Growing up, my family wasn't very traditional when it came to Easter. We got Easter baskets and stuff, sure, but I didn't grow up learning what Easter was really about until I went to Catholic school. (And trust me, that was a shock!) Needless to say, I've never had hot cross buns, but this year, I decided to make some because hey, yeast-bread carbohydrates with cinnamon and sugar can't be bad, right?
Here's the recipe I followed:
2 cups Whole Milk
1/2 cup Canola Oil
1/2 cup Sugar
1 package (2 1/4 Teaspoons) Active Dry Yeast
4 cups All-purpose Flour
1/2 cup (additional) Flour
1/2 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
2 teaspoons Salt
1/4 cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon ginger
1/2 cup Raisins, soaked in about 1 tablespoon of water to rehydrate
(Frosting is some I had in the freezer. It's a cream cheese recipe I tried that went badly, although it still tastes pretty good.)
In a saucepan, combine milk, oil, and sugar. Warm until just about to boil. Allow to cool for about 10-15 minutes, then pour into a larger bowl and allow to cool a little longer. You want the water to still be very warm to the touch, but not hot. You really have to go by sense -- the reason is, you're going to add the yeast at some point and too hot of liquid is going to kill your yeast and your bread won't rise. However, if it's not warm enough, it will also not rise. I always go for "warm bath temperature": if it's too hot to soak in, you don't want to put your yeast in.
Once it's cooled down, sprinkle in one packet, or 2 1/4 teaspoons of yeast. Then add your four cups of flour and stir. The dough will be very wet. Cover with a towel and allow to rise for about an hour, or until doubled in size. Once you're there, add in the 1/2 cup of flour, baking soda, salt, and baking power. Knead to combine. In a bowl combine sugar and spices. In another bowl, rehydrate your raisins a little bit in some water (or, if you're feeling very festive, vodka or run.) Flour a surface and spread the dough out. You can use a rolling pin or your hands -- rolling out until a little thicker than 3/4 inch (but not 1 inch). Sprinkle with 1/3 of the sugar mix and then add about 1/3 of the raisins. Fold the dough over and roll out again. Sprinkle with sugar, then raisins, and fold over again. And repeat it one more time.
Once you've got all your sugar and raisins folded in, it's time to form them into balls! Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and prepare two baking sheets -- butter them or spray with cooking spray. Grab a small amount of dough -- about a golf ball size or a little larger -- and roll into a ball. Then smooth the top and fold the ball under itself -- basically, this creates a smooth flawless top. It's completely optional though.
Place on a baking sheet. Once you have them all rolled out, cover with towels and set aside, allowing them to rise/rest for 30 minutes or an hour. While you're waiting, separate an egg and mix the egg yolk with a little bit of milk. When your rolls have risen, brush on a little bit of eggwash and pop in the over for 20 minutes. Keep an eye on them! Some of mine got a little dark on the bottom. Once they're done, pull from the oven and let cool.
Use any white frosting you like -- you can use vanilla from a can, cream cheese, or you can mix powdered sugar, water, and egg white (I used powdered) together to make a royal icing. Using a spoon, make a cross on the top. Voila! Hot cross buns!
They are very tasty! They are essentially a cinnamon roll all rolled up in itself, which really, there is no way you can go wrong with that. The icing on top is a nice touch -- it adds a little moisture and tangy sweetness to the sweet, dry roll.
I hope you're having a good Tuesday!