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
30 minutes before starting the buns, put the currants in a small saucepan, just covered with water.
Over medium heat, bring to a boil, and drain. Move the drained currants to a small bowl, sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons of water, and leave the currants to rest until needed.
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.
Add the butter into the milk, still remaining in the saucepan (off heat). Stir occasionally as it melts.
To the warmed milk in the mixing bowl, add in the yeast and the sugar. Whisk together gently, and let proof.
In another bowl, whisk together the eggs with the golden sugar and salt.
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.
In another bowl, add in 7 cups flour with the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves, and whisk together until uniform.
Gently whisk in the milk, butter, and egg mixture into the proofed yeast.
Whisk in ⅓ of the mixed dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.
Place the mixing bowl onto the mixer, with the paddle attachment.
Add in another ⅓ of the dry ingredients, and mix until it is uniform.
Switch to the dough hook, and add in the remaining ⅓ of the dry ingredients. Knead until you have smooth, soft dough.
Add in the prepared currants, along with the orange zest.
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.
Lift the dough from the bowl, and lightly grease the bowl, return the dough to the bowl, and invert it once to grease the top.
Cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1 – 2 hours.
Once doubled, punch down the dough, and let rest for 15 minutes.
Using your hands, press one of the halves into rectangle about 7” x 12”.
Set the rectangle lengthwise across your work area.
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”).
You should end up with 24 buns, (each weighing about 90 gr each / 3 oz)
Let the buns rise for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 °
Whisk together the egg yolks and tablespoon of water.
Uncover the buns. Using scissors or a sharp knife or blade, cut a cross into each bun (after all that’s the whole point!).
Brush all the buns with the egg wash. Try to avoid the cut areas.
Bake for 20 minutes, until golden.
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.