I decided a few weeks ago that I wanted to make hot cross buns for this Easter. Sure, they’re traditionally a Good Friday food, but I was busy on Friday baking slow-rise bread and making homemade pasta with Evan (humble brag!!). Plus, it was on Saturday that we went out to visit Evan’s family for Easter brunch, and that seemed like the perfect time to bake and share hot cross buns.
Things didn’t go exactly to plan. (Classic, I know.) I decided to use a Martha Stewart recipe, and I read it carefully, and noted that it called for an hour of resting for the rolls to rise. So I thought we would be good to bake these rolls after work on Friday. Evan gets home a little after 11, I usually get home sometime between 11:30 and 12:00. Which is fine, I’ve baked batches of bread at this time of night plenty of times before, we’re usually up pretty late anyway. So we started getting everything ready to bake. Then at about 1:30, Evan realizes that I hadn’t read the recipe that closely at all, and there are in fact 2 hours of resting and rising time in the recipe. And if we kept on baking tonight, we would be taking out final products out of the oven at about 4:30. Not gonna happen. It would be best to wake up earlier the next morning and bake them before we left. Turns out, this also wasn’t going to happen.
Here’s what did happen.
We chose this recipe to follow, available here: Martha Stewart Hot Cross Buns.
- 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons whole milk
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 ounce (4 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
- 6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for bowl and baking sheet
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
- 4 ounces (3/4 cup) dried cherries, coarsely chopped
- 4 ounces (3/4 cup) golden raisins, coarsely chopped
- 1 large egg white
- 1 tablespoon water
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Heat 1 cup milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until it registers 110 degrees on a candy thermometer. Pour milk into a mixer bowl, and fit mixer with a dough hook. With mixer on low speed, add granulated sugar, yeast, butter, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, the nutmeg, cinnamon, and eggs. Add flour, 1 cup at a time, and knead until mixture comes together in a soft, sticky dough. Continue kneading, scraping down hook as needed, until dough is smooth, about 4 minutes.
- Add cherries and raisins, and knead to incorporate. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead to distribute dried fruit. Coat a large bowl with butter. Shape dough into a ball, and place in prepared bowl. Cover with a piece of plastic, and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Generously butter a rimmed baking sheet. Turn dough onto a surface, knead briefly, then divide into 3 pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time, divide each third into 10 pieces, and shape each into a tight ball. (Keep dough covered with plastic.) Place on prepared sheet, spacing 1/2 inch apart. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover with plastic, and let rise in a warm spot until buns have doubled in size and are touching, about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together egg white and water in a small bowl. Brush tops of buns with egg-white wash. Bake, rotating sheet halfway through, until golden brown, 20 to 22 minutes. Let cool on sheet on wire rack for 30 minutes.
- Whisk together remaining 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons milk, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Spoon icing into a pastry bag fitted with a plain 1/4-inch round tip, and pipe icing on buns in the shape of a cross. (Alternatively, spoon glaze on buns.) Serve immediately.
So we mixed up our dough, and it looked like this:
Then we kneaded it a bit more and let it rest, once it was a nice smooth batter:
After letting this rise for an hour, everything was coming along fine. Then I split up the dough into the 3 pieces like the recipe said, and it was at this point that I realized this recipe made 30 buns. 30! That’s a lot. Is that going to fit on my baking sheet? Not really.
Note: the recipe says to shape them into ‘tight balls’ which I don’t think I really did a great job doing. I was in a rush, because we had overslept, because we were up too late not actually baking these rolls. We hate running late, and we were already behind schedule, so the only solution was to take these rolls as they were, and let them rise on our trip. Here’s a bad picture I took with my iPhone of the tray of rolls on my lap in the car while Evan drove.
Every time we took a turn, all the rolls slid towards one side of the pan and they all squished together. They also rose pretty successfully, despite my doubts, which meant they were bigger and squished together, and I crammed all 30 of them onto one baking tray. So this is the result:
We felt pretty proud showing up to Evan’s mom’s house with this tray of squished and misshapen, unbaked rolls. Presentation isn’t our strong point. Luckily his mom was still really enthusiastic about it, which I appreciated. And, as is also classic with this blog, we didn’t let any of these roadblocks stop us, we just forged ahead and baked these suckers!
BOOM! We ate a few of these, and they were delicious. Then we went outside and Evan climbed a tree:
Then we came back inside, and mixed the frosting for the buns together. Then Evan’s sister Nora had fun Pinterest tip to help keep the frosting bag clean, so she helped Evan make that, and he frosted the rolls. And with the frosting on them, they looked perfect and they were so, so good. We ate almost all of them…and it was awesome.
Happy Easter, everyone!