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Springtime Treat: Hot Cross Buns

Hot cross buns are synonymous with Easter, especially in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. They are traditionally served on Good Friday to mark the end of Lent. There are many variations to baking them, but hot cross buns are generally made with an enriched dough and filled with a warm mix of spices and dried fruit, piped with a cross on top, and finished with a sweet, sticky glaze.

And whether you celebrate the holiday or not, hot cross buns are a wonderful springtime treat that can be enjoyed by all! Best served fresh from the oven and dripping with butter. 

Hot Cross Buns for Easter

Hot Cross Buns

What you need

Yield: 12 buns

Buns

Flour Cross

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 7 tbsp. water

Simple Sugar Glaze

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Instructions

Pour flour, yeast, salt, sugar, and spices in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, followed by the beaten egg, melted butter, and warm milk, and then mix on low to medium speed. When it’s all combined, increase to a medium to high speed for about 10 to 15 minutes. You can stop kneading once the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Add the dried fruit to the mixing bowl and on a low speed, gently mix until it’s well combined.

Proofing the Dough

[Note: The rising time may vary, depending on how warm your kitchen is. If you don't have a toasty place for the dough, try putting it in the oven. Turn the oven on its lowest temperature and once it's done preheating, turn the oven off and place the dough inside.]

Transfer the dough to a large, lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set the bowl in a warm spot for one hour to rise. 

After one hour, the dough should now be doubled in size.  Turn the dough over onto a lightly floured surface and set the bowl aside. (It will be super sticky. So you may want to flour your hands as well.) Next, pull and stretch the dough back into itself a few times to remove any large pockets of air.

Place the dough back in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set in a warm spot for another hour to allow the dough to rise.

Shaping the Buns

Once again, turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. With a bread scraper or knife, divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Using the palm of your hand, shape each bun by rolling it against the floured surface in a circular motion and pinching the bottom to seal. Transfer each bun on a lined baking sheet and position it about an inch or so apart. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Cover the buns with the plastic wrap once more and allow to rise for another 40 to 60 minutes in the warm spot. They should increase in size and be just about touching. You can also give the dough a poke and it should spring right back.

Flour Cross

While the buns prove for the final time, you can make the solution for the flour crosses.

Add flour and water in a bowl and whisk together until it has a smooth, paste-like consistency. It should be thick enough to hold a shape, but also thin enough to pipe. Transfer the mix to a piping or plastic bag and set aside.

Once the buns are done rising and ready to bake, tip the cut off the bag and pipe down the center of all the buns at the same time and repeat in the other direction to form a cross.

Time to Bake!

Preheat oven to 375F. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they’re nice and golden. Let cool for five minutes before brushing the tops with the simple sugar glaze (see below).

Simple Sugar Glaze

In a saucepan, bring ¼ cup water and ¼ cup sugar to a boil over low heat. Boil for another minute, or until the syrup thickens. Brush over the buns.

Slice in half, slather with butter, and serve immediately.

Cover any leftover rolls in a tightly sealed container and store at room temperature. To enjoy the next day(s), split in half, toast each side, and slather with butter.