I didn’t think hot cross buns were in the stars for me this weekend, but -almost without thinking about it- I warmed some milk and butter and proofed some yeast as I made coffee this morning, and then suddenly they were in the works. I still had currants left over from Christmas fruitcake-baking, after all – it would be a shame not to bake a batch. Right?
Hot cross buns are essentially cinnamon-spiked dough dappled with currants or raisins and candied peel – although I usually skip the bits of peel and add grated orange zest instead. When I think about it, I have no idea why these are limited to once a year. It’s like raisin bread in soft bun form – if you have some aged cheddar or Gouda in the house, tuck some into a warm buttered bun to win friends and influence people.
The dough is easy to mix – if they’re for breakfast, you can shape the buns, cover and refrigerate them overnight to slow the rise.
A little beaten egg makes them glossy.
Some pipe icing crosses onto their baked, cooled buns, but there are two reasons I like to add a flour-water paste before they go into the oven: I like that they bake right on, and don’t get sticky or messy, and I like to eat these warm, which would mean the icing would melt and slide off unless I waited until they cooled. If you want to go the icing route, by all means skip the flour-water paste and pipe on whatever icing/drizzle you like.
The easiest way to pipe on the crosses is to scoop your icing or paste into a zip-lock bag, snip off a corner and squeeze. Easy. No clean-up.