In my mind, I cannot celebrate Easter without an Easter lily plant ( I get one every year) and Hot Cross Buns. One of my fondest memories from growing up in India, was to buy Hot Cross Buns with my mother, right before Easter and delivering them to my Grandma. While Hot Cross Buns are not that popular in the US and certainly not in my household, I still make them, afterall, it is tradition!! Last year during the COVID-19 lockdown, I tried a recipe without yeast (remember, everyone was making sourdough and there was no yeast in the stores!!), it served its purpose, but this year when I got my hands on yeast and high quality candied orange peels (please spend the extra money to get the good kind like the FRATELLI MOTTA brand), I had no excuse but to make the buns. In the past I used a recipe that made a huge batch and no one would eat them, so now, this recipe is going to be a go to since it yields approximately 9 buns. I hope, someone out there is a hot cross bun fan and will make these soon.
1/2 cup whole milk
2 1/4 tsp active dry or instant yeast
2 Tbsp warm water
2 Tbsp white sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
2 cups all-purpose flour, more as needed
1/2 tsp fine salt, use 1/4 tsp. if using salted butter
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp of ground cardamom
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
Raisins and chopped, candied orange peel (I never measure these)
1 egg yolk
1 tsp water
For the icing:
1 cup icing/confectioners sugar
2-3 Tbsp milk (add a little at a time )
Heat your milk in a small saucepan or in the microwave until steaming with small bubbles around the edges. Set aside to cool to lukewarm.
Add your yeast to 2 Tbsp. warm water (about 110° F.). Stir, then set aside to proof.
Once milk has cooled to lukewarm, add egg and stir until well combined. (*Be sure your milk has cooled sufficiently, otherwise the egg will cook in the hot milk). Add the yeast mixture. Set aside.
In a large bowl add the sugar flour, salt, spices, and butter to bowl. Using your hands or a pastry fork, work the butter in to the flour until it has broken down a bit.
Add flour mixture to the bowl of your stand mixer and attach the dough hook. Add milk/egg/yeast mixer to bowl. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic, adding a bit more flour if necessary.
Add raisins and orange peel and knead until incorporated.
Remove dough to a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise until doubled, about 2 hours.
Remove dough to a floured surface and divide in to 9 equal portions. Form each portion into a ball and place in a greased 9×9 square pan. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise until almost doubled and puffy – 60-75 minutes (note the rise in the picture on the right).
Preheat oven to 375° F.
When buns have risen, combine 1 egg yolk with 1 tsp. water in a small bowl. Brush tops and sides of buns well. Bake for 20 mins.
Allow the buns to cool completely before icing.
For the icing: Add icing sugar and milk. Add more icing sugar (or milk) as needed to make an icing of piping consistency. Pipe crosses on the bun and let the icing set.
Serve at room temperature or microwave for 30sec to achieve that “fresh-out-of-the-oven” feel.