Good Fridays, for many years, were spent making dozens of hot cross buns to share with our family and friends over the Easter weekend. Ready to be delivered to homes to be enjoyed. Every year I’d tweak the recipe a bit for each batch, always starting with a basic sweet dough made with milk & butter. Sometimes too much spice sometimes not quite enough, and working towards the right combination. Always the purist, I would stick with currants as the only fruit, with the exception of some orange zest.
When I took out the recipe for this year’s I was reminded of the many years of development, by the fact that I have attached all my ideas into a stapled wad of pages. The top page is the “final” version, and the one that I’m sharing with you. These are very simple to make, and have good staying power, so if they’re made on Good Friday, they’ll last well through the Easter weekend.
1 c currants
2 c milk (1½ c + ½ c)
½ c butter (room temperature), cut into pieces (4oz/113 gr)
2 T yeast
1 T sugar
½ c golden sugar
2 t salt
7 – 8 c flour
2 T cinnamon
1 t ginger
1 t nutmeg
½ t ground cloves
zest & juice from 1 orange
2 egg yolks
1 T water
2 c icing sugar
Heat the 2 cups of milk in a saucepan over medium-low heat until it is between 115° & 120°, just warm to the touch, and take off the heat.
Put ½ cup of the warmed milk into the bowl of a mixer.
Slowly whisk the milk and butter mixture into the egg mixture. It’s okay if there are still some small pieces of butter that haven’t finished melting.
Gently whisk in the milk, butter, and egg mixture into the proofed yeast.
Place the mixing bowl onto the mixer, with the paddle attachment.
At this point, continue kneading until you have soft, workable dough that pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl. You may need to add some more flour (up to a cup), depending on the moisture content of the currants. The total kneading time will be 6 – 7 minutes.
Using your hands, press one of the halves into rectangle about 7” x 12”.
Roll it into a log.
Set on a parchment lined baking sheet, fairly close together, and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
Repeat with the remaining half of your dough.
Add to the first dozen already arranged on a baking sheet, or use a second baking sheet if smaller than a half sheet size (18” x 13”).
Let the buns rise for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 °
Whisk together the egg yolks and tablespoon of water.
Mix the icing sugar and some of the juice of the orange. Adjusting either to make an icing that is soft enough to drizzle, but not so wet as to run off.
Put the icing into a small Ziploc type bag. Trim off one of the bottom corners at an angle about ¼ inch.
Drizzle the icing into the crosses.
Your Hot Cross Buns are now ready to share with others. They can be cut apart, or pulled off one at a time. Either way, they will make someone’s Easter extra special.