Every spring in Massachusetts, the grocery store bakery would start carrying hot cross buns. They were beautiful and shiny, but never quite delivered on taste. And they certainly never had enough frosting.
For my recipe, I wanted to add in enough flavor to satisfy the cravings of my ten-year-old self, adding in plenty of butter and egg yolks, and more currants than most recipes call for. As for the frosting, if you put more on the buns than the normal cross pattern, you wouldn’t really end up with hot cross buns, but the recipe makes enough to get creative.
When I made mine, I didn’t add anything besides currants, but you could add raisins, dried cranberries or cherries, or even candied orange peel.
hot cross buns
1 cup currants or raisins
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 scant tablespoon instant yeast
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 cup milk
3 egg yolks
6 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg, well beaten with a teaspoon of water
hot cross bun frosting (recipe follows)
1. Place currants in a small microwave safe bowl and cover with water. Microwave on high for 1 minute, and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix together flour, cinnamon, instant yeast*, and sugar. Pour in milk, egg yolks, melted butter, and salt. Scrape down the bowl if necessary, and knead for 10 minutes, until dough is sticky and elastic. Drain currants or raisins, and mix into the dough.
2. Turn dough out onto a well floured board and knead a few times. Shape into a ball, and place in a buttered bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for 30-45 minutes, or until dough has doubled in size.
3. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter a 13×9 inch baking pan, or two 8×8 inch baking pans. Divide dough into 16 equal portions, and shape each piece into a ball. Cover with a buttered piece of plastic wrap, and let rise for 20-30 minutes, or until doubled in size. Brush each bun with egg wash, and use kitchen shears to cut a cross into the top of each bun. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until buns are shiny and golden. Allow to cool for several minutes. Place frosting in a disposable pastry bag, and cut off the tip to make a 1/4 inch opening. Decorate the buns.
* If for some reason, you’re unsure about the freshness of the yeast, proof it first by mixing it with it withe the milk first. If after a few minutes, the mixture starts to bubble, then the yeast is good, and you can add the mixture in with the rest of the ingredients. If the yeast mixture does not bubble after a few minutes, then discard the yeast, and replace it with a fresh package. If the yeast is new, however, and you’re sure it’s fresh, go ahead and mix it right in, as instructed.
hot cross bun frosting
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Mix ingredients together in a small bowl and mix together until smooth. Add more cream or sugar as necessary to achieve desired consistency.