Hot cross buns
A version of the traditional hot cross bun tasty enough to eat without butter.
Each year when Easter rolls around, I am always searching and tweaking various hot cross buns recipes trying to come up with something that I like, something that suits my taste. There have been hits and misses. Some years I have been determined not to bother making cross buns. But when the time comes around, I can't seem to help myself, and so I give in.Skip to next paragraph
Tastes Like Home
Cynthia Nelson was born and raised in the only English-speaking country in South America – Guyana. She has been a media professional for over 18 years. Cynthia is based in Barbados and teaches Mass Communication. Her photography and musings on food and life appear regularly in publications in the Caribbean and North America. She is the author of the memoir-cookbook: Tastes Like Home: My Caribbean Cookbook and the award-winning blog, Tastes Like Home.
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For a cross bun to satisfy me, it has to be soft and tender and I want it just sweet enough that I don't need to slather it with butter or anything else. I want to be able to eat the bun as is with a cup of tea.
The origins of the cross buns are as varied as the ingredients they are made with. Christians around the world eat cross buns on Good Friday morning with the cross on the bun being symbolic. There are people who believe that the buns pre-date Christianity and that they were used in pagan rituals. There is another legend that the Church of England tried to ban the buns, however, because they were so popular, Queen Elizabeth I passed a law permitting them to be eaten but only on special occasions such as Easter and Christmas. The word “hot” in front of cross buns is said to describe how the buns were sold long ago and meant to be eaten – just out of the oven. In Guyana, cross buns are also one of those foods, like pancakes, that are exchanged and shared among friends and family.
So I set out to make a bun that is soft and fluffy like my butterflaps, sweet like an Amish White Bread and with the gloss and stickiness of a coconut turnover or a sticky bun (minus the nuts). I deliberately set out not to dress my buns with the traditional icing cross or the flour-paste cross. I have to tell you, I am one happy woman, the recipe I created produced a bun that totally suits my taste and my tasters. Soft. Sweet. Sticky.
Hot Cross Buns
1 tablespoon active dry yeast (or instant)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 cup warm whole milk (110 – 115 degrees F)
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (1/4 teaspoon table salt)
1/3 cup currants
For the glaze:
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup whole milk