Just wanted to mention that I made a really nice recipe of Hot Cross Buns this weekend, and wanted to share. They were a gift for my Mom, who at 92, really does have everything. I am hoping she is having a Hot Cross Bun party with her ladyfriends.
Hot Cross Buns were traditionally made during Lent, and some bakers would make them especially for Good Friday. There are many versions of these buns, but this recipe is nicely spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg; is quick to make, with brief rising times, and calls for using chopped dates, instead of the usual “mixed peels,” which are often of questionable quality. Also, no one will report you to the Baking Police if you substitute chocolate chips for the dates–I’ve heard that chocolate Hot Cross Buns have become a favorite in Australia and New Zealand, so chocolate works well in Hot Cross Buns. One more thing–even if you are a new baker, this recipe is pretty straightforward to make. It does call for 4-3/4 to 5-1/2 cups of flour, and that variability could seem scary, but if you add the flour until the dough is workable, and not wet and sticky, you’ll be fine.
Hot Cross Buns (makes 1-1/2 dozen buns)
4-3/4 to 5-1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 package dry yeast (can use quick rising)
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup butter
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 8-ounce package of chopped dates
1 egg white, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water
In a large bowl, combine 1-1/2 cups flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and undissolved yeast.
Heat milk, water and butter until very warm to touch. Gradually add to dry ingredients; beat 2 minutes with electric mixer. (I beat it well with a large spoon for two or three minutes, and it was fine). Add eggs and 1/2 cup flour; beat 2 minutes. With spoon stir in enough additional flour to make a soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes. (I kneaded it right in my large, stainless steel bowl, to save on cleanup.) Cover, let rest for 20 minutes.
Punch dough down, turn out onto lightly floured surface. Knead in chopped dates. Divide dough into 18 equal pieces; form into smooth balls. Place balls on greased baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
Brush with egg white mixture. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until brown. Remove from pans and cool on wire racks. Drizzle icing on rolls to make a cross.
Frosting: Stir together 1-1/2 cups sifted confectioners sugar, 1 to 2 tablespoons milk, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.