Full of vanilla soaked cranberries and raisins, these Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns are a perfect addition to any brunch table. Serve them warm for the most delicious flavor and texture.
What's in these Buns?
Hot Cross Buns are traditionally served around Good Friday and originated in England. They are full of spices and dried fruit, in this case raisins. According to this website, the hot cross bun goes back as far as the 12th century and cross symbolizes Jesus, and that is why they are traditionally served on Good Friday. Now, people eat them throughout the Lenten season and beyond.
Dried Fruit- For this recipe, we are using raisins and dried cranberries. You could use currants as well if that is what you prefer. It's important to just make sure you have some sort of dried fruit. To plump of these dried fruit, we are adding vanilla to them to add even more flavor.
Instant Yeast- To be honest, I tried making this with sourdough starter and it just did not work. Instant yeast is reliable and as long as the milk is not too hot when you are activating it, works perfectly. Another important tip, make sure that the yeast and the salt are not touching when you combine it together. If you put the salt directly on top of the yeast, the salt will kill it. So mix the yeast with the milk first, and then sprinkle the salt over the mixture.
Cinnamon- The spices are really what make these buns so special. Pumpkin pie spice works perfectly here because it already has lot of amazing spices in it, like cinnamon and nutmeg. To up the cinnamon flavor, I added even more cinnamon to the buns. In my opinion, you can't go wrong with cinnamon!
Apricot Jam- The apricot jams makes these fluffy buns have a sweet and delicious crust on top. Make sure to add the apricot jam glaze as soon as they come out of the oven so the jam melts nicely and gets in all the cracks and crevices.
How to make the Buns
First, we need to plump up the dried fruit. In a small bowl, add the raisins and dried cranberries and top with one tablespoon of vanilla. Add enough warm water to just cover the fruit. Let that sit for a few minutes while we make the rest of the dough.
You will need a stand mixer for this recipe. If you don't have one, you could do this by hand, but it will be quite a workout. The stand mixer does all the hard work for you.
Add the warmed milk (just warmed to room temperature), yeast, and one tablespoon of sugar to the bowl of the stand mixer. Let that sit for about five minutes until it gets frothy. The sugar is feeding the yeast and waking it up.
Once the yeast is frothy, add the rest of the sugar, eggs, and melted butter. Mix that to combine the ingredients. Add the flour, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon. Turn the mixer onto low and gently combine that.
Strain the raisins and dried cranberries and discard the liquid. Add them to the mixing bowl and knead the dough for five minutes. You'll want to do this by turning the mixer on medium. The dough will be sticky but it should come together as a large dough ball when it s done. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for 1.5-2 hours, until it has at least doubled in size.
Making the Paste for the Crosses
To make the paste for the crosses, combine one cup of all purpose flour with two tablespoons of sugar, four tablespoons of milk, and four tablespoons of water. Mix to combine and get as many lumps out as you can. Add the paste to a piping bag fitted with a medium tip. If you want to make these more fancy, you can add a ridged piping tip. If you don't have a piping bag, simply add the paste to a gallon Ziploc Bag. Cut off one corner of the bag and push the paste to that side so it will come out the side you have cut. Set the paste aside while we shape the buns.
Shaping the Buns
Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down so you deflate the dough a bit. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and press it so it becomes a rectangle on your counter. Cut the dough into twelve equal pieces. Shape dough into twelve dough balls and place them in a greased 9x13 inch pan. This is the one I have and I absolutely adore it. The dough balls should barely touch. Once all the balls are in the pan, cover it with plastic wrap again and let it sit at room temperature for one hour. At this point, once the dough has risen the balls will be touching and that is what you are looking for.
Baking the buns
Now that the buns have risen in the pan, it's time to pipe the crosses. With your piping bag or Ziploc bag, pipe one long row across the four buns. Do that for all three rows. Then pipe a shorter line across the three buns. Do that four times. You will now have the traditional cross for the top of the buns.
Crack one egg and discard the yolk. Add one tablespoon of water and mix that around. With a pastry brush, paint the egg white mixture over the buns, being careful not to disturb the crosses you just piped.
