Sunday, February 21, 2010

Hot Cross Buns

Hot cross buns!
Hot cross buns!
One a penny, two a penny,
Hot cross buns!
If you have no daughters,
Give them to your sons
One a penny,
Two a penny,
Hot Cross Buns!


I’ll be honest—I don’t know the origin of Hot Cross Buns. By some accounts, they pre-date Christianity. I do know this: In modern times, Hot Cross Buns are traditionally served on Good Friday and, for the most part, they start showing up in bakeries as soon as Lent starts. I know this because my mother-in-law, Alice, starts asking for them as soon as the ashes show up on foreheads. 

Now, I can’t say that I’ve ever been a huge fan of the Hot Cross Bun. We scour the bakeries for them every year and it is hit or miss on quality. Most are too dry, skimpy on the raisins, or full of that awful candied fruit. So this year I have decided to make my own. I looked at several recipes, jotted down what I liked about each one, and came up with this version:

Hot Cross Buns

Printable Version

1 cup milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast (one envelope)
4 to 4 1/2 cups flour (I used bread flour, but all-purpose will work)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 cup golden raisins

In a small saucepan, heat the milk, butter and sugar until the butter is almost melted and the temperature is about 110 ° F. (bathwater warm). If you accidentally heat the milk too much, just let it cool down.

Stir together 2 cups of the flour, the salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cardamom. Set aside.

Combine the warmed milk and the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the yeast and let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes or until foamy. Fit a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Add the flour/spice mixture to the milk and beat on medium/high speed for about 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and stir in the orange peel, lemon peel and the raisins. Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook. Add 2 cups of flour and knead for about 5 minutes, or until a soft dough forms, adding more flour as needed.

I used the zest of one orange and one lemon. Be careful not to grate the white part of the lemon--it's very bitter.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently by hand briefly until no longer sticky (be careful not to add too much flour). Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning it so that both sides are lightly oiled. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a draft free area for about an hour or until it has doubled in size.

Preheat oven to375 ° F. Punch down the dough, let it rest for 5 minutes. Form the dough into 18 rolls and place on two large cookie sheet (I like to line them with silicone baking mats). Brush each roll with a little melted butter and let rise again until doubled, about 35 minutes. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool for ten minutes and pipe icing* in a cross form on each bun.

*Icing: Stir together 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and enough orange juice to make a spreadable frosting.


Alice and I were very happy with the outcome.


I actually only made 9 Hot Cross Buns. For variety, I cut the remaining dough into three pieces, rolled them into ropes, braided them and made a beautiful raisin egg bread. It looks a little like a German Stollen, but that's the wrong season so we'll call it an Iced Raisin Braid. This I baked for 25 minutes. 
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  1. ha--i can't see those three words without that little ditty immediately popping into my head. :)
    great work, on both the buns and the braid!

  2. Looks great. I have a recipe that I make every year, but it is done in the breadmaker. I love the idea of doing a braid.

  3. I've never actually had a hot cross bun. They look great though!

  4. I love the flavor and scent of cardmom. I'm cerain it is lovely in these hot-cross buns.

  5. wow i ahve bookmarked this,..thaks for the recipe..

  6. Hi,
    Amazed, Looks so soft and yuummmmmyyyy :)

  7. I had never had a hot cross bun until last year. I had mentioned the fact to my neighbor and she gave me one (that she had bought at the market) and it was...dry. and full of those candied fruits...ack. Yours look fantastic!!! and I love what you did with the rest of the dough.

  8. Definitely agree with you about the candied fruit...almost all bakery-made hot cross buns have that fruit. I really never liked them because of it. Your recipe looks wonderful! No candied fruit here. Copying now.
    And I appreciated your brief history on them, too.

  9. Hot cross buns are something on which I can normally pass (oh man, get a load of the grammar in that sentence!), but yours look like they'd be the kind that we dream of. Thanks for rescuing these traditional treats from the fate of fruitcakes!

  10. This is such a perfect time to explore recipes for hot cross buns. Yours look wonderful. The one I'm currently using makes a drier bun than I really like. I'll have to give yours a try. I really like your blog. I'll be back often to see what you're up to. Have a great day.

  11. I've never had a hot cross bun before but these look sooo tasty. I love anything that can be versatile enough to slather with butter or icing, or both!

  12. Hi Cathy - yum yum yum!!! I don't have patience for yeast breads to rise, but I want to attempt this one some day.

  13. Mother Goose and baked goods... Two of my favorite things! I think those could win you a million dollars, too!