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Easter Tradition: Hot Cross Buns

Growing up, the Easter season was marked by Lent — hello, no meat Fridays and deliberating over what I would be giving up that year — Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and of course, Easter. Coming from a Catholic household, Christmas and Easter are the two most important holidays. We’d go to church, then celebrate with all of our family, complete with an elaborate meal with all the fixings.

For Easter, I have a distinct memory of the delicious, cinnamon-y smell of hot cross buns as my mom took them out of the oven. I couldn’t wait for her to get the glazed cross on so I could dive into one! Now that we have kids, we’ve started to carry on those traditions from our childhoods that we want Logan and our daughter to know. One of them being: hot cross buns at Easter.

This recipe has the perfect blend of spices, and the orange zest gives it just that little bit of extra something. This year, Logan helped “oversee” the mixing/baking process, ha, but next year, I think he will be old enough to help roll the dough!

INGREDIENTS: (Makes about 14 buns)

4 eggs

3 cups flour

2 packs dry active yeast

1 1/2 cup raisins

3/4 cup warm milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)

1/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons butter, softened

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon all spice

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Zest from one large orange

Glaze:

1 cup confectioners sugar

2 tablespoons orange juice

1 teaspoon almond extract (can use vanilla)

(If glaze too thick, add a bit of milk. I usually use unsweetened vanilla almond milk.)

DIRECTIONS: 

1. Warm milk in microwave (make sure it’s warm not hot) and combine with tablespoon of sugar.

2. Pour milk into KitchenAid, sprinkle yeast on top, and allow to bubble. (Allow 7-10 minutes before moving to step 3.)

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3. Add butter, 1/4 cup sugar, 3 eggs + 1 egg white (save yolk from the fourth egg) whisked, and flour. Then mix (using KitchenAid bread hook) on medium speed for 3 minutes.

4. Scrape down sides, add in cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg, vanilla, salt, orange zest, and raisins. Mix another 2 minutes on low speed.

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5. Cover with towel and let sit for 1 hour.

6. Remove dough and place on floured, flat surface.

7. Lightly flour hands, break off slightly bigger than golf ball sized pieces of dough and roll into ball. (I had to keep re-flouring hands, as the dough is sticky.)

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8. Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and allow to sit for an hour. Be sure to cover with a towel.

9. Preheat oven to 375 F.

10. Mix 1 egg yolk and two tablespoons of water. Brush dough with mixture just before putting into oven.

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11. Bake at 375 F for 10 minutes. Then turn pans so that the side closest to the oven door is now on the inside and bake for another 5 to 7 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when bread is golden brown at the top and browned at the bottom.

12. Prep glaze. Mix confectioners sugar with milk, orange juice, and almond extract.

13. When first out of the oven, brush buns with a thin glaze. Allow to cool, then use glaze to create your cross. The first year I made these, I put in a Ziploc bag and used that to pipe my cross. This year, I found these great squeeze bottles on Amazon that I can also use for other baking/decorating. Enjoy!

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By Ravelle, March 24, 2016
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