Does everyone think of the song hot cross buns when they see the name? Maybe just Americans because of elementary school and learning to play that song on the recorder. I actually never learned because of moving schools often but that’s neither here nor there, I digress. You’d think they’d give you the actual baked good to try. Apparently, that’s not a thing.
I knew of what they were but honestly never tried hot cross buns until I was an adult. It’s not something that’s ever been readily available in grocery store bakeries near me. I honestly wasn’t quite sure what they were other than bread with a cross shape on them.
Hot cross buns are actually quite controversial. While it’s thought they originated in the 1300’s when a monk made buns with a cross on the top for religious reasons, Queen Elizabeth I actually banned the sale of them except for specific holidays so many people began to make them at home. They are traditionally associated with Easter, and the cross representing a holy cross. They are usually a lightly spiced bun with raisins or currants and often orange peel. However, there are many variations these days, with chocolate chips or fruits like apple or banana.
I chose to spice the buns a little more heavily as I love spiced bread, and use golden raisins (also know as sultanas). I then brushed them with a cinnamon honey butter glaze when they come out of the oven for a little shine and extra flavor. These buns have a lovely aroma when they come out of the oven and are so delicious.
Cinnamon is known to inhibit yeast development so while your dough will still rise perfectly fine, these buns are not going to be quite as fluffy and a little more dense. The texture is still lovely, and works well for having raisins within them.
Hot Cross Buns Key Ingredients
- Cinnamon – Cinnamon is the main spice in this recipe. The nutmeg and cloves add to the flavor though so it doesn’t taste quite like just cinnamon. You could experiment with other flavors. I tried one with allspice but did not like the flavor quite as much as these.
- Golden Raisins – You can definitely use regular raisins, however I preferred the color of the golden raisins and they also tend to be slightly more sweet.
- Honey – The honey glaze on top adds a little sweetness. There is sugar in the buns, and these technically are a sweet bread but the bread is not that sweet.
- 480 g Bread Flour 4 cups
- 2¼ tsp Instant yeast
- 1 tsp Sea salt
- 1½ tsp Cinnamon
- ½ tsp Nutmeg
- ¼ tsp Cloves
- 2 large Eggs room temperature
- ⅔ cup Whole or 2% milk warm
- 50 g Light brown sugar ¼ cup
- 3 tbsp Orange juice room temperature
- 4 tbsp Unsalted butter softened
- 120 g Golden raisins ¾ cup
- ¼ cup Orange juice
- 65 g Bread flour ½ cup
- ⅓ cup Water
- 1 tbsp Unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp Honey
- 1 tbsp Water
- ½ tsp Cinnamon
- ⅓ cup Powdered sugar
- In a small glass bowl or measuring cup, add your ¼ cup orange juice and heat in the microwave for 30-60 seconds until the orange juice is very hot. Add your raisins and allow the raisins to soak until room temperature.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer with dough hook attached, add flour, salt, yeast, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, eggs, milk, and orange juice. Mix on low until dough begins to come together.
- Once dough is in a rough stage, add butter one tbsp at a time, waiting to add the next until the previous is fully mixed into the dough.
- Once all butter has been mixed into the dough, mix dough for about 5 minutes.
- Remove dough from bowl and pat out into a more flat shape. Remove your raisins from the liquid, placing them on a paper or tea towel to remove excess moisture. Sprinkle the raisins over the dough and then shape back into a ball and put back in the mixer.
- Mix the dough for another 5-10 minutes until dough is smooth and not sticking to the sides of the bowl and raisins seem to be incorporated well.
- Remove dough from bowl and shape into a ball. Lightly grease bowl, put dough back in and cover. Leave to proof in a warm area for 60-90 minutes or until dough has doubled in size.
- Line a 9×13 metal baking dish with parchment.
- When dough is ready, punch down dough and use a bench scraper or knife to divide into 15 equally sized pieces.
- Shape each piece of dough into a ball. Place in the palm of your hand, taking the sides and folding them into the center and pinching together. Place the dough ball seam side down on your workspace. Lightly cupping your hand over the dough, make a circular motion creating tension in the dough. Place into your prepared pan. Repeat with remaining dough.
- Cover the pan with a tea towel or plastic wrap and allow to proof for about 45 minutes. Buns will have puffed up in size.
- About 30 minutes into proofing, preheat your oven to 375°F.
- When your buns have finished proofing, whisk together your flour and water for your crosses. Put the flour paste into a piping bag or sandwich bag and cut off a small section of the tip.
- Pipe crosses on the buns, going slowly across each row and column to get some of the sides.
- After crosses have been piped, place your pan on the center rack of your oven. Bake for about 25 minutes, buns will be ready when they are a golden brown.
- While buns are baking, make your glaze. In a small bowl, melt your butter then whisk in your honey and cinnamon. Add powdered sugar and whisk. Add water until preferred consistency.
- After buns have been out of the oven for about 5-10 minutes, use a pastry brush to brush the tops with the honey cinnamon butter glaze. Enjoy rolls while warm. Rolls can be stored in an airtight container for 2-3 days but are best enjoyed the same day.