From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I make Hot Cross Buns to serve on Good Friday every year. While I have the date down pat, the rolls I make are never the same. I keep trying to perfect the recipe so I'll have rolls that are as light and flavorful as they are symbolic. Most of the recipes I've tried, produce dense, heavy, rolls that are not to my liking, so I've been experimenting with the way I measure the flour used to make the dough. I've found that using the fluff, spoon and level method works best for me, and this year's rolls are lighter than they have been in years past. My first encounter with the buns was the pre-packaged variety that came from the grocery store wrapped 12 to a package. They were soft spongy affairs and the only thing that separated them from similarly wrapped dinner rolls was a handful of raisins, a hint of cinnamon and the confectioners' sugar cross that gave them their name. They had nothing to commend them, but they became so much a part of my food memory that I can't imagine Good Friday without Hot Cross Buns. Over the years, I've tried lots of recipes in varied places and this year I think I've found my keeper. I really like these rolls. Next year, I'll substitute additional raisins for the mixed peel in the recipe below. I also plan to plump the raisins in an orange liqueur before I work them into the dough. I think you'll like these buns as much as I do. Here is how they are made.
Hot Cross Buns...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite
1 cup milk
2-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon granulated white sugar
3-1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup candied fruit and peel mix
1/3 cup currants (or raisins)
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon milk or cream
1) To make dough: Heat milk in a saucepan or microwave until lukewarm. Add yeast and 1/2 teaspoon sugar and stir to combine. Set aside for about 10 minutes or until yeast is foamy.
Meanwhile in bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine flour, sugar, spices, and salt. Once yeast is foamy, slowly add it to flour mixture and beat until dry ingredients are moistened. Add melted butter and egg and beat until incorporated. Switch to dough hook. With mixer on medium low speed, gradually add candied and dried fruit and continue to knead dough until it is silky smooth and elastic. Add more flour only if necessary.
Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning dough once, so the top is lightly greased. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise until it has almost doubled in size (about 1-1/2 to 2 hours).
When dough has doubled in size, gently punch it down, and divide into 12 equal pieces. Form each piece into a small round ball and place on a parchment lined baking sheet (Place three buns to a row, four rows altogether. They should be spaced so they have enough room to double in size.)
Combine egg with 1 tablespoon milk, and brush tops of the buns with egg wash, reserving any leftover wash. Lightly spray a piece of plastic wrap with a nonstick cooking spray, and place lightly over buns. Place in a warm spot until almost doubled in size (about 60 minutes).
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Again brush top of buns with egg wash, and with clean kitchen shears (or a a sharp, lightly greased knife), cut a 'cross' on top of each bun. Transfer baking sheets to oven and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the buns are nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool completely before glazing.
3) To make glaze: Combine confectioners' sugar and milk and mix until smooth. Place glaze in a paper cone or a small plastic bag. Cut end of the cone or bag and pipe a 'cross' on the top of each bun. Yield: 12 buns.
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