The trick to perfect hot cross buns is a generous amount of fruit and a delicate hand for dough. The buns are peppered with raisins, so with every bite of a hot cross bun, you get a burst of warm spices and juicy raisins. Hot cross buns are an Easter staple in many parts of the world, especially in Australia and the United Kingdom. The crosses on the bread are in honor of Good Friday, marking the end of Lent. These buns are best enjoyed warm, fresh from the oven. That’s when they’re at the peak in terms of softness. As the bread cools down, it’s texture will change. Once you’ve mastered the original recipe, feel free to start experimenting with chocolate, orange-cranberry and caramel varieties.
Hot Cross Buns Recipe
1 cup whole milk (warmed)
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 cup raisins (plus boiling water soaking liquid)
2 large eggs (at room temperature)
3 tbsp unsalted butter (melted)
4 cups + 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp half and half or heavy cream (for brushing)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp granulated white sugar
2 tbsp whole milk
6 tbsp water
2 tbsp apricot jam
1 tbsp water
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine warm milk, yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Allow mixture to sit for 5 to 7 minutes until yeast is activated and mixture is fragrant and foamy. Add raisins to a heatproof bowl and enough boiling water to cover raisins. Allow raisins to soak for 5 minutes. Drain well and set aside plump raisins. Pour remaining sugar, eggs and melted butter to stand mixer bowl. Whisk to combine until well incorporated.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. With the mixer running on low speed, add about 1/3 of flour mixture. Once incorporated, add remaining 1/3 of flour mixture. Add drained raisins, followed with remaining flour mixture. Once dough has formed, increase speed to medium-high and knead dough for 3 to 5 minutes until dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. Transfer dough to a greased bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel. Allow dough to sit covered at room temperature for about 1 hour until dough has doubled in volume.
Remove cover and gently deflate risen dough. Divide dough into 12 equal portions. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll into round balls. Place on a parchment lined 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover with kitchen towel or plastic wrap. Let dough rest at room temperature for 30 to 40 minutes until the balls of dough are touching each other. Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a small bowl, mix together flour, sugar, milk and water until wet paste forms. Transfer runny mixture to a piping bag with a small round tip. Pipe straight lines vertically and horizontally across risen buns to create crosses. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and brush half & half over buns. Return to oven and bake for another 15 minutes until the bread is golden brown on top. Mix together apricot jam and water until smooth. Use a pastry brush to lightly coat warm buns with glaze.