We have a big weekend this weekend. Not only is it Easter weekend, but the new season of Doctor Who starts Saturday, and it’s also the hubster’s birthday on Sunday! It’s definitely gonna be a fun weekend…if I could just get him to settle on what he wants for his birthday cake. He’s been trying to decide for almost three weeks, and still he’s got nothing. I may just have to settle it myself and surprise him!
As for Easter, I can’t wait for the Easter egg hunt. I’m such a big kid…I still make the guys dye eggs with me every single year, and then hide them from me. In all honesty, our kiddo hasn’t enjoyed Easter egg hunts since he was about eight years old, but he loves hiding the eggs from me…and I love hunting for them, so it’s a perfect arrangement! It’ll be even more fun this year, because it’s so warm and beautiful here, that we’ll actually be able to take the hunt outside! Over the last six years in the northeast US we have had very few opportunities to have our Easter egg hunts outside. I can’t wait for Sunday!
In the meantime, I have a traditional Easter treat for you today that I never had until just a few years ago, and I’m so glad I finally did, because they’re way better than I expected!
If you’ve never had a homemade hot cross bun, you really are missing out. I love them. They’re sweeter than plain yeast bread, but not as sweet as a cinnamon roll. I love how rich the bread is, and I add a little cinnamon and just a touch of cardamom to mine to warm the flavors up. The icing is basic, but delicious, and perfectly compliments the warm, subtle spiciness of the buns.
I had a whole bunch of step-by-step instructional photos for making these, but I got overzealous with the “format memory card” button on my camera and deleted every last one. These are incredibly simple, though, especially for something with so much flavor. The recipe makes two batches of 12 buns (in 9×13 baking dishes), but I’ve included instructions below for dividing the recipe in half. I really like to load the icing onto these, because it’s that good. I just draw the lines right across the buns while they’re in the pan and let excess icing run down the sides and coat the bottoms. Y-U-M. But if you want a more defined cross on top, then remove the buns from the pan and ice them individually. I also decided to add a bit more “spring” to mine by tinting the icing pink and yellow. It’s not exactly traditional, but it sure is pretty.
These are absolutely wonderful for breakfast on Easter morning, but they’re also perfect as a treat or dessert after a meal. They’re definitely something to share, and it’s said that when you gift them to a friend, your friendship will last a lifetime. So friends, from me to you, enjoy!
Hot Cross Buns
makes 2 dozen
**To halve this recipe, reduce the flour to 2 1/2 cups and the yeast to 1 1/4 teaspoons, but still use 1 whole egg. Divide the remaining ingredients in half normally.**
FOR THE BUNS
4 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or margarine, cut into pieces
1 1/2 cups warm milk (3/4 cup hot, 3/4 cup cold)
1/2 cup raisins or currants (optional)
1 egg, whisked with a teaspoon of water for egg wash (optional)
FOR THE ICING
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine, at room temperature
2 to 3 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Food coloring (optional)
To make the buns: Combine the flour, sugar, yeast, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt in a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer and stir to combine.
In a 4 cup measuring cup, combine the 3/4 cup hot milk with the butter pieces and stir until the butter is melted. Add the 3/4 cup cold milk, then stir in the lightly beaten egg.
Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until a dough just forms. Cover with a clean dry towel and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
Once rested, add the raisins if using and if mixing by hand, transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If using a standing mixer, knead on medium speed, with the dough hook attached, until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. The dough should barely stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour 1-2 tablespoons at a time. If it’s too dry, add more milk.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and allow to rise for 1 to 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
Once the dough has risen, Spray two 9×13 inch baking dishes with nonstick cooking spray, or line with parchment paper. Divide the dough into 24 pieces, each weighing 2 ounces. Gently shape each piece into a smooth, tight boule. Cover with a clean, dry towel and allow to rise for an hour, or until doubled in size. Once doubled, brush with the egg wash.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until they reach about 180 degrees inside. Allow the buns to cool completely before icing.
To make the icing: Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth and fluffy, adding splashes of milk until the desired consistency is reached (the icing should be on the thin side, but not as thin as a glaze).
Recipe by Darla