Soft and fluffy, Hot Cross Buns have become “a must” during my Easter celebrations. Though you can bake them any time of the year, there’s something quite special about having them on Easter day. It is like having Christmas butter cookies on Christmas or turkey for Thanksgiving.
Although hot cross buns are not commonly eaten in Mauritius, be it during Easter or not, it is a tradition I have kept since living in Melbourne. I still recall buying them at the local bakery opposite my work place. Actually, I would smell the sweet essence of the spices right from across the streets! And who can resist that! It is so perfect with a cup of tea.
Like any other yeasted recipes, hot cross buns are not difficult to make, but requires a lot of patience. But you’ll see, the wait is totally worth it!
How to get the fluffiest and softest buns?
Scald your milk!! This is a mandatory step! Why? Scalded milk helps make cakes, breads and buns light and fluffy because this process kills the protein in the milk which then allows the gluten to form.
~ How to scald milk?
- In a pot, bring your milk to temperature over medium heat.
- Once you see bubbles forming on the sides and a skin forming on top of the milk, you know it is ready.
- Turn the heat off, transfer it to a bowl and let the milk cool down.
Jazz it up your way!
I like my hot cross buns the traditional way but with a twist. Lot of spices (I usually use a mix of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice) and raisins and as it not Easter without chocolates, I like to throw in some choc chips. So my go to is half raisin, half choc-chip. Nonetheless, feel free to add in any flavoring or dried fruits of your liking. Orange zest, ground ginger, mixed spice or allspice, candied mix peel..etc
Hot cross buns mark the end of Lent and the cross represents the crucifixion of Jesus. It is conventional for Christians to have the cross which can either be piped with frosting (cream cheese or royal icing) or etched into the bun using the traditional flour-water paste. Here again, it is up to you to decide how you want your cross.
Hot Cross BunsCourse: Something Sweet, Dessert, Tea Time, BreakfastDifficulty: Medium
- For the Buns
355ml (1½ cups) whole milk
2 large eggs (+ 1 for egg wash)
56g (4 tbsp) softened unsalted butter
355ml (1½ cups) water
100g (½ cup) castor sugar
1 tbsp instant yeast
480g (4 cups) all purpose flour (+ 30g (¼ cup) if needed)
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp allspice
158g (1 cup) raisin (or ½ raisin + ½ choc-chip)
½ tbsp milk for egg wash
- For the Sugar Syrup
60ml (¼ cup) raisin infused water
25g (2 tbsp) castor sugar
- For the Cross
Cream cheese: 60g (¼ cup) cream cheese; 60g (½ stick) softened butter; 80g (⅔ cup) icing sugar; 1 tsp vanilla essence
Flour-water paste: 60g (½ cup) flour; 60ml (4 tbsp) water
- For the Buns
- In a small sauce pan over medium heat, pour in the milk to scald it. You know the milk is ready when it bubbles on the side and a thin layer is formed on the top of the milk. Remove from the heat, transfer to a glass bowl and let it cool.
- Once the milk has cooled down to the touch (you want the milk to be lukewarm), stir in the sugar and yeast. Let the mixture sit for about 5-10mins or until the yeast has activated and is foamy.
- Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the water and raisin to a boil. Let the raisin boil for about 2mins or until plump. Strain the raisins and set them aside. Do not throw away the boiled water as we will use it for our sugar syrup.
- Once your yeast has been activated, add the butter to the yeast mixture. Mix until butter is fully melted
- Then whisk in the 2 eggs into the yeast mixture
- In a large mixing bowl (or stand mixer bowl), combine 480g of flour, salt and spices (nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice)
- Make a well in the middle of the flour and add in the yeast mixture. If using a stand mixer, attach the dough hook and mix the flour and yeast for about 5mins on medium speed. If doing by hand, gently knead the flour into the yeast mixture until a dough starts to form. Add up to 30g more flour if the dough is too sticky. However, note that this dough is on the stickier side.
- Finally, mix in your raisins. If using choc-chips, do NOT add them now.
- Transfer the dough to an oiled/floured bowl, cover it with a damp kitchen towel and allow it to rise for about 2 hours or until double in size
- Once the dough has risen, punch it down and give it a quick knead. If using choc-chips, add them in at this point.
- Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and shape each piece into a ball.
- Place the balls (seam side down) onto a greased and lined baking tray, cover them with a damp kitchen towel and allow them to rise for another 30mins (or until double in size)
- Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 180C/375F and prepare your egg wash by combining 1 egg and ½ tbsp milk in a small bowl
- Generously egg wash your buns once they have risen
- If making the traditional flour cross: Combine the flour and water in a bowl to make a flour paste. Transfer mixture to a piping bag and pipe crosses on the buns
- Bake the buns for 20-25mins or until golden brown
- For the Sugar Syrup
- While the buns are baking, prepare your sugar syrup. In a small sauce pan, combine the raisin water from earlier and the sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil or until the sugar is fully dissolved, stirring occasionally until the mixture thickens a little. Transfer to a bowl and allow syrup to cool.
- Once baked, remove your buns from the oven and allow them to cool for 5mins before brushing them with the syrup.
- For the Cream Cheese
- If making crosses with cream cheese: In a mixing bowl, whisk together the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy
- Whisk in the vanilla essence
- Then gradually add in the sifted icing sugar
- Transfer frosting into a piping bag.
- Pipe crosses once the buns have cooled down completely
Recipe adapted from Oh Sweet Basil