I am branching out today from Polish baked goods to an English baked good that I made for the first time while I lived in Poland. I’d sampled the store bought versions of this pastry, and I couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. It was the same experience I had with Paczki! Purchased = blah; homemade = YUM! Sitting around our little blue kitchen in Poznan, with no Hot Cross Buns to be found at Piotr i Pawel (our local supermarket), I thought I’d bake some. They were fantastic, a soft yeast bread with a bit of spice, dried fruit, and a cross glazed on top. Homemade is always better and fresher than store bought, and that’s why I want to share this Hot Cross Buns Recipe with you!
If you remember back to the days when you or your children were learning a musical instrument, I’ll bet that one of the first songs played was Hot Cross Buns. It’s an English nursery rhyme set to music, and it involves only three notes, so it’s perfect for beginners.
Hot cross buns, hot cross buns, one a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns
If you have no daughters, give them to your sons, one a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns
That crazy pricing strategy set aside, they’re a wonderful pastry that was traditionally eaten on Good Friday, and of course there are a lot of superstitions and guesses about the history of Hot Crossed Buns. A bun baked and served on Good Friday is rumored not to spoil all year and to have healing medicinal properties. A bun hung on the wall of a kitchen is supposed to protect from fires and ensure all breads turn our perfectly in the coming year.
During Elizabethan times, such spiced breads were only permitted to be sold for burials, on Good Friday, and at Christmas. Violators were forced to give all of their inventory of spiced bread to the poor, but official Hot Cross Buns didn’t appear until the 1700s in London. They can appear in your kitchen today!
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A soft spiced bread roll with dried fruit and a glazed cross on top for Good Friday
- 1/2 cup mixed candied peel
- 1/2 dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup rum, brandy, or apple juice
- 1 package dried yeast
- 1 cup warm milk, 110 degrees F
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon allspice
- dash nutmeg
- dash ginger
- 3 – 31/2 cup flour
- 1 egg yolk and 1 tablespoon oil for egg wash
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 2 – 3 tablespoons milk
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- Add candied peel, cranberries, and rum (or other liquid) to a covered bowl or small covered pan and heat until warm in microwave or on stove top, set aside to cool
- Dissolve yeast in warm milk for 3 – 5 min, mix in egg, butter, sugar, spices (feel free to make changes to the spices I’ve used according to your tastes, a scant teaspoon in total), 1 1/2 cups flour
- Add the peel/cranberries and any liquid that wasn’t absorbed, and enough of the remaining flour to have a sticky dough, knead, continuing to add flour as needed for about 5 minutes
- Place in a greased bowl, turning to grease the top of the dough, cover with a clean dish towel until doubled in size, about 90 minutes
- Punch down the dough, divide into 16 equal portions, roll the dough balls until smooth, place on a parchment lined baking sheet, 2 inches apart. Cover with dish towel and let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes, preheat oven to 375 F
- Using a sharp knife or razor blade, gently cut a cross into the top of the dough, brush with egg wash, bake about 45 minutes, cool
- Combine glaze ingredients using enough liquid to have a thick glaze that runs just a little, spoon glaze into the cross you cut on the top of the buns
Some recipes filled the cut cross with shortcrust pastry of a milk of flour and milk before baking, but you know the American palate, let’s go with something sweet, so I’ve used a glaze