Hot cross buns are a traditional treat for Easter weekend that originated in England. When I was researching them I found lots of interesting history and superstitions. For instance, hot cross buns were said to last a year without spoiling if they were baked on Good Friday; they were thought to cure illness and protect from evil spirits; they would save sailors from shipwreck; and they would even protect against kitchen fires and ensure successful baking if one was hung in the kitchen. During the rest of the year, some bakeries now sell NOT Cross Buns with smiley faces piped on them, to show that the buns aren’t angry <<groan>>. Goofy superstitions and smiley faces aside, these rolls are delicious any time and this recipe makes a great addition to your baking repertoire.
One of the ingredients that caught my eye in a few of the hot cross bun recipes from England was an ingredient called “mixed spice”. We have lots of spices in our house and I’ve been baking for years and years, but I had never heard of mixed spice. With more research I discovered that it’s an English combination of several of the baking spices that I love. All those lovely dark spices give the buns their gorgeous color and fill your house with their incredible warm spicy aromas while the buns are baking. Since I first discovered it, I’ve made and used mixed spice with great results in other recipes, so now I keep a jar of it in my spice cabinet.
This is a lot more dough than I usually make.
I had a feeling that the dough was going to be a quick riser, so I kept an eye on it and caught it trying to escape.
I lightly oiled my kitchen counter (less of a mess than using flour when working with yeast doughs, and easier to clean up when you’re done), then weighed out the dough at exactly 70 grams (2.5 ounces) for each roll and got 36. I shaped and arranged two dozen on a half sheet pan (13″ by 18″) and put the other dozen on a quarter sheet pan (13″ by 9″). We own two of each size and they’re hard-working favorites that I got at Sam’s Club several years ago. They’re commercial weight so they’ve never warped and they’re easy to clean. I have no affiliation with Sam’s Club, but I love these pans and they’re still a great bargain at less than $11 for two.
The sheetpans are the perfect size for the amount of rolls; they have room to expand during their final proof so they touch just enough that their sides stay soft when they’re baked.
The rolls were done in 23 minutes and registered 195°F on my instant-read thermometer.
After the rolls are mostly cool, pipe the icing decoration on, and serve the still-slightly-warm hot cross buns with butter and coffee, tea, or milk. Forget the calendar and make hot cross buns any time of year.
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Thanks, and bon appetit!
- 1/4 cup (2 fluid oz, 60 ml) water, 105°F
- 1 pkg active yeast
- 3/4 cup (6 fluid oz, 180 ml) milk, 105°F
- 2-1/2 cups (10.6 oz, 315 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (3.5 oz, 100 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, slightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon mixed spice (see recipe below)
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons (1 oz, 28 grams) butter, melted and cooled
- 2 tablespoons (1 fluid oz) canola oil
- 2-1/2 cups (10.6 oz, 315 grams) bread flour, divided
- 3/4 cup (3.5 oz, 125g) Zante currants
- 3/4 cup (3.5 oz, 125g) golden raisins
- 1 cup (4 1/2 oz, 128 grams) confectioners' sugar, sifted
- 1/4 teaspoon each vanilla & almond extract
- pinch of table salt
- 4 teaspoons milk
- 1 Tbs ground allspice
- 1 Tbs ground cinnamon
- 1 Tbs ground nutmeg
- 2 tsp ground mace
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- Add the the yeast to the water in the mixer bowl and allow it to bloom for a few minutes while you gather your other ingredinets.
- Add the milk, all-purpose flour, and sugar to the yeast and beat it well with the flat paddle, then add the egg, mixed spice, salt, melted & cooled butter, oil, and half of the bread flour, and beat well until smooth.
- Switch to the dough hook and add the remaining bread flour and the dried fruit, then knead on speed 2 for 5 to 7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the fruit is evenly distributed..
- Turn the dough into a lightly oiled container and let rise, covered, until double, 45 to 60 minutes.
- Turn out onto a lightly oiled counter and divide and shape into 12 to 18 round smooth balls.
- Place dough balls on a greased or parchment lined sheetpan; cover and let rise till double, 60 to 90 minutes.
- Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 20 to 23 minutes until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the middle of a roll registers 190°F to 200°F.
- Remove from the sheetpan and cool on a rack before icing.
- Combine all the ingredients and beat with a wooden spoon to make a smooth and thick mixture.
- Scrape into a disposable icing bag with a #8 frosting tube, or spoon it into a heavy duty zip-lock bag, then cut off a tiny corner and pipe a cross on top of the rolls.
- Combine the spices and store in a tightly covered glass jar away from heat and light.
I strongly suggest that you weigh your ingredients, especially flour, to be sure that your dough has the proper consistency for the best results.
You can make this recipe in a bread machine using the dough setting, then follow the rest of the instructions here for shaping, rising and baking.
Mixed spice is versatile and can be used whenever you'd use pie spice: in hot cereals, on buttered toast when mixed with the sweetener of your choice, or in just about any dessert with apples or dried fruit.
If you want to freeze hot cross buns, add the icing after the rolls have thawed.
There are links in this post to companies and websites with which I have no affiliation but they provide products that I love and use, or information that I find helpful.