Place in a 375 degree preheated oven for 35-45 minutes. You will know the buns are done when they are golden brown or when the inside of them measures 185 degrees with in internal thermometer.
Glazing the Buns
Mix two tablespoons of apricot jam with two tablespoons of water. It should form a glaze that is easily brushed on the buns. As soon as the buns come out of the oven, brush the glaze over the buns. These buns are best served immediately and piping hot. Enjoy!
Questions about this Recipe
If you wanted to make these ahead of time, I would suggest making them as the recipe stated up until you pipe the crosses. Once you pipe the crosses, put them in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap. In the morning, bake them off and then glaze them. They really do not freeze well and they are best immediately out of the oven.
Sure! Currants are traditional, but you could used pieces of dried apricots or just raisins if you did not have any dried cranberries on hand.
Definitely! Like I mentioned above, you'll definitely get your workout in! You'll need to knead the dough for about 10 minutes to get the same kneading as the stand mixer. It's definitely possible, but the stand mixer just makes it much easier.
Other Recipes to Try
Did you give this recipe a try? I’d love to hear from you! Give me a shout on Instagram or Facebook and let me know (@Lynnswayoflife) !
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Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns
- Stand Mixer
- 1 Cup Whole Milk Warmed to room temperature
- 1 Tbsp Instant Yeast
- ½ Cup Sugar
- ½ Cup Raisins
- ½ Cup Dried Cranberries
- 1 Tbsp Vanilla
- 5 Tbsp Butter Melted
- 2 Large Eggs
- 4 ¼ Cups All Purpose Flour
- ½ tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- 1 Egg White For Brushing
To Make the Paste for the Crosses
- 1 cup All Purpose Flour
- 2 Tbsp Sugar
- 4 Tbsp Milk
- 4 Tbsp Water
To Make the Apricot Glaze
- 2 Tbsp Apricot Jam
- 2 Tbsp Warm Water
To Make the Buns
- In a small bowl, add the raisins and dried cranberries. Add 1 tablespoon of vanilla and cover the raisins and cranberries with warm water. Let that sit while you make the buns.
- Combine the milk, yeast, and 1 tablespoon of sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Let that sit for five minutes.
- After the five minutes is up, add the rest of the sugar, eggs, and melted butter to the stand mixer. Mix to combine.
- Add the flour, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon. Turn the mixer on low and slowly combine.
- Drain the raisins and cranberries with a strainer and discard the liquid. Add the now plumped cranberries and raisins to the dough.
- Turn the stand mixer on medium and knead the dough for five minutes.
- After the dough has been kneaded, cover with plastic wrap and let that rise at room temperature for 1.5-2 hours. The dough will be doubled in size when it is done.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down to let some air out and lightly flour your counter. Empty the dough onto the counter and spread it into a square. Cut the dough into 12 pieces.
- Grease a 9x13 inch pan with butter all over so the buns do not stick.
- Shape the 12 pieces of dough into 12 individual dough balls. You can do this by folding the balls over and into themselves. Place the dough balls in the 9x13 inch pan. They should barely be touching. Do not overcrowd them.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for another hour. The balls will rise and start touching each other and that is what you are looking for.
- In the meantime, preheat the oven to 375°.
To Make the Paste for the Crosses
- Combine the paste ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix until most of the lumps are gone. Add the paste to a piping bag fitted with the tip of your choice.
- After the hour is up and the dough balls have risen enough that they are touching, pipe crosses onto the top of them. You will want to do one long piping across the four buns, and then another shorter pipe across the three buns to make crosses on each.
- Mix an egg white with one tablespoon of warm water and brush the tops of the buns.
- Place the buns in the over for 35-45 minutes depending on your oven. The buns should be browned and the temperature of the inside of the buns should be 185° when they are done.
To Make the Glaze
- Combine the glaze ingredients in a small bowl. As soon as the buns come out of the oven, brush them with the apricot glaze all over.
- Serve the buns warm. Enjoy immediately!