The common method of making the cross on top of the bun is with icing sugar and shortcrust pastry. To make the cross look prominent, I have made a dough with flour and water, rolled and cut into 1/4" strips that were placed on top of the buns with beaten eggs. Once baked, the buns are usually glazed with jam for a glistening finish. Surprisingly, mine had a glossy shine with the beaten egg thereby requiring no glaze. They can be eaten with or without butter or jam. The family enjoyed the buns with a demand to bake some more.
There are many superstitions and myths behind hot cross buns. If baked on Good Friday, they will never go mouldy the entire year. Moreover, if the hot cross bun was kept from one Good Friday to the next, it would protect the house from fire. Bakers believed that hanging a hot cross bun in the kitchen would ensure well risen baked products. Sailors carried hot cross buns on their voyage with the belief that their ships wouldn't sink. For friendship to last forever, friends would gift one another with hot cross buns. Whatever the superstitious beliefs, hot cross buns are definitely sweet, delicious and a delightful Easter treat.
(Yields 10 or 12)
3 1/2 to 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon clove powder
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup butter (melted)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs (lightly beaten)
2/3 cups currants or raisins
1/4 cup candied mixed peel or diced candied orange peel (optional)
1 egg (lightly beaten for coating)
Heat milk, butter and sugar until slightly warm to the touch not hot. Add the yeast and set aside for 5 minutes. The yeast will foam and froth.
- If milk mixture is very hot, allow it to come down to lukewarm before adding the yeast.
Sift the flour, transfer to a mixing bowl with the spice powders, eggs, salt and milk mixture. Using a dough hook attachment, run the mixer on low to medium speed to form a soft dough. (I used 3 3/4 cups of flour.)
Stir in currants or raisins and candied mixed peel or diced candied orange peel.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, knead and shape into a ball. (The dough was perfect to the touch and did not require any flour for dusting.)
Place dough in a greased bowl, turning once. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
Punch dough down. Cover and let it rest for 10 minutes. Divide dough into 10 or 12 equal smooth balls. Place balls 1 1/2 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment sheet. Cover and let rise till nearly double, about 1 hour.
For the cross:
Make a dough with 1/2 cup flour and 3 to 4 tablespoons of water. Roll into a 8” circle and cut 1/4” strips. (No need of adding sugar or salt to the dough.)
Preheat oven to 375 F or 190 C.
Brush the buns with beaten egg. Place strips on each bun to make a cross and brush again with egg.
Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.
To glaze buns, melt 2 tablespoons of jam in the microwave. Brush buns for a glossy finish.
For powdered sugar icing cross, refer to recipe link below:
- The recipe has been modified with the quantity of flour reduced to yield perfect soft buns.
- To make cross with icing (picture below), mix 3/4 cup of icing sugar with 3 1/4 teaspoons of milk. Pour in a ziploc bag and cut a small hole at the bottom of one corner to pipe.
Note: Do not pipe when buns are hot.