Hot Cross Buns have long been one of my very favorite Easter traditions. Cut in half and smothered in butter or jelly or clotted cream, they are a gorgeous breakfast or dessert. While I had heard the children’s song many times, I never really knew what Hot Cross Buns were until I moved to the UK when I was 19. My first Easter in England presented me with my first opportunity to sample this traditional bread, and it became a favorite meal for spring time.
One of my biggest annoyances since moving back to the US is that Hot Cross Buns here are not the same. In the original version, the “crosses” on the buns are made from dough, and they are baked right onto the buns. In the US, though, they are usually piped on with some sort of sugary glaze.
A friend recently made a batch of the American version, and she graciously allowed me to share them here. While they aren’t exactly the same as the ones I ate in England, they are still pretty darn good. I mean, who doesn’t love icing?
Here’s what you’ll need:
4 cups flour
1 tbs baking powder
1 1/4 cups warm milk
1 tbsp active dry yeast
3 tbsp butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup dried currants or raisins
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp milk
To begin, mix together warm milk, butter, sugar and yeast in a stand mixer for three minutes, then let it stand for five minutes.
In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt.
Slowly add the flour mixture to the yeast mixture, and blend on medium speed until incorporated.
Add in the cinnamon and nutmeg and then blend again.
Fold in the currants/raisins, cover and let sit for 1 hour to let it rise.
After an hour, divide the dough into small 2-3 inch balls on a baking sheet. Let stand for another ten minutes or so.
Bake your buns at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. When done, transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Make your icing by whisking milk and powdered sugar together vigorously until smooth. Add more milk if the mixture is too stiff.
Drizzle icing onto your buns in a cross shape.
Serve warm or cooled as is your preference. I love to cut mine in half and toast them, though that can be messy with this version since the icing may melt. They are so flavorful and tasty, though, so any way you choose to eat them, you will enjoy the flavor.