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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Hot Cross Buns ...they're not just for Easter anymore.

...or were they ever just for Easter?  Actually no.  They are most often associated with Easter, but a more accurate time to associate them with could be Good Friday.  In Christian lore, since the cross represents the crucifixion, people eat them on Good Friday and Easter.  But if you dig back even further, you'll find the Saxons eating buns marked with a cross that represented the four quarters of the moon in honor of the goddess Eostre (hmmm...Easter...Eostre...the perfect example of that golden thread that weaves its way through all the traditions, beliefs, and religions of the world.  Eostre is often referred to as the goddess of the rising dawn or uprising light.  So.  Easter.  Rising.  But, I digress...)*. Whatever its roots, the hot cross bun is popular in one version or another throughout the world today.  Whether it contains the traditional raisins or currants...or chocolate chips...or dried, candied can pretty much bet that it will be pleasantly sweet, yeast-leavened, and flecked with warming spice.  And if you're lucky, you can find them throughout the year.

Hot Cross Buns
makes 8 buns

2 c. (250 g) white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
2 c. (250 g) ap white flour
½ c. warm water
½ c. warm milk
1½ tsp. (5g) instant yeast
2 tsp. (10g) fine sea salt
3½ Tbs. (50g) superfine sugar
1 medium egg
3½  Tbs. (50g) butter
2/3 c. (100g) mix of yellow raisins, cranberries, chopped dates
finely grated zest of an orange
 heaping ¼ tsp. each cinnamon, nutmeg, & allspice

for the crosses (optional)
6 Tbs. (50g) ap white flour
7 Tbs. water

to finish
1 Tbs. apricot jam, sieved
1 Tbs. water

In large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine flours, water, milk, yeast, salt, and sugar.  Add egg and butter and mix to a sticky dough.  Add orange zest, dried fruit, and spices and knead on low until silky and smooth.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, ~1 hr.
Deflate risen dough and divide into eight equal pieces.  Shape into rounds and dust with flour.  Place on a floured board (I covered mine in parchment for easy sliding), cover with plastic and let proof about 30 minutes, until roughly doubled in size. Mine didn't really rise too much this time.
 Preheat oven to 400° F.  If you're making crosses, toss the flour and water into a baggie and massage them until they form a paste.  Snip a tiny bit from the corner of the baggie and pipe crosses across the top of the buns.  Since I just wanted to see how this recipe worked out, I piped crosses on half of the buns and left the other half plain.  Transfer risen buns to baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes.  I simply slid the parchment from my cutting board straight onto my baking stone in the oven.
While the buns are baking, melt the jam with the water in a pan.  Brush the resulting glaze over the buns as soon as you remove them from the oven.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.  I was a bit disappointed by the buns with crosses piped on them.  You can see them...but just faintly.  Perhaps less water or more flour next time??  Although, it may just be that I'm used to seeing hot cross buns with a cross of piped icing after baking...or ones that were slashed before baking.  Yeah, the more I think about it, the more I like the subtlety of the cross.  It's a good option.  Okay.  Thanks for letting me talk that out.
Serve the buns warm, cooled, or toasted.  
Honestly, they're pretty fabulous any way you slice 'em...but I love them warm.  Mine seemed a bit dense, so perhaps next time I'll bake them longer...I think the density resulted from being a bit undercooked. But the flecks of orange and spice that dot the sweet bread are so seductive.  Normally hot cross buns are made with either raisins or currants...but the mixture of raisins, cranberries, and dates is out of this world!  And that glaze. Oh my. It serves for more than just sheen.  It's a bit of sticky goodness left on your fingers to remind you of how good they were once they've disappeared!
*source: Wikipedia
*This post is linked to:
Bread Baking Day #35 (Bread w/ Dry Fruits) is being hosted at Taste of Pearl City this month.
Bread Baking Day #35 - Bread with dry fruits (last day of submission January 1st 2011) BYOB

Would you like to comment?

