Hot Cross Buns - Everyday Baking Blog at - 85066

Everyday Baking

Hot Cross Buns 
Mar. 26, 2009 1:21 pm 
Updated: Mar. 27, 2009 9:18 pm
I've been thinking about Easter lately. Even though I want to keep Easter dinner simple—ham, maybe scalloped potatoes, asparagus, and salad—I'm trying to figure out what I can do ahead of time. Dinner rolls! But wait—how about hot cross buns for Easter morning?

You can use just about any bread recipe you like to make rolls. I was rummaging through my fridge and saw the egg yolks that I wanted to use up. I had butter. I also wanted a recipe with raisins, because I like them. I did an ingredient search to find a bread recipe that fit my craving: a rich, sweet egg bread without extra spices—something that would stand up to an orange-flavored icing. I settled on Hunza Bread II. (For more about my mixing method, see my recipe review.)

Yeasted doughs keep well in the freezer if you treat them right.
  • First of all, the dough should have its first rise at room temperature, as usual.
  • Punch the dough down, shape it into a manageable ball, and divide it into dinner rolls. Use a knife for this, or a dough divider—bread dough doesn't like to get ripped apart. Aim for plum-sized pieces of dough (between 2 and 2.5 ounces per roll).
  • Shape the pieces into nice rounds and put them on a baking sheet. You don't have to worry about spacing them out; you just don't want them to touch each other. Put the baking sheet in the freezer and chill until firm, about an hour.
  • Transfer the rolls to a Ziploc freezer bag and tuck them away until the you need them. (You should use them up within a month or two, since the yeast will start to degrade and the rolls won't turn out as well if you wait too long.)
To bake frozen rolls:

If you have room in your refrigerator, you can set the rolls out on a baking sheet (for individual rolls) or in a greased 9 x 13" pan (for pull-aparts). Each pan should hold a dozen rolls. Let the rolls thaw overnight in the fridge.

If you don't have room in the fridge—and who does, with the fixins for a holiday meal in there?—don't worry: you'll just have to let the rolls sit out on the counter a little longer. The dough needs to thaw and then warm up enough for the yeast to get active again.
  • Proof the rolls until they're noticeably larger in size, and puffy to the touch: when you poke your finger in the side of a roll, the indentation should stay where you put it. If it springs back, it needs a little more time to rise. (It's easier to do this if you wet or grease your finger before poking sticky dough.) Cool, refrigerator-temp dough will probably take about an hour and a half to proof in a warm kitchen.
  • Brush the rolls with egg wash (an egg beaten with a tablespoon of water or milk). Bake them according to the recipe instructions (generally at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes) until they're golden brown.
When the rolls have cooled slightly, frost them with crosses. If they're too hot, the icing will just slide right off. I made a simple icing of powdered sugar, milk, and orange zest—kind of like the one in this recipe. Now, if only I can get that "one-a-penny, two-a-penny" nursery rhyme out of my head….
Hot Cross Buns
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Mixing dough: everything but the butter and raisins.
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Beautiful stretchy dough. The pic's blurry, but it's a supple dough with long gluten strands.
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Dividing dough into rolls. Each piece is about the size of a plum - 2 to 2.5 oz each.
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Frozen rolls, packed up for storage until Easter.
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Shaped rolls, before proofing - bake 12 per pan.
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Ready to bake: When you poke the dough with your finger and the indentation stays, it's ready to go.
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Hunza Bread II - The recipe made 32 individual rolls.
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Mar. 26, 2009 1:36 pm
I was just thinking about making hot cross buns - thanks for the great how-to!
Mar. 27, 2009 5:14 am
I LOVE your blog!! Keep it up. I'm gonna go back thru and see if I missed some good ones.
Mar. 27, 2009 1:58 pm
Aww, now I'm blushing. Thanks so much for your kind words, Tracee! I'm glad you’re finding these posts helpful. It has been fun for me to think through my processes as I bake stuff, and to remember that the techniques that I use automatically now aren't necessarily common knowledge.
Mar. 27, 2009 9:18 pm
I just saved this post to my recipe box. I definitely want to try these! Thanks for the info - I really enjoy your blog!
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About Me
I am thrilled to be able to combine my love of the written word with my passion for food in my job at I have a background in publishing and in the food service industry, both "front of the house" and back. I graduated from the Culinary Institute of America's Baking & Pastry program and have worked as a baker and pastry cook in Wisconsin, for a season at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, and at bakeries in Seattle.
My favorite things to cook
My baking career really began when I was in first grade and my family was living in Germany. Every morning my father and I would walk to the local bakery for bread and an afternoon treat, like Apfelkuchen. I love dark sour breads, baking anything with yeast in it, and anything that requires hours of patient work, like croissant and Danish doughs.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Food we ate while camping. Animal pancakes. My mom's meatloaf. My grandfather's breakfasts.
My cooking triumphs
I think a baker's real triumph is getting to work at 4 am, day in and day out, so that there are beautiful pastries and loaves of bread on display when the bakery opens three hours later. A personal triumph was making my own wedding cake.
My cooking tragedies
Heavens! Too shameful to list: all that wasted dough, those burnt nuts, spilled milk to cry over....
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