Friday is Good Friday, the day we remember Jesus Christ our Savior went to the cross to die for our sins and offer eternal life to those who believe in him and call him Lord. To honor Jesus’s sacrifice and the Easter celebration I have been baking hot cross buns. I had first been inspired to make hot cross buns when Food Network’s Pioneer Woman made them and shared the tradition that delivering hot cross buns to friends on Good Friday ensures lasting friendship. I googled several recipes, and, of course, I’ve developed my own variation. One special addition to my recipe is a combination of dried cranberries and golden raisins. To me, the red fruit symbolizes Jesus’s blood which he willingly shed for us and the golden fruit symbolizes his glory when he rose on the third day. This is my creation:
Hot Cross Buns
Set out 4 Tbs butter to soften.
Combine in small glass bowl: 1/2 cup dried cranberries + 1/2 cup golden raisins + fresh juice from 1 orange. If the dried fruit is not covered in juice, add hot water to cover fruit.
Let fruit soak and plump for about 10 minutes. Then strain juice from fruit.
Combine in another glass bowl: 1/4 cup very warm milk + 1/2 tsp sugar + 1 envelope (2+1/4 tsp) yeast.
Stir a bit. Let yeast activate for about 10 minutes.
Combine in large bowl of stand mixer: 1/2 cup very warm milk + 1/4 cup packed brown sugar + 4 Tbs softened butter. Start mixer.
Sift together: 1/2 tsp salt + 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon + 1/4 tsp ground allspice + 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg. Add spices to bowl; continue mixing.
Add: 2 beaten eggs + proofed yeast mixture. Continue mixing.
Change to dough hook attachment. Add 3+1/2 cups flour, 1 cup at a time and mixing between additions until soft dough forms. It’s sticky.
Working with floured hands, turn sticky dough out onto floured surface. Knead dough a few times and pat it flat; Sprinkle 1/3 of the drained fruit onto the dough; Knead dough to mix in the fruit; Pat it flat; Sprinkle another portion of the drained fruit onto the dough; Knead dough to mix in the fruit; Repeat with final portion of drained fruit. Transfer the dough to a large buttered bowl; Cover with a tea towel; Let rise until double in volume, about 1+1/2 hours.
Working with floured hands, turn dough out onto floured surface. Use a large sharp knife or dough cutter to cut ball of dough into 3 equal portions; Cut each third in half; Then half again so you end up with 12 bun-size pieces. Form each bun into a ball and place in buttered 9″x13″ baking dish. Cover buns with tea towel and let rise until puffed, about 30 minutes.
When buns are ready to bake, brush them generously with egg wash (beat 1 egg with a splash of water until frothy) to give a glossy glow.
Bake @375* until golden, approx. 15-18 minutes.
Cool tray of buns on wire rack. While buns cool set out cream cheese to soften. When completely cooled decorate with cream cheese icing.
Cream Cheese Icing
Mix together: 2 oz softened cream cheese + 1 cup powdered sugar + 1/2 tsp vanilla. Add a splash of reserved fruit juice or milk if needed to loosen frosting.
Spoon icing into a plastic baggie and cut a tip off corner to pipe the icing through. Decorate buns with nice thick crosses – because frosting is yummy and because my Savior gave himself on a solid cross, not some wimpy thin tree.
Remember to share with friends. Happy Easter! Christ Is Risen!