  1. Love hot cross buns, and yet never think to make them! Your photos are beautiful, thanks for the reminder.

  2. Lovely recipe - and what a great idea for Christmas morning breakfast :)

  3. Yum. I love stretchy, warm buns like this!

  4. I Love this recipe- the addition of cranberries dates and golden raisins sound great..(all of which I have on hand right now) I am going to try these today..

  5. It's been a long time on your blog after my break. Lovely hot cross buns, I just love the flavours and adding dry fruits to it. Thank you for sending it to BBD 35.

  6. I'll take a dozen please! :)

    We are big fresh bread eaters in this house. I would definitely make these kinds of recipes more often if I had the time. Thanks Heather!

  7. I see no realistic reason why these should only be for easter. In fact, that just seems crazy! I bet my family would love these as dinner rolls...

  8. I love hot cross buns and have never made them. One of these days.....

  9. I have been wanting to make these...and I've been wishing Easter would come sooner. I'm going to follow your lead though and just go ahead and make them! Thank you for sharing with me. I hope your upcoming week is full of joy, laughter and good friends

  10. Que ricura de bollitos. Deliciosos.


  11. mmm, i kept picturing myself breaking open one of those right out of the oven, yummmmm.

  12. Your buns are hot but man are they cross! ha ha

    I like these and I'm sure we'll get around to trying them. We've been eating a heck of a lot of bread in the past few months.

  13. Perfect for this month's bread baking day! I may copy you... ☺
    I love Joseph Campbell and seeing how one religion gets built up from others.. and so on..

  14. Deeelicious! It's been way too long since I've made any type of homemade bread and these look awesome.

    The River Cottage....I think that Hugh guy either wrote or co-wrote that series, right?

  15. I like the subtle cross on the buns too, very the taste is awesome with the ingredients added. Will bookmark this for future reference. Thanks for sharing:D

  16. Love the faint cross on the buns, and your fruit mixture makes me swoon. Haven't made these in quite some time, might be a yummy little Christmas morning breakfast treat!

  17. I never knew about cross buns, they look really great and the cross is so subtile - you shouldn't be disapointed, but proud

  18. How very interesting! I never knew that about Eostre. Thanks for the tasty recipe! Have a wonderful upcoming holiday! Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

  19. looks super wow !loved the wonderful recipe for these swell looking hot cross buns !

  20. Ohmy...Freshly baked homemade buns fresh out of the oven...?! Love it!!!

  21. Even more interesting that evidence strongly concludes that Jesus didn't die on a cross but on an upright stake, NOT shaped as a cross. The cross was originally a symbol of a false god and now Christians use it to represent Jesus? Hmmmm...

    The buns look awesome! I'll take mine without the cross though. :-)

  22. Beautiful job. They look heavenly.

  23. Freakin MOUTHWATERING BABY! I am in the mood to bake too...

  24. Stunning and perfectly baked. Beautiful work !

    US Masala

  25. The buns look great and I could have one with my afternoon coffee :-) Funny, I always think about them at Easter time too….you can make them anytime, as you pointed out. Great idea.

  26. i find that actual hot cross buns are getting harder and harder to find, even at easter. usually i find bread with an icing frosted cross. these look delicious, and might i say--i would probably go as far as to use one for a left-over christmas roast sandwich...wouldn't it be yummy with herbed mayo?!

  27. Interesting, never knew the history.
    They look amazing though, just perfect!

  28. I think they are perfect for any holiday or season. ;-)

  29. Your bread looks so delish. If I was told that I could only eat bread, I have no problem with that! :D

    Have a Merry Christmas Heather!


  30. i really love hot crossed buns...
    Happy hloidays!!!!

  31. You´re right: Why not baking these wonderful buns for Christmas. Great idea!

  32. Yum, I love buns with a glaze to them.  I don't remember if I've had these, I feel like I've tried them but not sure...gonna try them now!