Can’t you just smell these amazing Hot Cross Buns?! They were still slightly warm when I took this picture and there is really nothing in the world like freshly baked bread.
So, this is my first attempt at Hot Cross Buns. I came across a recipe as I was flipping through an old cookbook (Heritage, Cook Book 1975) and thought the description sounded interesting: “Hot Cross Buns had their earliest beginnings in Greek and Roman times. These currant-filled buns served as a symbol of the sun, bisected by a cross into four seasons. Later in history these buns with their cross became associated with Easter and were formerly only sold on Good Friday.” Hmmm, I don’t remember Hot Cross Buns being associated with Easter. I DO remember an early piano tune I had to play for lessons: Hot cross buns! Hot cross buns! One a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns!
First step: I had to track down currants. I’ve never had a currant. Three grocery stores later and I found them with the raisins. I had a “duh” moment.
As you can see, currants are quite a bit smaller than raisins. The currants I found are Zante currants, which are dried black Corinth grapes. Currants are one of the first known raisins – first recorded in 75 AD. They are a necessary ingredient in traditional Hot Cross Buns. I’m very happy that I kept searching and didn’t just settle for a box of raisins. I would have ended up with cinnamon-raisin buns!
This recipe makes a particularly wonderful bread dough. The recipe calls for 3 1/2 to 4 cups of flour, or “enough to make a soft dough”. I used just 3 1/2 cups and was able to get the perfect, slightly sticky dough that made for a light bun.
The recipe makes 18 rolls. After shaping the buns and letting them raise again for about an hour, I cut a shallow cross on the top of each and brushed on a little egg white to brown them up nicely.
They baked up beautifully! The only recommendation from the boys: MORE FROSTING!
- 3½ - 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¾ cup whole milk
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ⅓ cup sugar
- ¾ tsp salt
- 3 eggs
- Frosting (simple powdered sugar and milk frosting)
- In the bowl of a stand-mixer, combine 2 cups of the flour, yeast and cinnamon.
- In a small saucepan, heat the milk, oil, sugar, and salt until warm and the sugar is dissolved.
- Set aside to cool to warm, about 115 degrees F. Add to the flour mixture.
- Mix to combine and then add the eggs.
- Beat for 30 seconds on low, scraping the sides of the bowl to ensure all the ingredients are mixed.
- Beat on high for 3 minutes.
- Stir in the currants on low.
- Change the attachment to the "dough hook" and add just enough of the rest of the flour to make a soft, slightly sticky dough.
- Shape the dough into a ball and place in a large greased bowl, turning once to grease the surface.
- Cover and let rise until double.
- Punch the dough down, cover and let rest 10 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 18 equal pieces and form each into balls.
- Place on a greased cookie sheet 1½ inches apart.
- Cover and let rise until double, about 30-45 minutes.
- Cut a shallow cross on the top of each bun and lightly brush tops with egg white.
- Bake at 375 degrees F for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Let cool and then pipe a frosting cross on the top of each bun.