Hot cross buns are spiced sweet buns with a long and rich history dating back to the 1500s and perhaps even farther back to ancient Grecian times. Traditionally, hot cross buns were served only on Good Friday so I thought I’d whip up a batch for the occasion.
Buns: 2 c. whole milk, 1/2 c. canola oil, 3/4 c. sugar, 1 package dry active yeast (2 1/4 tsp.), 4 1/2 c. flour, 1/2 tsp. (heaping) baking powder, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 2 tsp. salt, 2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. cardamon, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, 1/2 tsp. allspice, 1/2 c. raisins
Glaze: 1 egg white, splash of milk
Icing: powdered sugar, milk
Combine milk, canola oil and 1/2 c. sugar in a large saucepan. Stirring continuously, heat until very warm but not boiling. Turn off heat and allow to cool until the mixture is still warm but not hot, about 30 minutes.
**If you’re short on time, heat milk and oil in the microwave, set aside to cool until lukewarm and add to a bowl with the yeast and flour.**
Sprinkle the yeast over the mixture. Add 4 c. flour and combine; the mixture should be very sticky. Cover with a towel and set aside for 1 hour.
Add baking powder, baking soda, salt and 1/2 c. flour to the dough. Stir until combined.
In a small bowl mix 1/4 c. sugar with the cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamon, and allspice.
Lightly flour work surface and turn out the dough onto it. Press to slightly flatten the dough. Sprinkle a third of the sugar/cinnamon mixture over it. Sprinkle on about a third of the raisins. Then fold the dough over on itself and flatten again so the dough is “plain” again. Repeat the sugar/raisin process, then fold the dough again. Repeat a third time.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pinch off golf ball-size bunches of dough. With floured hands, quickly roll them into balls, then turn the edges under themselves slightly. Place on baking sheet. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for at least 30 minutes….an hour or more is better. **Turn on oven and bring it up to preheat, then turn off your oven and place towel-covered rolls inside to rise.**
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
For the glaze: Mix the egg white with a splash of milk. Brush onto the balls of dough.
Bake until the tops of the buns are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack.
For the icing: Mix powdered sugar and milk to create a thick icing.
When the buns are completely cool, add the icing to a small ziptop bag and snip the corner. Make icing crosses on each bun.