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When I found out the Fresh from the Oven challenge this month was Hot Cross Buns I was a bit delighted. I don’t recall ever eating one, in fact I didn’t really recall the nursery rhyme either, I just knew there was one.  There was a vague thought that something existed called a Hot Cross Bun and that it must have a long history, going way back in time. After all if there is a nursery rhyme about a food, it must be good and a pretty old recipe!  I was not disappointed, these are very good.  I’m eating one as I sit here typing.

They are a sweet bread but not too sweet. Not close to a muffin, more like a sweet roll.  They usually have spice in the batter and fruits, with a glaze over the top.  They also have a cross on the top and are traditionally served during Easter on Good Friday.  According to Wikipedia they may even pre-date Christ although the first recorded use of the term Hot Cross Bun was in 1733!!!!  I get to make something that’s been passed along since then, wow!

There were a few recipes out there so I read the ones I could find and decided I wanted to stay with a more traditional recipe…meaning no chocolate for now.  I love reading Chica Andaluza’s blog and she had just posted a Hot Cross buns recipe!  So I used hers with a few additions of my own.

Hot Cross Buns

  • 300 g milk
  • 50 g butter
  • 550 g flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 100 g sugar
  • 7 g yeast (I used instant)
  • 1 egg
  • 50 g dates
  • 50 g prunes
  • zest of 1 Meyer lemon and 1/4 ? grapefruit
  • 1 Tb mixed spices (I combined ginger, cardamon, all spice, clove, nutmeg & cinnamon)
  • 1 tsp anise seed
  • 1 tsp orange flower water

For the cross

4 Tb rice flour (you can use regular flour) and water until you reach a pipeable consistency.

For the Glaze

3 Tb apricot jam, 1 Tb orange marmelade

Traditionally raisins are used but I don’t really like them. I found chopped dates & plums (prunes) in the store so used them. I also had used anise seed and orange flower water in a Spanish cookie I recently made and loved the flavor they added so I decided to throw that in too!

My additions

Bring the milk to an almost boil, drop in the butter, cool to room tempurature and add in the tsp of orange flower water. In a mixer combine the flour, salt, yeast, spices, sugar and anise seed.  Add the milk mixture & the egg and mix on low for 4 minutes, then on med for about 6 minutes.  The dough will be sticky.  Turn it out onto a floured surface and flatten the dough and add the fruits & zest and knead until it is well combined.  You will want to add flour if necessary to stop it from sticking.  Put in a greased bowl and proof for an hour or until doubled in size.  I forgot to take a picture of this stage, sorry. Punch down the dough and divide into 24 pieces, shape into rounds & proof again for about an hour. (The amount you make depends on how large you want the buns to be, but remember they will grow a bit).

After the hour, preheat your oven to 375 F (200 C) and prepare the flour for the crosses.  I used rice flour becuase I wanted a crispier cross and I knew the flour makes a whiter color too.  Anyway add water to whatever flour you use until it is wet enough to pipe on the crosses.  I had read that you should slash the crosses first and pipe over the slash and I had read without slashing so I did some of each.

Pop them in the oven and let bake for 15-18 minutes.  They should be a golden brown.  Meanwhile heat up the jam for the glaze.  I’ve also read of people using golden syrup for the glaze. I think in the States we call golden syrup, light corn syrup? But I thought jam would be more flavorful.TaDa!!!

They were delightful to eat.  I took them to a friend’s for Easter dinner and they loved them, even the 9 year old!  I remember being a kid and not liking sweet bread with fruits in it. I think every culture has a version of this idea. In Greece it’s called a Tsoureki, in Italy a Panetone, I believe Mexico’s Day of the Dead bread, Pan de Muertos is a sweet bread too.  Check out Wikipedia on Hot Cross Buns it’s an interesting read.  In fact when I read this part “If hung in the kitchen, they are said to protect against fires and ensure that all breads turn out perfectly. The hanging bun is replaced each year.”   I realized I might just have to hang one in the kitchen! Hmmmm, I wonder how Jason would feel about that?  And the dogs?! They would probably be jumping for it….nevermind….I’ll just eat them.