Hot Cross Buns

These traditional Lenten pastries can still be enjoyed now, and they also lend themselves to post-Easter baking.



Photo by Laura Petrilla

There are only a few more weeks of Lent before all the delicious hot cross buns disappear from the bakeries around town.

They seem to be English in origin, and one story tells of a monk who made a huge batch of them to distribute to the poor families at the outskirts of town. Being a religious man, he marked the top of each with a cross.

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One of the young boys was too proud to accept the gift but said he would be willing to sell them. On Easter morning, he went from door to door in town with a freshly baked batch, singing the now famous song. He sold every one of them and put the proceeds into the poor box at church.

These cardamom-spiced treats shouldn’t be restricted to a particular season. Make a batch for yourself for practice. And then, the next time you’re asked to contribute to a bake sale, you’ll have the perfect recipe to follow—one with a history of successful fundraising.
 

Hot Cross Buns recipe

1 cup milk, scalded
1 stick butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 package dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup raisins or currents
1/2 cup candied orange peel
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup melted butter


Microwave the milk until it bubbles, then add the butter and sugar. Stir well and set aside to cool to room temperature. In a small bowl mix the yeast with one-quarter cup warm water (105 to 110 degrees) and the one-half teaspoon of sugar. Set aside to proof for five minutes.

In a large mixing bowl combine two cups of the flour with the raisins, candied orange peel, cardamom and salt. Slowly add the yeast, the milk mixture and the eggs, stirring to form a batter. Add the remaining flour one-quarter cup at a time until a dough forms.

Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead six to eight minutes until smooth and elastic. Add as little flour as possible. Put the dough into a greased bowl, cover and allow to rise until doubled in bulk.

Divide dough into 24 pieces and shape into round buns. Place onto greased jelly-roll pan about 1/2-inch apart. Brush tops and sides with melted butter. Cover and let double in size. The buns will be touching.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until dark brown. Remove from the oven and brush immediately with melted butter.

Make a simple frosting of milk and confectioner’s sugar, and then pipe the top of each bun with a cross.

Makes 32.

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