the white for the topping)
- 3 tbsp butter, room temperature
- 1 tsp instant yeast
- 2 tbsp light brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves or allspice
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- Egg Wash
- 1 large egg white, reserved from above
- 1 tbsp milk
- 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp confectioners' sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 2 tsp milk, or enough to make a thick, pipeable icing
- Lightly grease a 9" square pan.
- Mix the rum or apple juice with the dried fruit and raisins. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave briefly, just till the fruit and liquid are very warm, and the plastic starts to "shrink wrap" itself over the top of the bowl. Place aside to cool.
- Mix together all the dough ingredients except for the reconstituted fruit from above. Knead the mixture until the dough is soft and elastic. Add fruit and any liquid, mix until combined.
- Lightly coat a bowl with oil and place dough inside. Allow the dough to rise for one hour, covered. The dough will be puffy, but may not double in size.
- Divide the dough into 9 equal size pieces. Shape the pieces into balls using greased hands. Place into prepared pan.
- Cover the pan, and allow the buns to rise until they are puffy and touching each other, about one hour. Preheat the over to 375°.
- Whisk together the egg white and milk. Brush over top of buns.
- Bake the buns until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and turn out onto a rack. Flip back to upright position and allow to cool.
- Mix together the icing ingredients. Once the buns are completely cool, pipe icing in classic cross pattern on top.
The original recipe makes 12-16 and I shaped my buns into six but found them to be too large, which is why I recommend nine.
Recipe from King Arthur Flour. Yields 9 buns.