Hot Cross Buns (updated with photo)

 

Wildflower Bread hot cross bunsHot cross buns have been associated with the Easter season for centuries. The tradition started in Britain and spread with the empire. That helps explain why the tradition would not be recognized by a desert southwest coffeehouse keeper, as these buns were not part of the old Spanish  culture. As Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, wrote:

English folklore said that Hot Cross Buns baked on Good Friday would never spoil throughout the following year. Some bakers believed that holding on to one Hot Cross Bun and hanging it in the kitchen meant that all yeast products in the coming year would rise successfully. Some sailors took Hot Cross Buns on their voyages to ensure their ships wouldn’t sink. And friends who gift one another with Hot Cross Buns every year are said to remain friends for life.

I noted several years ago that Panera Bread stopped offering hot cross buns, while an Arizona chain, Wildflower Bread, continues to offer holiday orders of hot cross buns. This year, I thought I would try my hand at baking a batch.

The Pioneer Woman’s hot cross buns recipe is similar to others requiring yeast. I have not developed the patience for proofing bread, so I noted the spices suggested and continued my search for a quick bread version (updated). I found one and slightly modified it, as noted with italics below:

Quick Bread Hot Cross Buns

Makes 6, this is silly, so let’s double the recipe to make a dozen.

Ingredients

1 c. whole wheat flour (white flour can be used)
 2 tsp. baking powder
1  1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. shortening such as butter
2  1 tbsp. honey
1  1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1/2  1/4 c. raisins
2/3  1/3 c. milk
FROSTING:
1/2 c. confectioners’ sugar
2 tsp. milk
1/4 tsp. vanilla OMIT THE VANILLA. It colors the frosting an off white that will not stand out as much on top of the golden baked tops of the buns. I found that out with my first batch, which is quite edible:

Instructions

1. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl. Cut in the shortening with a fork until it looks like coarse crumbs. Add the honey, cinnamon and raisins and toss lightly. Make a well in the middle and pour in the milk all at once. Stir it around quickly with a fork and form a ball.
2. Divide the ball into 12 6 small ones. Grease a baking sheet and place the 12 6 balls on it, about 2 inches apart. With a knife cut a deep cross through the top of each ball. Bake them at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
3. When the rolls are slightly cool, dribble the frosting mixture of confectioners’ sugar, milk and vanilla over each. This forms the cross on each bun. Practice makes better. Use a teaspoon and drizzle a few lines on wax paper or such so you get the flow right. Then, start off of the buns and steadily pass over a line of buns. You will need to make three long passes (4 buns) and three short (3 buns).

In a hurry? Not inclined to make bread from scratch? No problem. Grab a tube of crescent rolls from the egg and dairy section of your grocery store. Pillsbury offers this recipe to doctor up their basic crescent rolls. I throw in a few spice suggestions in italics.

Crescent Roll Hot Cross Buns

Prep 15 MIN
Total 40 MIN
Ingredients 5
Servings 8

Ingredients
Buns
1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury™ refrigerated crescent rolls
1/3 cup raisins

1/2 tsp cinnamon 

1 Tbsp honey

1/4 teaspoon grated lemon peel, if desired
Icing
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons milk
Steps
1. Heat oven to 375°F. Unroll dough and separate into 8 triangles.
2. In small bowl, mix raisins and lemon peel; spoon about 1 teaspoon raisin mixture onto short side of each triangle. Sprinkle cinnamon over the triangles. Drizzle honey over the triangles. Gently wrap corners of dough over filling and roll to opposite point; pinch to seal. Place point side down on ungreased cookie sheet.
3. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from cookie sheet; place on wire rack. Cool 10 minutes.
4. In small bowl, mix powdered sugar and enough milk until smooth and drizzling consistency. With spoon, drizzle icing in cross shape on top of each bun.

If you prep in advance, the frosting will keep in the refrigerator. Just take it out far enough in advance to come up to room temperature, so it drizzles smoothly.

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  1. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    I remember growing up in Chicago that there were little bits of something green inside the buns. Maybe some type of green colored raisin, although square and only about half the size of a medium sized raisin? Had  a different taste than anything else I have ever eaten.

    Although I will try your recipe, Cliff, I was hoping it would solve the mystery of the green nubbin.

    • #1
  2. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill (View Comment):

    I remember growing up in Chicago that there were little bits of something green inside the buns. Maybe some type of green colored raisin, although square and only about half the size of a medium sized raisin? Had a different taste than anything else I have ever eaten.

    Although I will try your recipe, Cliff, I was hoping it would solve the mystery of the green nubbin.

    Sounds like a candied fruit. They are usually made with currants or raisins.

    • #2
  3. Gwen Brown Lincoln
    Gwen Brown
    @Gwen Brown

    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill (View Comment):

    I remember growing up in Chicago that there were little bits of something green inside the buns. Maybe some type of green colored raisin, although square and only about half the size of a medium sized raisin? Had a different taste than anything else I have ever eaten.

