Easter wasn’t a time of egg hunts or chocolate bunnies when we were kids. It was all about going to church, listening to our dad read the bible on Good Friday, watching King Of Kings on TV and how could one forget the special fish lunch. It was a time when our mom would do her usual magic in the kitchen with ground provisions (yam, sweet potato, dasheen.. even some green banana would make an appearance), served up with tasty stewed fish. Dad would drizzle olive oil over his heaping plate- full and being our hero.. myself and my brother would follow. Our sisters have never been into the ground provision thing, so they were never as happy as us. However the hot cross buns did put a smile on everyone’s face.
BTW… we hated the fact that according to some superstition, we were not allowed to go swimming on Good Friday. Ever noticed that when you’re not allowed to do something how much you ‘really’ want to do it? Yea, my brother and I did sneak off the odd time and get our swim on with friends.
Let’s make some hot cross buns.
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 large egg
1/3 cup mixed fruit
1/3 cup currants
1 pack instant yeast (about 8g)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar (granulated)
1/4 cup golden brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground clove (optional)
5 tablespoon butter (melted)
1 cup milk (warm)
For the egg wash:
– 1 egg
– 1 tablespoon milk
For the frosting:
– 1/2 cup powder sugar (icing sugar)
Notes: Traditionally I believe currants are used but I used raisins instead (what I had) and the ground clove is indeed a good addition, but I did this recipe without and it was just as fantastic.
The very first thing we need to do, is to get the yeast to bloom. Add the yeast to the cup of warm milk and stir in the teaspoon of granulated sugar. The yeast will feed off the sugar as it does it’s thing. Place the this bowl with the warm milk, yeast and sugar in a warm corner of your kitchen. It can take between 5 and 10 minutes to fully bloom. You’ll see a sort of frothy/foamy surface.
In a large bowl (or you can use a stand up mixer if you have one) sift in the flour and spices (cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice), then add the brown sugar and give it a good mix. Now add the yeast mixture, beat the egg and add… and also the melted butter. Try not to over work. Now add the dried fruits (mixed fruit and currants) and knead. I finished the kneading on a flour dusted surface.
You should have a smooth, soft dough, that’s not wet or soggy. I had to add a couple extra tablespoons of flour to get the right consistency I was looking to achieve. I then got a clean bowl, sprayed it with some cooking spray and placed the dough ball in there. I covered it with plastic wrap and placed it in a warm corner of the kitchen to proof. That can take anywhere from 1.5 to 2 hrs, depending how warm your kitchen is. You’re basically looking for it to double in size. I sprayed the bowl with cooking spray, so it wouldn’t stick as it rose.
Just under 2hrs and my dough was ready to proceed. I then used my fingers to deflate the dough a bit as it did double in size with the help of the yeast. I then divided the main dough into 12 equal smaller dough balls and placed them on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Now it’s time to make the egg wash and to give the buns it’s first brush. In a bowl I whisked the egg and milk.. then with a pastry brush I gave each bun a paining.I then covered them with plastic wrap and again set them aside in a warm coroner of the kitchen to proof further. They will double in size again so remember to leave space between each. It can take up to 1 hr to double in size (but again, this depends on how warm your kitchen is).
After 1 hr (or when they have doubled in size), remove the plastic wrap and get ready to move on. Now may be a good time to preheat your oven to 400F. You can refer to the video below… using scissors, snip a cross on the top of each bun. No need to go too deep. Now give them a final brush with the egg wash.. this will give it it’s glossy, golden look when they’re done baking.
Put the hot cross buns to bake on the middle rack in your oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. You can place a tooth pick through the thickest part of one of the buns and if the tooth pick come out clean, it means the buns are fully cooked. The batch I made was done in 15 minutes flat. Allow to cool before putting the finishing icing or it will melt and you won’t have that ‘cross’ on the top.
In a bowl, whisk the icing sugar and milk until it’s thick and smooth. Now place it into a piping bag and run a strip each way to form a cross on each hot cross bun. If you don’t have a piping bag, you can always use a zip lock bag.. all you have to do is snip a small hole on one corner and use as a piping bag. If you’re anything like me, you won’t be able to resist the temptation while they cooled. I think we ate about 3 of these hot cross buns before the icing went on them. You kitchen (entire house) will have the lovely scent of a bakery.