I wrapped a hot cross bun and put it in my husband’s lunch box. We make them for Good Friday, and these spicy-sweet treats with cinnamon and nutmeg, studded with dried fruit, are topped with the white icing crosses.
Their history dates back to the Middle Ages, when a 12th-century monk baked the pastry in the days before Easter with a cross design that represented the crucifixion of Christ.
My recipe uses orange juice and makes 16 buns. Ingredients:
¾ cup warm (100° to 110°F) whole milk 4½ tsp. (2 packages) active dry yeast 1 large egg, plus 2 tbsp. beaten egg ¼ cup granulated sugar ¼ cup butter, melted and cooled ¾ tsp. salt ½ tsp. nutmeg, preferably freshly grated ½ tsp. cinnamon Finely shredded zest of 1 large orange About 3 cups flour ½ cup chopped candied orange peel ¼ cup dried currants 2 tsp. orange juice 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice 1 cup powdered sugar
- In a bowl of a stand mixer, combine milk and yeast; let stand until yeast softens, 5-10 minutes. Add whole egg, granulated sugar, butter, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and orange zest. Beat on medium speed with dough hook until blended.
- Blend in 2¾ cups flour. Beat on medium speed until dough is smooth and stretchy, 10-12 minutes. Add just enough flour (about ¼ cup) so dough is only slightly tacky. Add orange peel and currants, pick up dough and mix with your hands to distribute fruit. Return dough to bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1¼ hours.
- Punch down dough. With floured hands, shape into 16 smooth rounds. Evenly space rounds in 2 buttered 8- or 9-in. square pans.
- Cover loosely and let rise in a warm place until doubled and puffy, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Brush buns with beaten egg. Bake until deep golden, 13-15 minutes. Let cool in pans at least 30 minutes.
- In a small bowl, stir together juices and powdered sugar until smooth. Spoon into a small, heavy-gauge plastic bag, snip a hole in a corner and squeeze icing onto buns to form large Xs.