Hot cross buns – sweet rolls made with spices and dried fruit – are a staple for Good Friday and Easter dinners. They look like an ordinary dinner rolls, except they have a cross on top. In times past, the cross was cut into the roll with a knife, before cooking. Today, it is usually piped on with frosting.
Although people have used buns for religious ceremony as far back ancient Egypt, hot cross buns are specifically an English Tudor invention. In those days, it was illegal to sell spicy, buttery buns except on Good Friday and Christmas. The cross on the buns points to the origins of Easter – Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection.
Happily, hot cross buns are easy to make and a fun addition to the Good Friday or Easter meal. You may even wish to have fun with one of the superstitions surrounding the buns: Sharing a hot cross bun with someone else will, it’s said, keep your relationship strong throughout the remainder of the year. As you eat, say “Half for you and half for me. Between us two shall goodwill be.”
Hot Cross Buns Recipe
2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
4 1/4 cups all purpose flour (or 2 cups whole wheat flour and 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 1/4 cups lukewarm milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup dried cranberries
For the Frosting:
2 1/2 cups powdered (confectioners’) sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking pan; set aside. If using the dried fruits, place them each in their own bowl and cover with warm water; set aside.
image courtesy Wikipedia
In the bowl of an electric mixer with a dough hook (or in a large mixing bowl), pour the yeast and warm water. Allow to sit until frothy, about 5 minutes. Add the flour, salt, sugar, cardamom, 1 ¼ cup warm milk, butter, and egg. Mix well and knead.
If using the dried fruit, drain it, then fold into the dough.
Divide the dough into 12 pieces of approximately the same size; shape each piece into a ball. Place the balls in the prepared baking pan, touching. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm location until doubled, about 45 minutes.
In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the plastic wrap and place the buns in the oven. Bake until golden, bout 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove the baked buns from the oven and transfer to a wire cooling rack. In the meantime, making the frosting: Whisk together the powdered sugar, ¼ cup milk, and almond extract, mixing well.When the buns are cool, drizzle the frosting over their tops to form crosses.
Gourmet recipes at your finger tips...