There are certain foods associated with holidays and the seasons of the year that we really enjoy, and one in particular is Hot Cross Buns. When we lived in Bangor, two local businesses that I frequented, Frank’s Bakeshop and The Friar’s Bakeshop, baked these delectable spiced rolls topped with gooey white icing and sold them during the Easter season.
The practice of eating special small cakes at the time of the spring festival dates back to the ancient Greeks. Food historians have traced the pastry known as Hot Cross Buns to the late 17th century, when eating of spiced buns was allowed only on Good Friday, Christmas, and burials.
The original cross on these delicate yeast rolls was not frosting, but a slash in the dough. They were sold as street food, often hot, thus the name became Hot Cross Buns. This popular English Easter bread migrated to the new world, and ironically, is often only available now during the Easter season.
Intrigued by this spot of history, and wanting to enjoy these treats all year round, I did some recipe research and testing. This recipe for Hot Cross Buns was adapted from King Arthur Flour. I replaced with sugar with maple syrup, and add whole-wheat flour to increase the nutritional benefits. At less than 175 calories per bun, I can enjoy more than one. Plus, they freeze easily and defrost quickly for a nutritious and delicious snack
Hot Cross Buns Recipe
- 1 cup dried fruit (currants, raisins, cranberries, orange peel)
- 1/4 cup apple juice
- 1 cup milk
- 6 tablespoons butter at room temperature
- 3 eggs 1 separated; save 1 white for glaze
- 2 teaspoons yeast
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup citrus zest
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 3 /12 cup all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
- reserved egg white
- 1 tablespoon milk
- ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
- ¼ teaspoon lemon or orange extract or may also use vanilla
- Splash of milk (enough to make a thick pipeable icing)
- In a small saucepan, gently heat the apple juice and stir in the dried fruit. Let soak to absorb the juice.
- In the bowl of your electric mixer, add the dough ingredients, and then the fruit mixture. Knead until it is soft and elastic. Cover and let rise for about 1 hour. It will become puffy, but will not double in bulk.
- Grease a 9” X 13” pan. Punch down the dough and divide into golf ball-sized pieces, 24 in all. Use your greased hands to shape into rounds, and arrange in the pan. Cover the pan and let rise, about 1 hour, until they are puffed and touching each other. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Whisk together the reserved egg white and 1 tablespoon milk. Brush over the buns. Bake for about 25 - 30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove to a rack to cool.
- Mix together the icing ingredients, and when the buns are completely cool, spoon or pipe (using a pastry bag) a cross shape atop each bun.