Food & Wine’s Paige McCurdy-Flynn makes these soft, pillowy hot cross buns with a twist: She rolls the dough with brandy-soaked cherries for an extra kick.
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1 cup dried cherries
1 cup kirsh
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup warm milk (110°)
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 package)
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 8 tablespoons and softened
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
How to Make It
In a small bowl, soak the cherries with the brandy and vanilla for 1 1/2 hours.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour and 1/4 cup of the sugar with the salt, cinnamon and cardamom.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk, combine the warm milk with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar and the yeast and whisk to combine. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add 2 of the eggs and the orange zest and beat until combined. Fit the paddle in the mixer. At a low speed, beat in the dry ingredients until just combined. Beat in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, allowing each addition to absorb before adding the next. Switch to the dough hook and knead on medium speed until the dough is smooth, about 5 minutes.
Brush a large bowl with some of the melted butter. Add the dough and brush the top with more butter. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
Drain the cherries; reserve the soaking liquid to make the frosting. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and pat into a 12-by-6-inch rectangle. Spread 1/4 cup of the cherries over the top of the dough. Fold the dough in half over the cherries and spread another 1/4 cup of cherries on top. Fold again; repeat the spreading and folding two more times with the remaining cherries. Carefully gather the dough to form a smooth ball, tucking in any cherries that fall out. Add the dough back to the buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and roll into a 12-inch-long log. Cut the log into 8 even pieces, then roll each piece into a ball and transfer to the baking dish. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
In a small bowl, lightly beat the remaining egg. Brush the tops of the buns with the egg wash. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden. Let the buns cool slightly.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the confectioners’ sugar with 2 tablespoons of the reserved cherry liquid and the orange juice until smooth. Scrape the frosting into a resealable plastic bag. Using scissors, cut a small hole at a corner end of the bag. Pipe the frosting in a crisscross pattern over the tops of the rolls. Serve warm.
The buns can be covered and kept at room temperature overnight.
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