    Although I will try your recipe, Cliff, I was hoping it would solve the mystery of the green nubbin.

    I think it’s ‘called citron’. Some sort of candied fruit.

    • #3
  4. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill (View Comment):

    I remember growing up in Chicago that there were little bits of something green inside the buns. Maybe some type of green colored raisin, although square and only about half the size of a medium sized raisin? Had a different taste than anything else I have ever eaten.

    Although I will try your recipe, Cliff, I was hoping it would solve the mystery of the green nubbin.

    If it was actually green, unique in taste, and squarish, my money is on angelica.

    It used to be very common in European recipes using candied fruit, although I’ve never seen it in the States, and when I on the hunt for some I came across this blog entry which indicates it’s not all that common, at least in the UK, anymore either.

    The plant is angelica archangelica, also called “wild celery,” and last year I decided to grow my own and candy my own, because I really miss it as an ingredient in fruitcake and things like hot cross buns (because it tastes different from anything else).  All was well until a wandering-out-of-her-bailiwick sheep ate both of my plants down to the ground.  (It’s a large, rather spectacular, leafy plant with hollow stems.)  The stems are what you candy, and then cut into small squares for mixing into the batter/dough.

    Amazingly, one of the plants survived the awful winter, and if I can just get it through the next three days (25 at the moment; it was 80 three days ago), perhaps this year, I’ll actually manage it!  I really don’t like what they call “candied fruit” as you buy it at the grocery store, and I like to make my own.

    • #4
  5. DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) Coolidge
    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!)
    @DonG

    Gwen Brown (View Comment):

    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill (View Comment):

    I remember growing up in Chicago that there were little bits of something green inside the buns. Maybe some type of green colored raisin, although square and only about half the size of a medium sized raisin? Had a different taste than anything else I have ever eaten.

    Although I will try your recipe, Cliff, I was hoping it would solve the mystery of the green nubbin.

    I think it’s ‘called citron’. Some sort of candied fruit.

    Yes, “citron” is correct, but looking for “candied fruit” is easier.  I bought some off Amazon last week and it is labeled “holiday fruit”.  I’ll be using a bread machine to make a sweet dough.

     

    one a penny.  two a penny.  Hot cross buns!

    • #5
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Those are gorgeous! I can’t stop my mouth from watering! I’d love to try the Pillsbury recipe. Thanks!

    • #6
  7. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Clifford A. Brown: I noted several years ago that Panera Bread stopped offering hot cross buns

    I seem to remember reading years ago that England stopped the hot cross bun tradition because it offended Muslims.  Anyone have any info on this?

    • #7
  8. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill (View Comment):

    I remember growing up in Chicago that there were little bits of something green inside the buns. Maybe some type of green colored raisin, although square and only about half the size of a medium sized raisin? Had a different taste than anything else I have ever eaten.

    Although I will try your recipe, Cliff, I was hoping it would solve the mystery of the green nubbin.

    Sounds like a candied fruit. They are usually made with currants or raisins.

    Thanks Cliff. The first photo there on that page mentions bright red and green candied cherries – so maybe that is what they are. Definitely not raisin-tasting or currant-tasting.

    • #8
  9. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member
    9thDistrictNeighbor
    @9thDistrictNeighbor

    Here is the recipe I am using today.  If you have never made yeast bread before this is a great one to try.  It is very cool in my kitchen, so the dough has been rising all afternoon.

    The danger with Hot Cross Buns is that because of the sugar and the fruit (the recipe above doesn’t call for any candied citron, just raisins, dried currants, and freshly grated orange and lemon peel), the yeast has to work extra hard.  Over the years I have found work-arounds, but you do run the risk of making rather attractive rolls best used as a paperweight or a doorstop.

    • #9
  10. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    • #10
  11. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Stad (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown: I noted several years ago that Panera Bread stopped offering hot cross buns

    I seem to remember reading years ago that England stopped the hot cross bun tradition because it offended Muslims. Anyone have any info on this?

    Apparently fake news:

    Evening Standard: Best hot cross buns 2021: We tasted the top supermarket options

    Daily Mail: The great hot cross bun taste test: FEMAIL tries out 28 supermarket offerings in search of the best Easter treat (and a 25p ASDA offering comes out on top!)

     

    • #11
  12. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member
    9thDistrictNeighbor
    @9thDistrictNeighbor

    So far, so good.

    • #12
  13. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    9thDistrictNeighbor (View Comment):
    If you have never made yeast bread before this is a great one to try.  It is very cool in my kitchen, so the dough has been rising all afternoon.

    I have a recipe from King Arthur Flour for yogurt, rosemary, and raisin dinner rolls in which the recipe writers talk about that problem. They advise not adding the raisins until after the first rising. They suggest folding them into the dough at that point. 

    But from the looks of your photograph, I’d say your workarounds are working. :-) 

    • #13