Hot Cross (Buns) will make you jump! jump!

Orange Spiced Hot Cross Buns

Orange Spiced Hot Cross Buns

I used to think hot cross buns were super gross. 

Maybe it was the raisins or that weird floury cross atop those strangely sweet burger-ish buns, or perhaps it can all be boiled down to the fact that my mom loves them and would force them upon me and my brother every Easter.  Whatever it was, I am happy to say that, with the help of these little babies, I am a true convert!

I've ditched classic raisins in favour of their golden cousins, funny little currants, chopped dried apricots, and slightly sour dried crans and scrapped the floury-paste cross altogether.

Yes, the ingredient list may look long but these little lovelies are a cinch to throw together!  If you're more of a traditionalist, feel free to scrap my melange of dried fruit in favour of classic raisins but definitely don't skimp on the spices and orange zest!  They take these sweet little guys to the next level!


Simple Classic Hot Cross Buns

Makes 16 buns

¼ cup apple juice
¼ cup finely diced dried apricots*
¼ cup chopped dried cranberries*
¼ cup dried currants*
¼ cup golden raisins*
1 ¼ cup whole milk, warmed
2 ½ teaspoons instant yeast
4–4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ cup brown sugar
1 ¾ teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground clove
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cold milk

For the icing
1 cup + 3 tablespoons icing sugar
1 ½ tablespoons milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a small microwave-safe bowl, stir together the apple juice and dried fruit.  Pop the bowl into the microwave and heat for about 30 seconds or until warm.  Set the fruit aside to cool to room temperature.

In a glass measuring cup, stir together the warmed milk and instant yeast and allow it to sit aside and get a little foamy.  Meanwhile, in a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, combine 4 cups of flour, baking powder, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg.  Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast mixture.  Add in the orange zest, eggs, egg yolk, melted butter, and vanilla and strain the cooled juice from the dried fruit on in as well.  Set the fruit aside to incorporate later.

If using a stand mixer, knead the mixture using the hook attachment until the dough is soft and elastic, about 5–7 minutes, adding the remaining ½ cup of flour if needed.  If using a bowl, stir until a shaggy dough forms then turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is soft and elastic, about 7–9 minutes, adding more flour as needed.

When the dough has reached a lovely consistency, knead in the fruit and form the dough into a ball.  Pop the dough into a bowl, cover with plastic and a clean kitchen towel, and allow it to rise for 1 hour in a warm place or until doubled in bulk.

Punch the dough down and divide it into 15 equal pieces.  Roll each piece into a tight-skinned ball and arrange them in three rows of five on your prepared baking sheet (note: the buns should be placed about 1-inch apart).  Lightly drape the buns with plastic and a kitchen towel again and allow them to rise for another hour or until they have puffed up and are just touching.  While the buns are rising, preheat your oven to 375F.

Uncover the buns and lightly brush each with cold milk.  This will help make your buns become a lovely golden brown.  Pop the buns in the oven for 18–22 minutes or until golden brown and lovely.  Remove them from the oven and transfer the buns to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, whip up the icing by mixing together the icing sugar, milk, and vanilla.  Transfer this into a piping bag fitted with a small round tip or a zip top bag with the corner cut out and pipe a cross on top of each cooled bun.

*Feel free to use whatever mixture of dried fruit you’d like!  Just make sure it adds up to 1 cup of fruit.

Cinnamon buns are always a good idea

Cinnamon spice buns with raspberry, orange, and walnuts

Cinnamon spice buns with raspberry, orange, and walnuts

Ah, cinnamon buns.  Is there anything better than waking up to a home bathed in that cinnamony warmth?  I mean, it's the weekend and while I am a bit of an early riser, the promise of an ooey gooey, freshly baked cinnamon bun is sure to get me out of bed with a smile on my face.

This base recipe is fantastic as is but also lends itself perfectly to the whims of the baker.  This weekend, I found myself with a surplus of raspberries and oranges so I snazzed up my traditional cinnamon buns with a bit of fresh raspberry jam, orange zest, nutmeg, ginger, and clove, and a handful or two of toasty walnuts.

