Oddly enough, even though we spent nearly a week in Italy for spring break, I have had British things on my mind ever since.
On the plane ride there and back I watched a few British themed movies, and then when we had our 9 hour layover in London we took the bus to Windsor Castle. Sleep deprived and cranky, we forced ourselves to tour the entire castle as quick as possible and were so amazed at the history, grandeur of the rooms, and the armory. Side note: European history, and specifically the history of England, was a huge reason why I fell in love with history and majored in it at college. :)
Add in a few episodes of Great British Baking Show, and I had hot cross buns on the brain!
These hot cross buns are adapted from a Paul Hollywood recipe, and they took me a couple of tries to get right. The first time I definitely didn't wait long enough for my butter to soften and used milk that was too cold.
Also (if you happened to catch my stories), my mixer broke midway through trying to mix the dough. After that disaster, I think I overdid the kneading because they had a hard time rising after that and were not smooth enough.
The second time around worked like a charm. They are so fluffy and light, and the flavors work so well together. The orange flavor is not very strong but you can definitely taste it from the orange juice soaked cranberries.
These hot cross buns are a bit of a project, but so worth it! The process reminded me of cinnamon rolls, with the multiple rises at least. They are traditionally eaten around Easter and the cross on top represents Jesus dying for us on the cross and the spices inside represent the perfumes/oils used to bury him before he rose again. Pretty cool!
I went with orange and cranberry here, but you can definitely go with any sort of dried fruit filling, such as raisins or currants!
Orange Cranberry Hot Cross Buns
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1 1/4 cups milk, warmed slightly
- 2 large eggs
- 6 tbl butter, softened
- 2 tsp instant yeast
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 tsp spice mix (ground cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg)
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 1/2 cups flour
- Zest 1 orange
For the topping
- 2/3 cup flour
- 5 tbsp water
1/4 cup orange marmalade or apricot jam
Combine the orange juice and cranberries in a small bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds or until orange juice is warmed. Stir together and let soak until it comes to room temperature, about 15 minutes.
In a stand mixer fitted with dough attachment or in a large bowl with a wooden spoon, combine the milk, eggs, butter, yeast, sugar, spice mix, salt, flour and orange zest. Mix until combined and dough is smooth. It will be a very wet dough.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and fold the edges of the dough into the middle until the dough comes together. If it still too sticky, add a little more flour (1/4 cup at a time).
Working in batches, add the dried cranberries and any leftover orange juice into the middle of the dough. Fold into dough until cranberries are evenly distributed throughout. It seems like a lot of dried fruit but trust me, it’s so good that way!
Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 1 -2 hours, or until almost doubled in size.
Divide the dough into 15 equal portions and shape into smooth balls. The best way I was able to do this was weigh the entire dough on a scale and then divide by 15. I would then weigh each piece of dough to get them as even as possible.
Place the rolls into a lightly oiled 9x13 baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for 1 more hour or until puffy.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Whisk together flour and water to make a paste. Fill a piping bag fitted with a small tip (or use a plastic bag with end snipped off) and add the flour paste. Pipe rows across the top of the buns until a cross is formed atop each bun.
Bake in preheated oven for 15 min and remove from oven. Brush the jam on top of the buns and bake for an additional 5 - 10 minutes, or until tops are golden and buns are cooked through.