Traditionally associated with Good Friday and Easter—and a great accompaniment for an Easter brunch—lightly sweet hot cross buns are also a delicious teatime treat any time of year. If you don’t own a pastry bag, you can put the icing in a small sealable plastic bag and snip off the corner.
Hot Cross Buns
1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) warm milk (110° to 115°F/43° to 46°C)
1 package (2 1/4 tsp.) active dry yeast
1/4 cup (2 oz./60 g) granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
2 eggs, lightly beaten, plus 1 egg white
2 3/4 cups (11 oz./345 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
12 Tbs. (1 1/2 sticks) (6 oz./180 g) unsalted butter, finely diced, plus more for greasing
1/2 cup (3 oz./90 g) raisins or dried currants
1 cup (4 oz./125 g) confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
Have all the ingredients except the milk at room temperature. Coat a large bowl and a 13-by-9-inch (33-by-23-cm) baking dish with butter. Set both aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the milk and yeast. Let stand until the yeast is slightly foam, about 5 minutes. Add the granulated sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and 1 tsp. salt. Mix on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the eggs and continue mixing 1 minute more. Add the flour in three additions, mixing until each addition is just incorporated before adding more and
scraping down the sides of bowl as needed. (The dough will be dry.) Increase the speed to medium-low and add the butter a few pieces at a time, kneading after each addition until all of the butter is incorporated. Continue kneading, scraping down the sides of bowl as necessary, until the dough is smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the raisins and knead until combined, about 30 seconds. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and finish kneading by hand for 1 minute.
Shape the dough into a ball and transfer to the prepared bowl, turning the dough to coat it with butter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Punch down the dough, turn it out onto a floured work surface and knead for 1 minute. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and shape each piece into a ball, stretching the sides of the dough down and under. Arrange the balls in the baking dish, spaced about 1/2 inch (12 mm) apart. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until the balls of dough are doubled in volume and touching one another, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Preheat an oven to 375°F (190°C).
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg white, 1 tsp. water and a pinch of salt. Using a pastry brush, brush the top of each bun with the egg wash. Using sharp scissors or a knife, cut a cross into the top of each bun. Transfer the baking dish to the oven and bake until the buns are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer the dish to a wire rack and let cool.
To make the icing, in a bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice. Transfer the icing to a pastry bag with a small plain tip and pipe an “X” on each cooled bun along the indentations where you scored the dough.
Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen