Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Bun

I know it’s past Easter, but I’m sure I’ll forget which recipe I liked so much if I wait until next year to think about these great rolls we made this year. Plus, I need to share this with a few friends! This bake was inspired by an early morning lament of my good friend that Easter just wasn’t right without Hot Cross Buns. I wholeheartedly agreed, having never had one before, but seeing them many times in some of my favorite Italian bakeries in Rhode Island.  Besides, I love the idea of metaphor and meaning in our food, especially around holy times of the year. Well, at least metaphors that my husband and I can enjoy. This is a great recipe from King Arthur Flour, although I did change things just a little. Can’t wait to bring them out of the oven again next year!

Hot Cross Buns

  • 1/4 c. apple juice
  • 1/2 c. golden raisins
  • 1/4 c. dried currants
  • 1/4 c. candied orange peel (or another 1/4 c. currants or other dried fruit)
  • 1 1/4 c. milk, room temperature
  • 3 large eggs, 1 separated
  • 6 T. butter, room temperature
  • 2 t. instant yeast
  • 1/4 c. light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. ground cloves or allspice
  • 1/4 t. ground nutmeg
  • 1 3/4 t. salt
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 4 1/2 c.  Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

topping

  • 1 large egg white, reserved from above
  • 1 T. milk

icing [Instead, I used Cream Cheese frosting. Perfect!]

  • 1 c. + 2 T. confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 t. milk, or enough to make a thick, pipeable icing

Lightly grease a 10″ square pan or 9″ x 13″ pan.

Mix the apple juice with the dried fruit and raisins, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave briefly, just till the fruit and liquid are very warm, and the plastic starts to “shrink wrap” itself over the top of the bowl. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Note: If you worry about using plastic wrap in your microwave, simply cover the bowl with a glass lid.

When the fruit is cool, mix together all of the dough ingredients except the fruit, and knead, using an electric mixer or bread machine, till the dough is soft and elastic. Mix in the fruit and any liquid not absorbed.

Let the dough rise for 1 hour, covered. It should become puffy, though may not double in bulk.

Divide the dough into billiard ball-sized pieces, about 3 3/4 ounces each. A heaped muffin scoop (about 1/3 cup) makes about the right portion. You’ll make 12 to 14 buns. Use your greased hands to round them into balls. Arrange them in the prepared pan.

Cover the pan, and let the buns rise for 1 hour, or until they’ve puffed up and are touching one another. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375°F.

Whisk together the reserved egg white and milk, and brush it over the buns.

Bake the buns for 20 minutes, until they’re golden brown. Remove from the oven, and transfer to a rack to cool.

Mix together the icing ingredients, and when the buns are completely cool, pipe it in a cross shape atop each bun.

 

Candied Orange Peel

candied orange peel
I’ve tried a few recipes for candied orange peel, and this is the one I like the best. It’s simple and it’s consistently good, though I have to admit I slightly botched it this last time, which is unfortunate since the photo is of this time. You’ll note the extra sugar on the orange peels–I let it go a second too long, and I must have had some sugar in the pot that hadn’t dissolved, hence my small problem. Luckily, it still tastes fine. This recipe comes from a great little book called Brittles, Barks, and Bonbons. Some more reasons I love making candied orange peel: you’re making something out of a product you would otherwise throw away, it can be stored for a long, long time in your fridge, and then I can make my favorite chocolate bark (see my last post). Win win, win.

Candied Orange Peel

5 medium navel oranges, preferably organic (you might also want to try a mix of grapefruit and lemon peels, too)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water

1. Scrub the oranges. Slice the stem end off the orange and place the cut end on a cutting board. Make vertical cuts, about 1 inch apart, all the way through the peel. Carefully peel off the scored sections of rind. With a sharp paring knife, trim away as much of the white pith from the peel as you can. Cut each portion of peel lengthwise into 1/4-inch-wide strips.

2. Place the orange peels in a small pan and add enough cold water to cover. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Drain the peels and set aside.

3. Place the pan over medium-low heat and add the 1 1/2 cups each sugar and water. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the orange peels to the simple syrup and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and translucent, about 40 minutes.

4. Place a wire cooling rack over a rimmed baking sheet lined with wax paper. Use a slotted spoon or tongs to transfer the peels to the rack. Let stand until still slightly tacky but almost dry, about 1 hour.