Hot Cross Buns - a lightly spiced Easter bread that's easy to make
|Hot cross buns: A soft-textured yeast dough made with eggs, this is special occasion bread and so simple to make.|
When I was little the excitement meter would rise about 10 notches the moment hot cross buns appeared on the kitchen counter. Mom saved them for the few days leading up to Easter so they really were part of the countdown.
As a child my favourite part of these special buns was the frosting, a simple “x” made with basic white icing. It made them seem a bit like a cupcake, only we got to eat them at breakfast. Mom would bake dozens and we’d graze on them all day long on Good Friday.
Good Friday was also a day for taking long drives. When we were growing up, if the church was too full by the time we arrived for 3:00 mass we’d just keep on driving. Dad would take us on a “Tour to nowhere,” as we called it, a drive around his old stomping ground in the North End of Saint John where he grew up.
We’d go along Douglas Avenue and he’d point out the house where he lived as a child, where he climbed out onto the roof, where he had his pony Barney. We’d go to the park behind Harbour View High, down to the river just beyond the Reversing Falls where there are tiny islands. That’s where my grandmother fell in as a child and had to be scoped up by the scruff of the neck before she got carried through the Falls. Sometimes we’d end up in old Indian Town, down by the power boat club.
We loved these glimpses into dad’s childhood and we were likely to only kids in our neighbourhood who knew our way around that end of town.
To this day I consider hot cross buns one of the great Easter treats. A soft-textured yeast dough made with eggs, this is special occasion bread and so simple to make.
Mom’s Hot Cross Buns
- 1 Tbsp. yeast
- 4 cups flour, divided
- 1/3 sugar
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¾ tsp. cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. nutmeg
- ½ tsp cloves
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup currants
- 1 egg, beaten (for brushing on top before they bake)
- In a large bowl combine 1 cup of the flour with the sugar, salt, and spices.
- In a small pot heat the milk until warm to the touch. Remove from heat, stir in a tsp. of sugar and sprinkle over the yeast. Let sit for 10 minutes until it starts to foam. Stir in butter then pour it over the flour and spice mixture.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time. Gradually add 2 1/2 more cups of the remaining flour. Mix in the currants then scrape dough onto a floured counter and knead in the final half cup of flour, until the dough is smooth.
- Place in a greased bowl, cover and place in a warm spot until almost double in size.
- Punch down and turn out onto a floured surface. Cut off pieces about the size of golf balls and form into balls by pulling the dough from the top and pinching it together at the bottom.
- Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, cover and let rise until almost double.
- Brush with beaten egg and bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
- When cool decorate with basic white frosting: 1 cup of icing sugar mixed with 1 ½ Tbsp. of milk.