Hot Cross Buns, traditionally served on Good Friday, are sweet, spiced, yeasted buns, that are studded with raisins or currants and marked with a cross made with a flour and water paste piped on the top of the buns before baking.
Keyword: baking, bread, buns
210mlmilk(3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp - between 100°F - 110°F)
8gactive dry yeast(1 packet or about 2½ tsp)
67ggranulated white sugar(1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp, divided)
Proof yeast - Warm milk to about 100° - 110°. Add 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 package of yeast (8 g). Stir and allow yeast to activate and bloom for about 7-10 minutes, until mixture is foaming and bubbling.
Soften raisins - While yeast is proofing, soften raisins or currants. Put raisins/currants in a heat proof medium-sized bowl and cover with boiling water. Soak for 5-10 minutes and drain. Set aside.
Mix dry ingredients - In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. Set aside.
Mix wet ingredients - In bowl of mixer, (or a large mixing bowl if working by hand,) add eggs, remaining 1/3 cup of sugar, and melted butter. Mix until well combined. (If using lemon or orange zest, add as well.)
Add yeast mixture to mixing bowl and whisk until well combined.
Slowly add flour mixture, about a third at a time, incorporating flour into mixture before adding more. Use mixer with dough hook on low speed or mix by hand.
Knead dough - If using a dough hook, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is shiny and smooth. (Use speed recommended for kneading dough for your mixer. I use a Kitchen Aid and knead the dough at level 2.)If you are kneading by hand, oil or flour your hands and your surface well, and knead for about 10-12 minutes.NOTE: this is a sticky dough and will not have the same consistency as regular bread or pizza dough. The dough will pull away from the edges of the mixing bowl but will still be quite sticky. But if your dough is too sticky and "runny," add more flour a tablespoon at a time. If your dough is too dry, add a teaspoon of milk at a time.
Add raisins - When you are almost finished kneading the dough, add your drained raisins/currants. Knead until fruit is well distributed.
Let Rise and Form Buns
Let dough rise - Form dough into a large ball and place in greased/oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a clean, warm, damp towel. Place in a warm area, free from drafts, and allow to rise for 60-90 minutes, or until doubled in size. (I usually proof my dough in my oven at about 100°. I turn on the oven to 200°, allow it to warm up a bit, and then turn it off. Be careful to not have your oven above 100° though - you don't want to kill the yeast or partially cook your dough. You can also add a bowl of hot boiling water to the oven to keep the dough from drying out.)
Portion dough - With lightly floured or oiled hands, turn dough onto a lightly floured or oiled surface. Gently work the dough into a symmetrical ball, somewhat flattened, so that you can divide the dough into four even pieces. Then cut each of those four pieces into three equal-sized pieces, so that you have twelve pieces of dough, the same size. (Ideally, if you have a kitchen scale, weigh the ball of dough and divide by 12. That number will be the weight that each ball of dough should weigh to create evenly sized buns.)
Form buns - Once the 12 pieces of dough are relatively evenly sized, form each piece into a ball by kneading/tucking the edges of the dough around to the bottom and then gently rolling the ball until the top is smooth.
Let buns rise - Place dough balls into a parchment-lined or well-greased 9" x 13" baking pan or on a baking sheet. Cover and allow to rise until doubled in size. (You can refrigerate the dough, allowing it to rise overnight. Allow the dough to return to room temperature before baking.)
Prepare flour paste - While the dough is rising, prepare the flour paste for the crosses. In a small bowl, mix together about 3/4 cup of flour with about 6-8 tablespoons of water. Whisk mixture to create a thick paste. The consistency should be thick enough that it will hold its shape and not spread over the top of the buns, but thin enough that you can pipe it through a pastry bag or plastic bag.
Pipe crosses - Once the balls of dough have doubled in size, preheat your oven to 350°F OR 170°C. Using a piping bag and a small round tip or a plastic bag with a small tip of a corner cut off, create the crosses by piping lines vertically and horizontally across the buns. Do not attempt to make crosses on each bun individually.
Bake at 350°F (170°C) for 28-30 minutes, until tops are golden brown. (If you want, you can use your thermometer to check that the temperature in the center of the buns is between 190°F-200°F OR about 90°C.)
Prepare glaze - When buns are almost finished baking, make your apricot glaze or sugar syrup. If using apricot jam or preserves, simply mix together 1-2 tablespoons of jam with 2-4 teaspoons of hot water until you have a nice consistency for glazing. If making a sugar syrup, add equal parts water and sugar to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring for a couple of minutes until all the sugar has dissolved.
Glaze buns - Using a pastry brush, glaze buns immediately after removing from the oven and let cool for about ten minutes.
Serve while still warm or, if serving later or the next day, toast the buns or warm in the microwave or the oven. And don't forget the salted butter! Hot Cross Buns taste absolutely divine with a generous spread of salted butter. (If you have any leftovers, store them tightly wrapped or in an air-tight container for up to three days.)