Hot Cross Buns Recipe (makes 2 dozen)
Ingredients: 1 cup heated milk; 2 envelopes fresh dry yeast; ½ cup sugar; 2 teaspoons salt; 12 tablespoons oil or melted butter; ¾ teaspoons fresh cinnamon, ¾ teaspoons fresh nutmeg; 5½ cups unbleached flour; 4 eggs; 1 cup raisins or currants; 1 egg white; A pinch of salt; 1-2 tablespoons water; 1 cup confectioner's sugar; 2 tablespoons milk; and ½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice.
Directions: Heat milk in a saucepan on low until it is warm enough that you can still hold your finger in it without burning yourself. Take the pan off the heat and mix in the yeast, sugar and salt. Add oil or butter, cinnamon, nutmeg and one cup of flour. Stir in the eggs one at a time. Add the rest of the flour. Fold in the raisins or currants. Knead dough on a lightly floured flat surface for ten minutes. You may or may not need to add more flour. The dough will become smooth and soft, not sticky, and elastic when it has been kneaded enough. Let the dough rise in a warm place in a lightly oiled bowl with a clean kitchen towel covering it for an hour and a half. The top of the stove (if it isn't on) or the top of the refrigerator are both good spots for this. The dough will be double its original size after an hour and a half. Cut the dough into approximately twenty-four buns. Roll each into a ball between your palms and place onto a baking sheet. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave them to rise in a warm spot for one hour. Once they've risen, mix the egg white, water and pinch of salt together into an egg wash and lightly brush the whole top of each bun with it. Cut an X into the top of every bun with a pair of kitchen scissors. This is the "cross" part of the name of these buns and is based upon the Christian remembrance of Jesus and the cross. Bake the buns in a 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for twenty-five minutes or until they turn golden brown on top. In another bowl, combine the confectioner's sugar, milk and lemon juice to make a glaze. Drizzle this glaze over each bun after they have cooled. You may use the glaze to make a cross as well. Enjoy!
I'd never made hot cross buns before, but I like to bake and I recently came across this recipe in my recipe folder. So, despite the heat, I thought I'd try making them on the evening of July 30th. I halved the recipe, as I normally do when I first try out any new recipe. I do this as a precaution so that, if I mess up, I've only ruined half the ingredients. By halving this recipe, I ended up with twelve buns. I used raisins instead of currants since those were what I had on hand. I used brown sugar instead of white, canola oil rather than butter and added a half cup of whole wheat flour in with the all-purpose unbleached flour I normally use when I bake. I did this to give added nutrition to the basic recipe. I also used muffin tins rather than a baking sheet for baking since I was interested to see how this would affect final bun shape. Otherwise, I followed the recipe as it is and was pleased with the results. The buns were puffed and oval on top while narrow on the bottom. They were sweet, but mainly they tasted like soft and savory bread buns lightly perfumed with spice. The lemon-lickey glaze was the best part and next time I'll make more to act as a dipping sauce on the side. Feel free to let me know if you make them and your results.