As you probably know, my husband finds new recipes fascinating and often asks about it's history or origin. He asked me why these are called Hot Cross Buns and if they had Christian heritage. I thought he was asking about the cross on the buns but what he really wanted to know is why they are called "Hot" Cross Buns. Are they a "hot" commodity meaning hard to find, get 'em while you can? Are they "hot" as in spicy? Or are they served "hot" from the oven?
I tried very hard to find an answer but could not supply him with a definitive reference. So my answer is "they were hot when they came out of the oven" or at least that's the story I'm sticking with.
While researching this recipe I also came across the lyrics to the nursery rhyme dating back to 1798 London.
Hot cross buns!
Hot cross buns!
Hot cross buns!
One ha' penny, two ha' penny,
Hot cross buns!
If you have no daughters,
Give them to your sons
One ha' penny,
Two ha' penny
Hot Cross buns
In addition to this catchy nursery rhyme (which I vaguely remember from my childhood) I was able to confirm that in many Christian countries buns are traditionally eaten hot during Lent through Good Friday with the cross serving as a reminder and symbol of the Crucifixion.
I love working with yeast and am very fond of this recipe. It's easy and seems to be almost full-proof. By adding yeast to a warm milk and sugar mixture it will activate and "bloom" the yeast. Make sure the milk is not too hot as it will kill the yeast and prevent your dough from rising. An inexpensive instant-read thermometer is a great kitchen tool and perfect for this purpose.
After about 10 minutes the yeast has bloomed and activated and is ready to work.
Brush on an egg wash before baking to give the buns a nice shiny exterior.
Be sure the buns cool completely before icing. I opened the kitchen window to let the cool breeze help speed up the process. I couldn't wait to try one, they smell heavenly.
Pipe on a little simple icing and serve!
I love the orange zest and spice combination. These buns are flavor packed, slightly sweet and an absolute treat. English folklore says that buns baked and served on Good Friday will not spoil or mold during the coming year. I don't know about you but these won't last that long in our house! I guess we'll never know.
|Hot Cross Buns|
Hot Cross Buns
(adapted from a recipe on Simply Recipes)
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
3/4 cup warm whole milk, divided (about 100 degrees on an instant read thermometer)
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup raisins
1/3 cup currants (or any combination of currants, raisins or candied citrus peel)
2 teaspoons finely granted orange zest
1 tablespoon whole milk or cream
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon whole milk or cream
In a small bowl add 1/4 cup warm milk. Make sure the milk is about 100-105 degrees using an instant read thermometer. If the milk is not warm enough the yeast will not bloom quickly, if the milk is too hot it will kill the yeast and not rise. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar to the warm milk and stir to dissolve. Sprinkle the yeast on top and stir slightly. Allow the milk and yeast to rest at room temperature until foamy - about 10 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl for a stand mixer whisk together 3 cups of flour, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and 1/4 cup of sugar. Create a well in the flour and add the bloomed yeast mixture, butter, eggs, and the remaining 1/2 cup of milk. Using the paddle attachment mix the dough until well blended. The mixture will be a bit sticky. Add the currants, raisins and orange zest. Mix until blended.
Switch the paddle attachment for a dough hook. Knead the dough on low speed while slowly adding the additional 1/2 cup of flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Knead well after each addition until the dough is slightly sticky but does not stick to your fingers.
Form the dough into a ball and cover with plastic wrap and/or tea towels. Allow the dough to rest in a warm spot free from drafts for 2 hours or until doubled in size.
Press down the dough gently and form it into a log. Cut the log in half and then each half into 8 equal pieces. Form each piece of dough into a ball pulling the sides down to the bottom pinching it together to seal. This will help create a smooth top to each bun. Place the dough on a parchment lined baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise again until the buns have doubled in size - about 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare the egg wash by lightly whisking the egg and milk together in a small bowl. Brush each bun with the egg wash taking care to completely cover each one evenly.
Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until they are lightly browned. Remove and allow the buns to cool for a few minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before icing.
Whisk the confectioners sugar and milk together until smooth. Adjust by adding addition sugar a tablespoon at a time until you have a thick icing that will not run. Pipe the icing on each bun to make a cross. Serve and enjoy!
Makes: 16 Hot Cross Buns
These were a big hit and will be in our annual rotation from now on. Making Hot Cross Buns is a lovely Easter tradition and sweet reminder of our Lord's sacrifice on the Cross. Have a wonderful weekend and thanks so much for stopping by!