If you're the earliest bird, feel free to make these from start to finish first thing in the morning but if you're less inclined towards a 5am alarm, I'd suggest taking a peek at my notes on an overnight rise.  This offers you all the glory and praise due after pulling freshly baked buns from the oven before noon but allows you a more human weekend wake-up time.


Cinnamon Buns or, you know, whatever type of breakfast bun your heart desires

Dough
¼ cup sugar
4 large egg yolks
1 whole large egg
¼ cup + 2 Tbsp melted unsalted butter
¾ cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 ¼ - 4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
2 ½ tsp dry rapid-rise yeast
1 ¼ tsp salt

Filling
1 cup brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
4 tsp cinnamon
5 tsp melted unsalted butter

*The filling is where you can get creative.  Feel free to change it up with nuts, dried fruit, a thin swipe of jam, spices, or citrus zest.  For the buns pictured above, I mixed the brown sugar and salt with 3 teaspoons of cinnamon and a quarter teaspoon each of ground ginger, ground cloves, and freshly grated nutmeg.  I then rolled out the dough, spread a thin layer of raspberry jam across the top, lightly brushed that with the melted butter, scattered the sugar mixture over top, and dotted the whole thing with fresh raspberries and walnuts.

Icing
¼ cup softened cream cheese
2 Tbsp room temperature unsalted butter
3 Tbsp milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 ¼ cup – 1 ½ cup powdered sugar
Pinch of salt

*As with the filling, feel free to jazz up the icing with different extracts or citrus zests. 

 

In a stand mixer, whisk the sugar, egg yolks, and whole egg together until light and fluffy.  While whisking, slowly pour in the melted butter followed by the buttermilk and vanilla.

Remove the whisk attachment from your mixer and add 2 cups of the flour and the instant yeast.  Holding the hook attachment in your hand, vigorously stir this mixture until it comes together.  Once mixed, attached the dough hook to the stand mixer and add 1 ¼ cup of the remaining flour as well as the salt and knead the dough on low/medium-low for 5 minutes.  At this point, the dough should be soft and moist but not sticky – if it is sticky, slowly add some more flour, ¼ cup at a time, until it no longer sticks to your hands.  Whether or not you add more flour, continue to knead the dough on low for an additional 5 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, knead a few times, and shape into a tight-skinned ball.  Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel, and allow the dough to rise in a warm place for about 2 – 2 ½ hours.

While the dough is rising, mix up the filling by combining the brown sugar, cinnamon or other spices, zest, if using, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

Prepare a 9x13” pan by generously greasing and lining with parchment paper.  I like to spritz a bit more cooking spray on the parchment paper just to make sure that all of my buns come out of the pan easily.

Once your dough has risen, melt the 5 teaspoons of butter for the filling and punch down the dough.

Form the dough into a 12x18” rectangle, brush with melted butter, and evenly sprinkle with the filling mixture.  If you want to add nuts or fruit to your buns, now’s the time.

With the long side of the dough towards you, tightly roll it into a snake, seal the seam by pinching the dough together, and cut into 12 even slices.  Arrange the buns about an inch or two apart in the prepared pan, cover with plastic wrap, and place the buns back in that warm spot for another 2 hours or so. 
*If you are preparing your buns the night before to bake fresh in the morning, see the note below for instructions.

When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350F and bake your buns for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and glorious.

As soon as the buns come out of the oven, carefully flip the pan over onto a baking sheet or cutting board and tap to release all of that ooey goodness.

While the buns cool slightly, whip up a batch of icing by combining all of the ingredients in a small bowl and whisking until smooth.

Serve warm smeared with a good dollop of icing and enjoy with a hot cup of coffee if you’re so inclined.

Notes on an overnight rise

Once you have arranged your buns in the prepared pan, cover with plastic, and refrigerate overnight or up to 14 hours.

When ready to bake, boil a kettle of water and place a second 9x13” pan on the bottom rack of your turned-off oven.  Remove your buns from the fridge and discard the plastic wrap.  When the water has boiled, pop the bun pan onto the middle rack of your oven and carefully fill the empty 9x13” pan about halfway with the boiling water.  Shut the oven door and allow the buns to proof (rise) for 30 minutes.
This creates an at-home proofing station and can be used for any doughs coming out of the fridge!

Once your buns have been proofed, remove both 9x13” pans from the oven and preheat it to 350F, baking the buns as above.