At the end of every summer, just before the start of the new school year, my mother would produce, as if by maternal magic, a school suppy list for each of my brothers and me. I loved school and read my list eagerly, thrilled for the glimpse into what a new year would hold.
The year I entered fourth grade, that list held the promise of music. A recorder! How my heart leapt at the thought of making music on my very own instrument! We had a small upright piano in the dining room, but I could only play a few songs on it, so my talented older brother usually held court on its flip-top bench.
The recorder was to be mine, all mine, and I just knew it would reveal in me a great musician aching to get out.
In hindsight, my expectations may have been set too high.
I wish I could remember my music teacher's name: that poor, sainted soul. What kindness, patience and deafness he must have possesed to show up every week and guide a class of fourth graders in a squeaky, slow rendition of Hot Cross Buns.
I promise you, making Hot Cross Buns in your kitchen is easier than playing Hot Cross Buns on the recorder, and the results are infinitely more enjoyable.
Hot Cross Buns
- 1 c. warm milk
- 1/2 c. + 1 t. granulated sugar
- 1 pkg. instant dry yeast
- 4 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 t. kosher salt
- 1 t. baking powder
- 1 t. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 t. allspice
- 1/4 t. nutmeg
- 1/4 t. cloves
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 t. pure vanilla extract
- 2/3 c. raisins
- 1/3 c. dried cranberries
- zest of one lemon
- 1 egg white
- 1 T. milk
- 1 c. powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 T. lemon juice
- 1 T. milk
In a small bowl, combine warm milk and 1 teaspoon sugar. Add yeast and mix until dissolved. Set aside until mixture is slightly frothy, about five minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, salt, baking powder and spices.
Make a well in the center of dry ingredients. Pour yeast mixture, eggs, melted butter and vanilla into well. Mix until thoroughly combined.
Add raisins, dried cranberries and lemon zest to dough. Mix in. Dough will be sticky.
Turn dough onto a well-floured board and knead, incorporating up to a 1/2 cup more flour into dough, until it is smooth and elastic. This should take no more than five minutes.
Shape dough into a smooth ball and place in a buttered bowl, turning once to butter on all sides. Cover with a lightweight towel and set in a warm spot for about two hours, or until doubled in size.
After dough has risen, gently press it down and shape it into balls about an inch and a half in diameter. Place buns 1/2" apart on buttered sheet pans. Again, cover with a lightweight towel and allow to rise for about an hour, or until buns are just touching.
(At this point, you may cut a cross into each bun by snipping the top with a pair of kitchen shears first in one direction, then the other. This step is optional.)
Just before baking, brush buns with a glaze of one beaten egg white and a tablespoon of milk. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.
Remove from heat and let cool completely.
When buns are cool, make frosting by combining one cup of sifted powdered sugar, 1 T. lemon juice, and enough milk to make a thick but pourable glaze. Brush or pipe frosting on buns in a cross pattern.
Makes 24 buns.