It's Easter and that means it's time for hot crossed buns. Now I didn't go up in the church or very religious at all so I never really had these sweet rolls growing up but as an adult in the pastry world I have come across them many times and from day 1 I was in love. They have a slight sweetness with a hint of cardamom and raisins, topped with a cross made from a glaze. Unlike many people I actually love raisins and when a baked good has them 9 times out of 10 I will like it. I also discovered hot crossed buns shortly after I discovered cardamom and realized the flavors I have miss through the years. The best part though (am I'm sure many will agree) is the glaze on top. Many baked goods are improved with a nice simple sweet glaze.
But the small cross to me isn't enough. It does have religious purposes. The pastry was created by a monk around the 12th century and they placed a cross on the buns to symbolize the christian cross and Good Friday. Over the years this has led the pastry to become a symbol of Easter weekend. At the end of the day though I'll take the extra glaze and put a good spoonful on each bun just to make them even better. And no one in my family has ever complained.
Along with the more traditional recipe I am going to include in the post I also want to include the sourdough substitute I did with my most recent batch. I'm trying to change a lot of my
recipes to use sourdough starter as well since it can be really good for you and it's free yeast that I have on my counter. Sourdough does take longer though so expect a lot more time to proof in bulk and once shaped. But the results are so worth it. Plus seeing the buns rise and bake in the oven makes me so happy to see how strong my starter is. So let's get into it.
Hot Crossed Buns
400g All Purpose Flour
50g Granulated Sugar
1 tsp Salt
1 ½ tsp Dry Active Yeast
½ tsp Cardamom, optional
75g Raisins, optional (but so worth it) (I love golden but any type will work!)
2 ea Egg
60g Unsalted Butter, soft
75g Powdered Sugar
2 tsp Milk, may need more
½ tsp Vanilla
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, place the flour, sugar, salt, yeast, and cardamom if using.
2. Whisk the egg into the milk then add to the flour mixture with the butter.
3. Mix on 1st speed for 3-4 minutes until dough has come together. It’s okay if not all butter in incorporated.
4. Increase speed to 2nd speed and continue mix for about 4-5 minutes.
5. Add raisins if using and mix on 1st speed for 1-2 minutes.
6. Place dough into a greased bowl and cover. Proof for 1 hour.
7. Remove dough and divide into 12 equal pieces.
8. Roll into balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet in a 3x4 grid just barely apart but close enough that they will touch while proofing.
9. Cover and proof for 30-45 minutes.
10. Brush with an egg wash then bake in a 350°F oven for 30 minutes until golden brown.
11. While baking, mix the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla into a smooth glaze.
12. Once the buns are baked and cooled, pipe a thin cross over the buns with the glaze.
Hot Crossed Bun Sourdough Sub
There are a few steps to do if you want to switch to a naturally leavened dough so adjust the recipe above with these steps
1. Remove the dry yeast and substitute for 50g of fresh sourdough starter. Best to have been fed 8-24 hours before use.
2. Once the dough has been mixed, place into a greased bowl and proof. This time fold the dough every 30 minutes over a 2 and a half hour period for a total of 4 folds then a 30 minutes rest before shaping.
3. Once shaped, the buns will take a lot longer for the second proof. Shape, cover, and proof for 2-3 hours on the counter at room temp.
Like I mentioned above, the sourdough version will be a longer process but there is something so magical about wild yeast and starters that make it so worth it. I also feel like it holds more true to this pastry since it was created originally in a time when wild yeast was all that's available. At the end of the day if you are looking for a quick pastry, use commercial yeast and these can be whipped up in as little as a few hours!