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Have you ever read a recipe and just had to rush into the kitchen to make it? That happened to me today when I read about Hot Cross Buns. I had not made them in twenty years and they are delightfully yummy. The dough is a butter-egg rich dough — like a brioche — flavored with currants and spices, then iced with a powdered sugar cross.

I was intrigued by the liberal use of spices in this recipe (1 teaspoon per cup of flour), since I just finished reading The Taste of Conquest by Michael Krondl, which is our culinary book club selection for June. I heartily recommend this history of the spice trade in Europe from 1200 to 1700, because now I understand why hot cross buns are full of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, mace, and cloves. Those aromas perfumed my kitchen while the buns were baking and they are intoxicatingly delicious. Please read the book and join us for a discussion on June 22.

Meanwhile, here is my slight variation on Alanna Kellogg’s hot cross bun recipe.

Hot Cross Buns

  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup dried currants
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • grated zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon freshly-ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon star anise (ground in a mortar and pestle)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons butter, cut up
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • egg wash: 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon water

Warm the milk to about 110 degrees and dissolve the yeast and teaspoon of sugar and let sit for five minutes. Warm the brandy, remove from the heat, and let the currants soak for about five minutes to plump up, then drain. Combine the flours, spices, and salt. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients. Add the citrus zest, milk, eggs, and currants. Knead until the dough is smooth, about 10 minutes. Place the dough in a bowl and place in a warm spot for an hour, or until the dough has doubled in size. Cut the dough into 24 small pieces and roll each piece into a smooth ball. Place on a lined baking sheet and let rise in a warm spot for about 30 minutes. Brush the rolls with the egg wash. Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Let cool and then ice. For the icing, mix one cup of powdered sugar with 1 tablespoon heavy cream and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Place in a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip and then ice the buns.

2 Comments for “One a Penny, Hot Cross Buns”  

  1. Alanna

    Now my mother has “three” hot cross bun reasons to beam from heaven! I find your making these so touching — thank you!