Hot cross buns have been a staple of every Easter weekend since they were popularized in 16th century England. But in case you need another reason to bake a batch today, legend has it that any buns made on Good Friday won’t spoil for the rest of the year.
Folklore aside, the yeasty, sweet and spiced buns are perfect for honoring the traditions of the holiday — and for welcoming back the sugar you gave up during Lent.
Just remember to kiss them before you dive in.
1/2 cup warm milk
1 package active dry yeast
1/2 tsp. plus 1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups plus 3 Tbs. all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
5 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and softened
2 Tbs. golden raisins
2 Tbs. diced candied citron
2 Tbs. diced candied orange peel
4 Tbs. superfine sugar
3 Tbs. water
In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the milk, yeast and the 1/2 tsp. granulated sugar. Set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes.
In a medium bowl, mix together the 2 cups flour, the allspice, cinnamon, salt and the 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Add half of the flour mixture to the milk mixture. Using the flat beater, beat until combined. Add the butter and 1 egg and mix to combine. Add the remaining flour mixture and beat until a soft dough forms.
Fit the mixer with the dough hook and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If needed, add flour 1 Tbs. at a time (up to 1/4 cup) to keep the dough from being sticky. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled large bowl and turn to coat with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Punch down the dough and knead in the raisins, citron and orange peel. Shape the dough into a 12-inch log and cut into 12 equal pieces. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes. Shape each piece into a ball and place on the prepared baking sheet, spacing the buns 1 1/2 inches apart. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
Preheat an oven to 400°F.
In a bowl, mix together the remaining egg with 3 Tbs. of the superfine sugar to make a glaze. In another bowl, combine the remaining 3 Tbs. flour, 1 Tbs. superfine sugar and the water to make a paste for the crosses. Transfer the paste to a pastry bag fitted with a small tip. Brush the buns with the egg glaze and pipe a cross onto each. Bake until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Serve warm. Makes 12 buns.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma TASTE Magazine.