I’m a big fan of Easter because, well, chocolate and hot cross buns. I love a good breakfast bun and along with French viennoiseries, I’d say hot cross buns would be my absolute favourite way to start the day.
I’ve never actually attempted to make hot cross buns before because we are able to buy really good ones (year-round, it seems – we saw – and bought – some just before Christmas last year!) and, well, who has the time to make their own? Actually, me!
After spending months working on recipes for the breads and buns section for my book, I woke up last week after submitting the first draft of the manuscript and thought “You know what? I’m gonna make hot cross buns!” As you do. Writing a book has been very empowering – it’s made me step out of my comfort zone and believe I really can do anything if I put my mind to it. Fortunately, these buns are the easiest thing out there – no need for any special equipment, they are kneaded by hand so anyone can make them! They’ve got a little bit of the traditional spice mix that goes into hot cross buns but also a touch of orange zest and some cranberries (because I can’t stand peel!) which makes a nice change. I can see lots of different options for flavours here too (like, chocolate chips? Mmmm!).
I chose to ice these after they were baked with a sweet “cross” which means you either have to eat them fresh or wipe the icing off the bun before you toast them if that’s what you like to do. I prefer the sweet cross to the baked-in flour cross that is often used but feel free to “cross them” (or not) however you like.
Cranberry and orange hot cross buns
Hot cross buns with a twist
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) orange juice
- 3 1/3 cups (500 g) all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1/4 cup (50 g) dark brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- zest of 1 small orange (approx. 1 tablespoon)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 cup (250 mL) milk
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup (113 g, 1 stick, 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- Vegetable oil, for the proofing bowl
- 1 egg, lightly beaten (for egg wash)
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream (35%) (for egg wash)
For the cross
- 1/2 cup icing sugar, sifted
- 1 - 1 1/2 tablespoon heavy cream (35%)
- Soak the cranberries in the orange juice while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
- Place the flour, yeast, sugar, salt, zest, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and baking powder in a large bowl. Whisk to combine.
- Heat the milk to 110˚F (temperature measured with a digital thermometer). If heating in a microwave, start with 30 seconds on high. If it’s not hot enough, you can continue to heat in increments of 15 seconds (to be sure not to overheat).
- Pour the warm milk into the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until the dry ingredients are just combined.
- Whisk the egg and slightly cooled, melted butter together lightly and stir carefully into the dough until the mixture comes together and all the dry ingredients are combined. This will be a fairly sticky, wet mixture at first.
- Drain the cranberries out of the orange juice. Discard the juice and mix the cranberries into the dough. Sprinkle a little flour on the dough (still in the bowl) and knead until the cranberries are more or less combined.
- Place the dough on a lightly floured surface, sprinkle with a little more flour and start to knead. Knead for 5 full minutes. The dough will be smooth and elastic by this time.
- Pour around ½ tablespoon of vegetable oil into a large metal or glass bowl and use a paper towel to evenly coat the insides of the bowl with oil. Place the dough in the bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and leave to rest at room temperature for 1 hour or, if you are not using immediately, place the bowl in the fridge overnight.
- Once your dough has rested either 1 hour in a warm place or overnight in the fridge, line two baking trays with parchment paper. If your dough was in the fridge, let it sit for about 15 minutes before working with it.
- Tip the dough out onto a large sheet of parchment paper on a countertop and divide it into 12 equal parts (I cut the dough in halves, then each half into three pieces then cut those into two). The dough should weigh just over 2 pounds (around 1 kg) so each piece will be around 3 oz. (90 g).
- Take each piece of dough and gently form a ball shape. Cup your hand around the dough and roll around the parchment to form a smooth ball. Place the buns on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
- Cover the buns with a clean tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
- Pre-heat the oven to 375˚F.
- Whisk the egg and cream together and brush the tops of the buns with this egg wash.
- Bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until the buns are golden.
- Remove from oven and remove to wire cooling racks to cool completely.
- Ice the buns:
- Mix the icing sugar and cream in a small bowl until it's thick but able to be piped. You might need some more cream but just add a dribble at a time.
- Place the glaze in a piping bag (or a ziplock bag and cut the corners off) or simply drizzle it over the buns in the shape of a cross. DO NOT place this in a toaster because the sugar will burn. These are best eaten fresh, anyway or warmed in an oven on low heat.
Mmmm – don’t they look good?