I had no idea Hot Cross Buns were so easy and so wonderful. SO completely wonderful. Wonderful. I plan to make them often. I used the same recipe for the dough that I make my sticky buns with AND I made them with freshly ground hard white wheat. I love my fresh flour. I’ll never go back. But even if you haven’t got the fresh flour you need to make these.
For the dough
1 cup milk
2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons yeast
1 cup warm water
7 cups white, all purpose flour OR 6 cups freshly ground whole wheat flour + 6 teaspoons gluten flour
currents or raisins
sugar and spices for sprinkling
For the frosting:
1 egg white
1. In a small saucepan, scald the milk by heating it over medium heat until bubbles form around the edges.
2. Cut the butter into small pieces and put into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, along with the sugar and salt. Pour the milk into the bowl with the butter and stir around to melt the butter.
3. Next pour the water into a medium sized bowl and sprinkle the yeast over the top and allow to sit until foamy about 3-4 minutes.
4. Test the temperature of the milk mixture, if it is warm but not hot, add the eggs and the yeast and stir around to combine. With the mixer running start adding the flour, one cup at a time until the dough comes together and pulls away from the edges of the bowl. Knead for about 3-4 minutes, you want the dough to be smooth and stretchy but a little bit sticky at the same time.
5. Once it is done kneading, move the dough to a buttered bowl and cover with a clean tea towel and allow to rise until doubled. I like to turn my oven on to the lowest setting, about 200º and then turn it off and set the bowl on the top so it has nice warm cozy place to rise. This should take about 2 hours, unless of course you live at high altitude, mine was ready after an hour.
6. Once the dough is ready mix together some sugar, you don’t need a lot, maybe 1/2 cup and whatever spices sound good, I used cinnamon, a little ginger and a little ground cloves but you do what sounds good to you. Ok so mix those together in a little bowl and get out your currants or raisins. Then on a lightly floured just press the dough out so it’s sorta flat like, about 1/2″ thick or so, then sprinkle about a tablespoon of the sugar mixture over the dough and a handful of currants and then fold the dough over itself so the currants and sugar are enveloped in the dough. Then repeat the procedure about 4-5 more times. Then you are ready to make the buns.
7. Tear off about a golf ball size hunk of dough and shape into a ball, start by rolling of between your hands and get it as round as you can, then sort of stretch the top layer of dough around and gather all the seams up in a bunch on the bottom if the bun. I usually sort of cup it in my hands and use my thumbs to stretch the dough down and under.
8. Place seam side down on a baking sheet, repeat until you have used all the dough. Cover with a clean tea towel and let rise for an hour. Then make an egg wash (just an egg and about a tablespoon of water mixed together) and brush the tops of each of the buns with it. Then bake at 350º for about 20 minutes or until the buns are all brown and golden on top.
9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely – this is the point at which Jeremiah and I started tasting and they were AMAZING right out of the oven!
10. Once they are completely cool, put the egg white in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and beat for a couple seconds to break it up, then add some powdered sugar, I probably did about 2 cups and then a couple tablespoons of heavy cream – go SLOW adding the cream though! You want a nice thick frosting and powdered sugar icing can get thin and runny very quickly. If it’s too thick you can continue adding cream a couple drops at a time until it is the right consistency.
11. Then you can use a piping bag or just put the frosting in a ziploc and cut a corner off and pipe the ‘cross’ on each bun.