Saturday, 31 March 2012

Hot Cross Buns

we were on the topic of supernatural during our regular lunches when a friend of mine said he always felt that Good Fridays is the darkest day of the year. the ironic thing was he was a disbeliever of ghosts and spirits and other superstitions.anyhow, i like Good Fridays. you know it is coming when bakeries start to sell chocolate Easter bunnies, marzipan Easter eggs and - perhaps less popular here in SG - hot cross buns. i like the spices and candied fruity flavours of hot cross buns. i can barely taste the glaze used for "crossing" the buns but when i do, i really like how sweet it tastes. =)

though i came from a catholic school, i never quite heard of hot cross buns. as convent girls, we did alot of Easter eggs related art and crafts but not the buns. maybe also because i am neither a catholic nor a christian, i knew little about these festives.

my first encounter with hot cross buns took place three years ago when i had breakfast at Cedele Great World City. Intrigued by the cross on the bread rolls, i bought the bread to try. you might have guessed right. i loved it! and when i started to enjoy baking, i promised myself to bake it. last year passed like a flash and i wasn't in time to bake hot cross buns during Easter. i could not miss it again another year.

there are what i think beautiful superstitions about hot cross buns which i want to believe in and others which i am really skeptical about. the nice ones say that "sharing a hot cross bun with another can ensure friendship throughout the coming year, particularly if "Half for you and half for me, Between us two shall goodwill be" is said at the time. Because of the cross on the buns, some say they should be kissed before being eaten. If taken on a sea voyage, hot cross buns are said to protect against shipwreck. If hung in the kitchen, they are said to protect against fires and ensure that all breads turn out perfectly. " the one i am skeptical about says that "buns baked and served on Good Friday will not spoil or become mouldy during the subsequent year". we know that food spoils, don't we? having studied science and chemistry, it is hard to believe, but it wouldn't hurt to try. if anyone of you out there would bake during Good Friday itself, pls try and let me know. =P

Hot Cross Buns (adapted from


3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk, divided
1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (i used 1/2 tsp)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (i omitted)
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice (i omitted)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (i omitted)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
3 large eggs, divided
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup raisins
2 teaspoons vegetable oil, for greasing a large bowl
1/2 cup powdered sugar


1. Heat 3/4 cup milk until lukewarm.
2. Stir the yeast and the granulated sugar into the warm milk. Allow the mixture to stand 10 minutes until the yeast becomes foamy.
3. Combine the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon, cloves, and allspice, nutmeg, salt and orange zest in the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix on low to combine.
4. Pour the milk and yeast mixture into the flour mixture, and beat on low to combine. With the mixer running, add 2 eggs, 1 at a time, mixing just until the yolks disappear. Add the softened butter and raisins and mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 4 minutes.
5. Place the dough in a lightly greased large bowl, turning the dough once to coat it with the oil from the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm place to rise for 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size.
6. Position an oven rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 400 degrees F.
7. When the dough has risen, punch it down once and turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and form each piece into a round ball. Place each dough ball evenly spaced onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
8. Whisk together the remaining egg and 1 tablespoon milk in a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, paint the tops of each roll with the egg mixture, reserving the remaining egg wash.
9. Place a clean kitchen towel over the tops of the rolls and put in a warm place to rise, about 30 minutes.
10. Remove the kitchen towel and brush the tops of the rolls again with the reserved egg wash mixture. Bake until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.
11. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Allow rolls to cool completely.
12. Combine the powdered sugar and remaining tablespoon of milk. Place the sugar glaze in a pastry bag with a small tip.
13. When the rolls have cooled, pipe a cross over the tops of each roll using the sugar glaze.

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