Spring is official! In less than two days it will be Good Friday, when hot cross buns are traditionally served. Though Easter is not a tradition in our house, I remember there were always chocolates around this time in spring. For me, it was about the food, the ham and all, however hot cross buns weren’t my childhood favourite. Growing up as a Chinese, I didn’t like the flavours of hot cross buns, especially the candied peels. It didn’t help that the only non-Chinese baked goods in the house were purchased from the nearby supermarkets (my mother is not a baker at all).
UPDATE March 25, 2016: This recipe is a finalist on Food52’s “Your Best Recipe withe Dried Fruit” contest, check it out on this link!
I eventually reconnected with these little buns while I started to work at a bakery. Brioche would be the inevitable choice to turn into hot cross buns at a French style bakery of course. Inspired by the version at the bakery, I decided to make one to call my own. The tenderness and richness of brioche, my favourite dried fruits, and a honey glaze to keep the buns moist, I think I will be making these year after year.
- 50 g / 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 50 g / 1/3 cup raisins
- 50 g / 1/4 cup dried apricots
- 30 g / 1/4 cup candied orange peel, good quality or homemade
- 2 tbsp hot water
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 330 g / 2-2/3 cup all purpose flour
- 6 g / 2 tsp instant yeast
- 8 g / 1-1/4 tsp salt
- 40 g / 3 tbsp + 2 tsp sugar
- 200 g eggs (about 4 large), cold taken out of the fridge
- 18 g / 1 tbsp milk
- 200 g / 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp butter, at room temperature
- egg wash
- 25g / 2 tbsp clear liquid honey
- 1 tsp vanilla extract - optional
- 15 g / 1 tbsp hot water
- 130 g / 1 cup + 1 tbsp icing sugar
- 2 tsp orange zest
- 15-20 g / about 1 tbsp water
- Roughly chop all the dried fruits, place them in a small bowl, add the hot water and vanilla extract, set aside while you prepare the dough.
- Combine all dry ingredients in a mixer bowl.
- Whisk together eggs and milk in a small bowl, and add to the dry ingredients.
- Start the mixer on low speed with a dough hook to mix the dough until it comes away from the side of the bowl, about 2 - 3 minutes.
- Add in butter by the tablespoon, mixing a little after each addition until all the butter has been incorporated. Finally add the dried fruits mix and mix thoroughly until the fruits have been distributed evenly.
- Cover the mixing bowl and let the dough rise until it doubles in size, punch down and place it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight. *It is important to work with the dough while it is cold otherwise it will be too soft and difficult to shape.
- Prepare a 9" X 13" pan, brush the bottom and sides heavily with butter - it makes a nice browning and prevents the buns from sticking.
- Turn dough onto to lightly floured working surface. Portion it into 80 - 82 g portions, it should give you 12.
- Flour the dough lightly to prevent sticking. Form the portions into balls by cupping your hand gently onto the dough and moving the dough in a circular motion.
- Arrange the dough into 3 rows of 4 balls in the prepared pan.
- Cover light with plastic and let it rise in a warm place for about 2 - 2.5 hours, until it doubles in volume, with the sides of the buns slightly sticking to each other. When almost ready to bake, preheat oven to 425F.
- Lightly brush the tops of the buns with egg wash. Bake for about 10 minutes, lower heat to 375F for about another 10 - 15 minutes until the tops become a rich golden colour.
- Mix the honey and hot water in a small bowl.
- While the buns are still hot out of the oven, brush the tops generously with the honey glaze, until all the glaze has been used up.
- Mix icing sugar, water and orange zest, adjust the consistency if necessary. If too runny, add a little icing sugar, if too tight, add a little more water to make it a piping consistency. Place icing into a small piping bag until ready to use.
- Cool buns completely before finishing. Snip the tip of the piping bag to the thickness you like, pipe a line across the middle each row and column of the buns to create the signature hot cross buns pattern. Serve!
- The buns are great fresh and will keep up to 2 days in an air tight container. You can also refresh them in a 300F oven if you'd like them warm. Enjoy!
Soft, rich, tender, buttery, with the lovely flavours of the dried fruits and honey, having just one doesn’t do them justice. Feel free to play around with different kinds of dried fruits, currants and dried sour cherries also work well. I hope you will be enjoying your Easter holiday as much as I do, whether you celebrate it or not, it is a great excuse to gather with your loved ones and share a great meal…and maybe some hot cross buns!