I grew up eating hot cross buns at Easter. My mom would come back from the grocery store with a bag filled with a double layer of 8 hot crossed buns. We’d heat them up in the oven for a few minutes and then eat the warm buns for breakfast. The only thing I hated about the buns was that they were always studded with candied fruit, which I’d pick out and leave on my plate in a little heinous pile. Candied fruits are the roots of all evil and I had no idea why someone would sully a perfectly good treat with those little bites of raunch.
I haven’t had a hot cross bun in years and while strumming through an old Betty Crocker kid’s cookbook that I had thrifted ages ago, I came across a perfect recipe. Why was it so perfect? Well, truth is, I’m intimidated by baking with yeast. I don’t know why, but somehow I associate baking bread with serious devotion….an undertaking I didn’t feel quite ready to tackle. Until now. I mean, this recipe is meant to be made by children, so really, how hard can it be? I felt perfectly at home trying this recipe instead of one I had been eying for years which seemed too complex and frightening for a newbie like me.
For a greenhorn, I chose right. It may not be as authentic as Delia’s, but my hot cross buns were delicious (my husband called them delectable) and I was able to get over my fear of baking with yeast in one fell swoop. They were light and crispy on the outsides just out of the oven and the icing I doctored with vanilla and cinnamon was the perfect accompaniment. Plus, the best part was that I subbed out those nasty candied fruits with fresh orange zest to wonderful effect! The fruity orange essence was present without those god-awful bitter vile beasties. Oh yah, let my bread baking adventures begin! It’s on, bitches.
hot cross buns with cinnamon icing
1 c warm water (not too hot)
1 pkg. active dry yeast
2 T sugar
2 1/4 c flour
1 t salt
1 1/2 t cinnamon
2 pinches nutmeg
2 T butter, softened
1/2 c raisins
zest from 1 orange
2 heaping T icing sugar (powdered sugar)
a drop or two of milk
1/2 t vanilla
1/4 t cinnamon
1. In a mixing bowl, disolve yeast into water and stir in sugar. Wait until the yeast doubles in volume (this is called proofing the yeast – if it doesn’t, you’ve got bum yeast. Try again with another packet). Stir in half of the flour, salt and spices. Add in egg and butter and mix well. Add in rest of the flour along with the raisins and zest and beat until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and cover the bowl with a cloth, letting rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
2. Oil up a large muffin tin and set aside. Stir down the batter and spoon dough into prepared muffin cups filling half full. Cover tin with cloth and let rise until doubled in volume, another 30 minutes. Heat oven to 400 degrees and bake for 15 minutes or so until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.
3. Prepare frosting by mixing together icing sugar with a few drops of milk and vanilla. Stir in cinnamon, adding another droplet of milk if necessary to get a smooth, creamy consistency. When buns have cooled, use a spoon to drizzle icing over the buns forming a cross. Place on a plate to catch any drippings.