My wife is very fond of making different types of bread rolls. Although she has made a total of 4 different kinds of hot cross buns over the years, she made one more this year (a total of 5 different variations of hot cross buns). This one is quite different from the others. It uses much less liquid and much more butter. Initially we were skeptical, given the proportion of flour to butter, that this recipe would work but, in the end it did. The left is the newest version and on the right is one she made earlier this year.
The newest one has quite different texture and flavors.
1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) warm milk (110° to 115°F/43° to 46°C)
1 package (2 1/4 tsp.) active dry yeast
1/4 cup (2 oz./60 g) granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
2 eggs, lightly beaten, plus 1 egg white (my wife just added the additional egg yolk to the dough).
2 3/4 cups (11 oz./345 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
12 Tbs. (1 1/2 sticks) (6 oz./180 g) unsalted butter, finely diced, plus more for greasing
1/2 cup (3 oz./90 g) raisins or dried currants
For the Icing (which my wife did not use)
1 cup (4 oz./125 g) confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
Have all the ingredients except the milk at room temperature. Coat a large bowl and a 13-by-9-inch (33-by-23-cm) baking dish with butter. Set both aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook add the granulated sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and 1 tsp. salt.
Proof the yeast in 1/4 cup warm water with 1/2 spoon full of sugar. Combine the milk and yeast and add to the flour. Mix on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the eggs and continue mixing several minutes more. (The dough will be very very dry.)
Increase the speed to medium-low and add the butter a few pieces at a time, kneading after each addition until all of the butter is incorporated. Continue kneading, adding flour a little at a time scraping down the sides of bowl as necessary, until the dough is smooth.
Add the raisins and knead until combined. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and finish kneading by hand for 1 minute.
Shape the dough into a ball and transfer to the prepared bowl, turning the dough to coat it with butter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Punch down the dough, turn it out onto a floured work surface and knead for 1 minute. Cut the dough into pieces weighing about 2 1/2 oz.. Shape each piece into a ball, stretching the sides of the dough down and under. Arrange the balls in the baking dish, spaced about 1/2 inch (12 mm) apart. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until the balls of dough are doubled in volume and touching one another, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Preheat an oven to 375°F (190°C).
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg white, 1 tsp. water and a pinch of salt. Using a pastry brush, brush the top of each bun with the egg wash. Using sharp scissors or a knife, cut a cross into the top of each bun. (This step was somewhat less than successful; it just served to partially deflate the buns.) Transfer the baking dish to the oven and bake until the buns are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer the dish to a wire rack and let cool.
To make the icing, in a bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice. Transfer the icing to a pastry bag with a small plain tip and pipe an “X” on each cooled bun along the indentations where you scored the dough.
This is a bit unusual recipe. Initially, the dough looked really dry and did not look like it would come together. As the butter was added (#1) it started coming together as a dough (#2). It is almost like short bread dough. My wife, as usual, weighed the dough to make perfectly sized buns.
This is 2nd best hot cross bun in my wife’s repertoire but knowing the amount of butter that goes into them, the first hot cross buns my wife made this year may be better.