You need to make these right away.
Hot Cross Buns. They are as much of an Easter tradition as the Easter bunny and painted eggs. Although I didn’t try them until well into adulthood, Emma was born a fan of hot cross buns. I had intentions of making them for years but my aversion to working with yeast (I’ve gotten past that now – see here, here and here) and the raisins (she loves them, I don’t) has always resulted instead with us picking up a few from a local bakery at Easter time. That is no longer the case.
These two versions remove the raisins from the hot cross bun equation and instead bring together other delectable combinations: white chocolate with dates and dark chocolate with citrus. Every Easter, my parents purchased an ornate white chocolate cross. I remember admiring it displayed on the dining room table, eagerly anticipating the moment we would be allowed to break into it and enjoy the sweet confection. Although white chocolate is no longer as appealing to me as it once was, it seemed like the right choice for the girls (who adore them!). The dark chocolate and citrus flavours combined with the cinnamon-spice – it’s like eating a cinnamon bun with Terry’s chocolate orange in it!
Not having enjoyed them much before, I wasn’t quite ready for how good they would be. These hot cross buns are wickedly good. Wickedly good in that they will keep calling you back to the kitchen for a little taste. Wickedly good in that you’ll be enjoying one more after the kids are off to bed. Wickedly good in that you’ll have to have another one toasted for breakfast.
But be sure to save one or two. By making (and sharing) them, you’ll be doing your part in building enduring friendships. As the old nursery rhyme says: “Half for you and half for me; Between us two shall goodwill be.”
So here’s me, sharing some Hot Cross Buns with you. Now run, go make some too!
Hot Cross Buns, 2 ways - Vegan and Traditional
- 3 1/3 cups (454g) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons quick rise yeast
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon all-spice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coarse salt
- 1 cup skim milk, room temperature [rice milk]
- 4 tablespoons salted butter, melted [olive oil]
- 1 large egg, beaten [flax egg = 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed + 3 tablespoons water]
- 6-8 medjool dates, pitted and chopped [or mixed diced citrus peel]
- 50g white chocolate, chopped [mini dark chocolate chips]
- 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons skim milk [rice milk]
- 2 tablespoons water
- 25g white chocolate, chopped [5 tablespoons icing sugar + 2 teaspoons rice milk]
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl if making the recipe by hand), thoroughly whisk together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, all-spice, yeast and salt. Set aside.
In a small bowl, beat the milk, butter and egg [or rice milk, olive oil and flax egg]. Pour the milky mixture into the flour mixture and mix together until a soft dough starts to form.
Transfer the bowl to the stand mixer and on low speed, using the dough hook, knead for 5-7 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. [If doing this by hand, transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.] Gently knead in the chocolate and fruit combination and place the dough into a large bowl. Cover and let it rest in a warm, draft-free spot for 30 minutes to an hour.
Line a 9″ x 13″ x 2″ rectangular baking pan with parchment paper.
Once the dough has nearly doubled in size, turn it out on to a lightly floured surface. Punch it down and cut it into 12 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a bun. Place them all into the prepared baking pan in a single layer leaving space between each bun. Cover again and let rest for 15-20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400F. Mix the sugar, milk and water together to make the glaze while the oven preheats and set aside.
Bake the buns for 15 minutes and remove them from the oven. Gently brush the glaze over top each bun and return the baking pan back to the oven for another 5-10 minutes until they are golden.
Remove the buns from the oven and brush the remaining glaze over top. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan and remove the buns to cool on a rack.
When the buns are cool, place the white chocolate in a microwaveable bowl. Heat it at 50% power for 30 seconds and stir. Continue to heat at 50% power for 15 second increments until it is smooth. For the vegan version, mix together the icing sugar and rice milk until smooth. Pour the chocolate [or sugar mixture] into a piping bag or small sandwich bag. Snip the tip off of the sandwich bag and pipe a cross over the top of each bun. Let set and serve.
These are best eaten the day they are baked but are still wonderful toasted or warmed up. Be sure to store leftover buns in an airtight container.