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This is a very rich dough. Meaning that it is full of milk, butter and eggs. Add dried and candied fruit to the mix and you end up with a dough that will seem to take forever to double. The first rise will take up to two hours. The second up to an hour and a half and then the third will take 30 minutes. You will want to be sure to have plenty of time to make these when you choose to undertake this recipe because it will be time consuming.
I started by mixing everything together in my Bosch mixer. Then the dough was kneaded for 7 minutes. Then risen twice before being formed into rolls.
Step by Step Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine milk, sugar, eggs, butter and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a dough hook. Mix on low to combine.
Add spices and salt to the bowl along with half of the flour. Blend to combine.
Add dried fruit and candied peel and stir well to incorporate.
Add remaining flour to the bowl and knead for 7 minutes. Dough will be very sticky.
Remove dough to an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a towel or both and allow to rest in a warm place for one hour or until doubled in size.
Once dough has doubled, remove from bowl to an oiled surface and gently deflate. Form into a ball and return to the oiled bowl to rise once more for one hour.
After the second rise, deflate the dough and divide into 16 equal pieces. I like to use a scale for this.
Roll dough into smooth balls using the “cupped hand” method, by cupping your hand around the dough and gently pressing into the counter while gently rotating the dough until it is smooth.
Place rolls onto a baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper.
Make the paste for the “cross”, by blending together the flour, sugar and water to form a paste that will be slightly thicker than pancake batter. Place this paste into a piping bag or a zip top bag that you will snip off the corner to pipe with.
Pipe the cross paste onto the awaiting buns in a cross pattern.
Cover baking sheet with a damp towel or parchment paper and allow the rolls to rest for 30 minutes. I like to preheat my oven, now.
When rolls have doubled in size, bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from oven and place on a wire rack.
While buns are still warm, brush with warm golden syrup or apple jelly to form an nice sticky glaze on top.
Allow to cool before serving.
Store buns in an airtight container for up to 3 days. If they last that long!
The cross on top of the buns can be made the traditional way as I have shared here using a paste made from flour water and sugar that is applied prior to baking so the cross bakes right into the bun or you can opt to skip that process and make a thick icing of powdered sugar and water and apply it to the top after the buns are cooled. I highly recommend going the extra mile and doing the paste because it really is amazing. Once the buns are baked, they are glazed with golden syrup that has been heated enough to have it liquefy. If you don't have golden syrup, you can use melted apple jelly to attain the sweet, sticky glaze that you traditionally find on hot cross buns.
Hot cross buns have a rich history, according to Smithsonian Magazine here are some of the traditions and superstitions associated with them:
They stay fresh for a whole year.
If you hang a hot cross bun from your kitchen rafters on Good Friday, legend has it that the bread will remain fresh and mold-free throughout the entire year. This hearkens back to the body of Christ, which, according to the Bible, did not show any signs of decay after his crucifixion and prior to his resurrection. The bun should be replaced each year on Good Friday. Later in the year, the buns were sometimes broken up, mixed with water and treated as a medicine,
They expel bad spirits.
Due to the blessed cross on top, hot cross buns hung in the kitchen are supposed to protect from evil spirits. They're also said to prevent kitchen fires from breaking out, and ensure that all breads baked that year will turn out perfectly delicious. Likewise, taking hot cross buns on a voyage at sea endows the boat with some protection from shipwreck, according to legend.
And cement friendships.
Those who share a hot cross bun are supposed to enjoy a strong friendship and bond for the next year. A line from an old rhyme captures this idea: "Half for you and half for me, between us two, good luck shall be."
They're too sacred to eat any old day.
In 1592, Queen Elizabeth I decreed that hot cross buns could no longer be sold on any day except for Good Friday, Christmas or for burials. They were simply too special to be eaten any other day.
I hope you give this recipe for hot cross buns a try this year and I hope you love it!
If you cannot find the candied orange peel, like I have used in this recipe, you can use the zest of one orange. This will give you that orange essence that gives these buns their amazing flavor. You can find candied orange peel at Amazon here: http://alexa.design/2ny51EB
The traditional recipe calls for cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg or allspice. I have used a healthy dose of my Holiday Hearth seasoning mix. You can find my video for that here: http://bit.ly/2en6A1U
I have used golden raisins, which are also known as sultanas in some places as well as currants. You can use light and dark raisins if you like or a mixture of candied fruit, if that is something you have on hand. Just be sure to add up the amounts. Adding too much fruit to this dough will be problematic and cause the dough to become even heavier and take longer to rise.