Hot cross buns are an Easter favorite, beloved and fun to make. Bakers turn them out by the hundreds this time of year! Here’s a riff on the classic in loaf form, which is delicious sliced, toasted and topped with a little butter.
Hot Cross Bun Loaf
For classic hot cross buns, after the dough has risen the first time, divide it into 12 to 16 equal pieces (depending on how big you want the buns to be) and roll each into a ball. Space the rolls out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and let rise until doubled. Bake until golden brown, about 18 minutes.
4 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 cup whole milk
1⁄4 cup granulated sugar
1 package active dry yeast
4 cups all-purpose flour
3⁄4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1⁄8 tsp. ground allspice
1⁄8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup dried currants
1 Tbs. finely grated orange zest
For the filling:
4 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened
2⁄3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 Tbs. ground cinnamon
1 egg white, beaten with a little warm water
For the glaze (optional):
1⁄2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. whole milk
In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Stir in the milk and granulated sugar, and warm to 110°F. Pour into the bowl of a stand mixer and add the yeast. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
In another bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and salt. Add to the yeast mixture along with the eggs, currants, and orange zest. Attach the dough hook and knead the dough on medium-low speed for about 10 minutes. Scrape the dough into a ball, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled, about 1 1⁄2 hours.
Meanwhile, make the filling: In a bowl, stir together the softened butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon.
Butter two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans. Dump the dough onto a floured work surface. Divide the dough in half. Roll each half into an 8 1⁄2-inch square. Smear each square with half of the filling. Roll up the dough, pinch the seam to seal, and place seam side down in a prepared pan. Let rise until puffy and the dough rises above the pan sides, 1 to 1 1⁄2 hours.
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Brush the loaves with the egg wash. Bake until the loaves are golden brown and pull away from the pan sides, about 35 minutes. Turn out onto racks and let cool completely.
To make the glaze, if you like, in a small bowl, stir together the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and milk. Drizzle the glaze over the tops of the cooled loaves before cutting into thick, yummy slices. Makes 2 loaves.
For more great cookies and other baking recipes be sure to check out our latest book, Williams-Sonoma Home Baked Comfort.