Anyone know that song “hot cross buns”? It was the first little song I taught my daughter on the piano. Of course – it’s the first little song everyone learns on the piano I think, nice and easy. When I told her I made hot cross buns, she asked “the song?” Wait, they’re an actual thing too? Not just a song?
Yes, they’re actually a thing.
But these ones are good. Okay, if you LIKE hot cross buns you won’t understand that statement. But I have to say that I don’t really like them. Not the ones you buy. I don’t what it is, but I always think they’re way too dry, and I can’t get on board with candied fruit in bread. It’s just plain wrong. It’s not good at all, and I can’t handle it.
So there’s no candied fruit in my hot cross buns today. If you like it I suppose you could replace the raisins with candied fruit instead. Just don’t tell me about it.
These probably aren’t even really close to the traditional hot cross buns. I really don’t know. Like I said, I’m not really a fan. But a couple of years ago I made a Greek celebration bread, the braided kind with hard boiled eggs tucked in between the strands, for Easter and my mom said that it reminded her of hot cross buns, but better. So these buns are a variation of that bread. Although changed a bit because that recipe took two days to make, and I was too impatient for that.
I wanted hot cross buns within a few hours. This recipe is a bit of a mashup of several different recipes from one of my favourite bread baking cookbooks, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, plus a few of my changes to make them into hot cross buns. So, not traditional at all, but they’re light and fluffy, filled with spices and raisins, with a sweet honey lemon glaze coating the tops. And they were delicious.
- 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ¾ teaspoons salt
- 3½ teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest (zest of one lemon)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- ¼ teaspoon cloves
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature, slightly beaten
- ½ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- ¼ cup water, at room temperature
- 1 cup raisins
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt, yeast, lemon zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves. Add the eggs, buttermilk, melted butter and almond extract and start to mix on low speed. Drizzle in the water slowly with the mixer running, using just enough water to form a soft dough. If the dough still looks dry add more water, a teaspoon at a time until it’s a soft ball.
- Knead the dough with the dough hook for 5 minutes (7-8 minutes by hand) until it is soft and slightly tacky, but not sticky at all. If it’s too sticky sprinkle in a little more flour, if it is stiff then add a little more water, until you have a smooth, soft dough. Add the raisins and knead for 1-2 more minutes until they are dispersed throughout the dough. You may have to do the last of the kneading by hand to get all of the raisins into the dough. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, turning it to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise until doubled, about 60-90 minutes.
- Lightly spray a 9x13 inch baking pan with non-stick spray. Punch down the risen dough and remove it from the bowl to an oiled countertop. Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces, about 3 ounces each, and roll each piece into a round ball. The easiest way is to roll the dough pieces on the counter, cupping your hand around the dough, with the edge of your hand on the counter. After 10-15 seconds of rolling it this way it will form a nice round ball with a smooth top. Place the buns in the prepared baking dish. Cover them with plastic wrap sprayed with non-stick spray. Allow to proof (rise) until doubled, about one hour.
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and water for the crosses to form a paste. Spoon this paste into a ziplock bag or a piping bag. Cut a small corner from the ziplock bag and pipe the paste into cross shapes on the tops of the buns. Bake for 25-27 minutes until the buns are golden brown and an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of one reads 190 degrees F. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the water and the sugar to a boil. Add the honey and lemon extract and whisk to combine and then remove from the heat. Remove the buns to a wire rack and brush with the glaze, you may not need it all. Allow to cool completely on the wire rack.