These have got to be the softest and fluffiest rolls I've made in a while.
These were made more out of an excuse to practice making bread rather than because Easter is so soon this year—March 27! Easter has never been a big holiday in my family but I've always loved the look of Hot Cross Buns.
There's only been one other time, I've attempted to make Hot Cross Buns. Like these English Muffins (still working on them, though), I first attempted to make Hot Cross Buns in my beginning days of making bread. They turned out dense and doughy because I had difficulties working with the dough. It was terribly sticky and my solution was to put in more flour which is of course why they turned out so dense.
This time, I thought I was going down the same path again, but they were a huge success. Best, straight out of the oven and piping hot.
I'm not the biggest fan of raisins or currants so I put dried cranberries in these buns instead. Soaking them in hot water makes them plump and juicy but you have to dry them thoroughly to ensure that the dough does not receive any more additional moisture than it needs.
For the crosses, I went plain and simple with a flour and water paste. There are other ways to make the crosses such as with lemon curd or frosting but I like how these sink into the dough. They don't add much taste wise but I like how the subtle division into four quadrants makes the overall look of the bun pop.
I'm making these again for Easter so I think I'll pizazz them up a bit with more cranberries and a sweeter cross. But, as is, they are still really, really delicious.
Eating warm buns with melted butter is a guilty pleasure. A double guilty pleasure if it's with cream cheese.
Cranberry Hot Cross Buns
Slightly Adapted from the Hot Cross Buns from Mary's Bread Basket and Soup Kettle
Yields: 16 buns
½ cup dried cranberries
1 cup boiling water
2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ cup warm water
1 cup warm milk
¼ cup butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
½ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup sugar
½ teaspoon nutmeg
Grated rind 1 lemon
5 cups flour, approximately
1 egg plus a sprinkling of water, beaten
¼ cup flour
6 teaspoons water
In a heat proof bowl, pour the boiling water over the dried cranberries. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set aside.
While the cranberries become plump, proof the yeast. See this post for more details.
In a mixing bowl, combine and blend well the milk, butter, eggs, salt, sugar, nutmeg and grated lemon rind. Once the yeast mixture has proofed, beat it in with the wet ingredients. Beat in 2 cups of flour with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add in the cranberries that have been thoroughly drained and patted dry. Gradually add more flour to achieve a soft, workable dough. Turn on a lightly floured surface and knead for 10-12 minutes until smooth and elastic.
Place in a greased bowl and cover to let rise for 1½ hours. Once risen, punch down the dough and knead lightly. Let rest for 10 minutes. Cut the rested dough into 16 pieces and roll each piece in a tight ball. Place on a baking sheet, ½ -inch apart. Continue with the rest of the dough.
Cover and let rise for 45 minutes - 1 hour or until doubled in size. Brush with egg wash when fully risen.
To make the cross, thoroughly mix together the flour and water. Place in a small Ziploc bag. Snip a small hole and pipe crosses across each roll. Bake in a preheated 375ºF degree oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown and puffy.
Remove rolls and set to cool on a rack.