When I stumbled across this recipe for hot cross buns, there was something about it that reminded me of Easter, but I didn’t know why. Upon looking into the recipe, I discovered that hot cross buns were originally served in the UK, Australia, South Africa, and Canada the week leading up to easter. They eventually became popular world wide, and are now served year-round. No matter how they came to be, they taste amazing, and are a nice little treat to serve with Easter brunch.
1/2 c water
1/2 c whole milk
1/2 c sugar
2 – 1/4 ounce packages active dry yeast
1/3 c unsalted butter, melted (plus extra)
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 c all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp fine salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 c currants (I substituted with dried cranberries)
1 egg beaten, for brushing
2 c confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tbsp milk
1/4 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
Combine milk and water in saucepan over low heat until warm (about 100 degrees). Remove from heat and sprinkle yeast with pinch of sugar and and flour on top of liquid. Do not stir, let foam in pan (about 30 minutes).
Whisk butter, egg yolk, and vanilla into yeast mixture.
Whisk flour, sugar, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger together in a large bowl. Make a well in center of mixture and pour in yeast mixture. Mix together with spatula and stir in currants. Place tough on lightly floured surface and knead for about 8 minutes, until soft and elastic.
Brush large bowl with butter, place ball of dough inside, and cover with plastic. Let rise at room temperature for about a hour and a half.
Butter a 9 by 14-inch banking pan. Pat dough into rectangle in pan. Cut into 12 equal sections (4 columns, 3 rows). Tuck edges of dough under each square to form a roll. Place seam-side down in the pan, leaving space between each roll. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Remove plastic wrap, brush tops of buns with beaten egg, and cook for about 25 minutes (until tops are golden brown and puffy).