Hot Cross Buns

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These cozy yeast-raised buns are a classic for Easter—rich with spices and orange zest and studded with dried fruit, they make an unforgettable addition to a holiday brunch. They’re equally good for breakfast any day, alongside a cup of coffee or tea.

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Photo: Jen Causey
Active Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 40 mins
Yield:
12

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest, plus 3/4 cup fresh juice (from about 3 oranges), divided

  • 1/2 cup golden raisins

  • 1/2 cup dried currants (or dark raisins)

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 (1/4 ounce) envelope instant yeast

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

  • 4 1/2 cups (about 1 pound, 3 1/8 ounces) all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for work surface

  • 3/4 cup whole milk, warmed (about 110°F)

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

  • 2 large eggs, beaten

  • Cooking spray

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 1 tablespoon apricot jam

Directions

  1. Stir together orange juice, raisins, and currants in a small microwavable bowl. Cover with plastic wrap; microwave on HIGH until just warm, about 1 minute. Remove and discard plastic wrap. Let mixture cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes. Drain well, reserving 1 tablespoon orange juice for glaze. Set plumped raisins and currants aside.

  2. Place sugar, yeast, salt, orange zest, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and 4 1/4 cups of the flour in bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment; beat on medium speed until just combined, about 15 seconds. Add warm milk, softened butter, and eggs; beat until a shaggy dough forms, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove paddle attachment from mixer; connect dough attachment. Beat on medium speed until dough is smooth and elastic, about 7 minutes (dough will stick to bottom of bowl but not the sides). Add drained raisins and currants; beat until evenly incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes.

  3. Transfer dough to a large bowl coated with cooking spray; cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

  4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; divide evenly into 12 (about 3 1/2-ounce) pieces; shape into balls. Line a 13- x 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper; coat with cooking spray. Arrange dough balls in prepared pan; cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

  5. Preheat oven to 375°F. Whisk together water and remaining 1/4 cup flour in a small bowl until a paste forms. Spoon into a resealable plastic bag; snip a 1/4-inch-wide corner off bag. Pipe a cross on top of each dough ball in pan.

  6. Bake until buns are golden brown, 20 to 24 minutes. Remove from oven. Whisk together jam and reserved orange juice in a small bowl until combined. Brush evenly over warm buns. Using a spatula, remove buns from pan, and transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm, or let cool completely, about 1 hour.

Notes

To mix by hand:

Proceed with Step 1 as directed. In Step 2, stir together sugar, yeast, salt, zest, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and 4 1/4 cups of the flour in a large bowl using a wooden spoon. Add milk, butter, and eggs; stir until a shaggy dough forms. Turn out onto a clean work surface, and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. Dough will be very sticky and will smear across work surface for first few minutes until gluten is developed (use a bench scraper to bring dough back into a ball after smearing). Spread dough into a 9-inch circle; pile raisins and currants on top. Fold dough in half to sandwich add-ins; knead until evenly incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Continue with Steps 3 through 6 as directed.

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