Hot Cross Buns are one of the most popular traditional Easter recipes. Some say they originated in Greece, some say they were an English invention. Whatever their origin, these buns, decorated with crosses, grace many Christian tables as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Hot Cross Buns are delicately sweet; less of a dessert and more of a roll. They’re often filled with bits of fruit like raisins and/or currants. For more flavor, these are topped with an orange sugar glaze.
Admittedly, this was my first time attempting Hot Cross Buns. Since I’m still very new to baking breads, I don’t yet know enough to make my own substitutions and recommendations. For that reason, I give Sally’s Baking Addiction all the credit for this recipe. I also highly recommend that you click the link below and read all her helpful tips for making the best Hot Cross Buns you can!
Hot Cross Buns
(Original recipe: Sally’s Baking Addiction)
3/4 C whole milk, warmed to about 110°F
2-1/4 tsp (or 1 standard packet) active dry or instant yeast
1 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 C packed brown sugar
5 TBSP butter, softened to room temperature and cut into 5 pieces
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice
3-1/2 C all-purpose or bread flour, spoon & leveled
1 C raisins or currants
1/2 C all-purpose or bread flour
6–8 TBSP water
1 C confectioners’ sugar
3 TBSP orange juice
Whisk the milk, yeast, and granulated sugar together in the bowl of your stand mixer. Cover and allow mixture to sit for about 5 minutes or until foamy on top.
Add the brown sugar, butter, vanilla extract, eggs, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and 1 C of flour. Using the dough hook or paddle attachment, mix on low speed for 30 seconds, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then add the remaining flour and the raisins. Beat on low speed until the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 2 minutes. Dough should be a little sticky and soft. If it’s too sticky and not pulling away from the sides of the bowl, mix in additional flour 1 TBSP at a time.
Keep the dough in the mixer and beat for an additional 3 minutes or knead by hand on a lightly floured surface for 3 minutes.
Lightly grease a large bowl with oil or nonstick spray. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it to coat all sides in the oil. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or a clean kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise in a relatively warm environment for 1-2 hours or until double in size.
Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan or two 9-inch square or round baking pans. You can also bake the rolls in a cast iron skillet or on a lined baking sheet.
When the dough is ready, punch it down to release the air. Divide the dough into 14-16 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball, pinching it on the bottom to seal. Arrange in prepared baking pan. Cover shaped rolls with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or a clean kitchen towel. Allow to rise until puffy, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
Whisk the cross ingredients together, starting with 6 TBSP of water. You want a thick paste that will pipe easily. Add remaining water if needed. Spoon paste into a piping bag or zipped-top bag. (No need to use a piping tip if using a piping bag.) Snip off a small piece at the corner. Pipe a line down the center of each row of buns, then repeat in the other direction to create crosses.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown on top, rotating the pan halfway through. If you notice the tops browning too quickly, loosely tent the pan with aluminum foil. Remove from the oven and allow rolls to cool for a few minutes as you prepare the icing.
Whisk the icing ingredients together, then drizzle or brush on warm rolls. Serve immediately.