Today is Good Friday. On Good Friday you are supposed to eat hot cross buns. Hot cross buns are supposed to signify the crucifixion of Jesus. Apparently, they have been a hot topic throughout history. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, they tried to ban these buns because they were too closely related to Catholicism during the Reformation. They were wildly popular in England during this time, so Queen Elizabeth I allowed them only to be made at Easter and Christmas. She knew not to take away her people’s baked goods; that does not make for a happy kingdom. Regardless of the controversy that surrounds these little Easter treats, they are still delicious and something that will now become part of my Easter tradition. This was my first try at making these buns. They are soft and tender, and filled with dried apricots and raisins. Served warm with some unsalted butter and they are pretty much amazing.
This recipe is not difficult, but there are a few steps and it takes a long time to make. Rising time, not working time. But that it why we make these Easter treats once a year right?
This recipe comes from Better Homes and Gardens April 2011. I love this magazine, you should subscribe.
4 to 41/2 cups flour
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (100 degrees)
1/8 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup milk
1 stick butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sliced dried apricots
1/2 cup raisins
1 beaten egg whote
1 Tablespoon water
Dried apricots Sliced into thin strips for the tops of the buns
Set aside 2 cups of the flour and set aside. Combine the yeast, warm water, and 1/8 teaspoon of sugar. Mix together and set aside. In a small saucepan, heat the milk, butter, and 1/3 cup sugar, and salt until warm. In the bowl of a stand mixer (I am sure that you can do this by hand as well, but we all know that I am lazy) mix the remaining flour, the yeast mixture, the milk mixture, and the eggs. Use the paddle attachment not the bread hook like I did.
Mix on medium to low speed for 30 seconds, scraping the sides of the bowl constantly. Then beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Stir in the chopped apricots and raisins.
Add as much of the remaining flour as you can with a wooden spoon.
Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. It takes about 3 to 5 minutes.
Shape the dough into a ball and put in a bowl coated with cooking spray.
Let the dough rise and double in size. Mine took about 2 hours. When it is ready, punch it down and turn out onto a floured surface.
Cover with a towel and let sit for another 10 minutes.
Cut the dough into 20 portions. Roll them into balls. Place them on a parchment covered baking sheet. Cover and let rise again for another 45 to 60 minutes. Uncover, and make a crisscross on the top of each bun.
Whisk together the egg white and water. Brush on the top of each bun. Add the strips of apricot in a cross shape and press into the top.
Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve warm and with butter.
You can make these up to 3 days ahead of time stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator. Reheat as needed.