A wealth of superstitions and legends surround the history of this sweet bread typically eaten around Easter and Christmas, but one thing is for sure – they are extremely tasty. I don’t care where they came from or how they will bring me goodwill in the coming year, I just care that I did not discover them until this year and how quickly I can get more of them into my belly.
A yeasty dough packed with spices and laden with zesty currants and orange, this is one tradition not to be missed.
I decided to try my hand at making a version that was slightly lower in fat than the traditional recipe since I am always looking for ways to cut down on the fat, but still enjoy a special treat like these. I had plenty of the cocoa butter left from the low-fat carrot cupcakes posted on Wednesday, so I subsituted that for regular butter and I used 1 whole egg instead of 2. Not a traditional ingredient, but I also added crystalized ginger to pack even more flavor punch.
Basically, they still turned out amazing and full of flavor.
These have only 4 grams of fat compared traditional recipes that could have up to 12 grams of fat. You could also try making them with 2 egg whites instead of using 1 whole egg and subsitute egg white for the egg wash to cut down the fat even further.
Here is my recipe for Hot Cross Buns adapted from simplyrecipes.com:
Cook time: 3 hours Yield: Makes 16 buns
- 1 1/4-ounce package active dry yeast (about 2 1/2 teaspoons)
- 3/4 cup warm skim milk
- 3 1/4 to 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated white sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground spices (I used 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground whole cardamom, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon allspice, 1/4 teaspoon cloves, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 Tbsp Cocoa Butter, melted
- 1 whole egg and 1 egg white, room temperature
- 3/4 cup currants
- 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
- 1 -2 Tbsp crystalized ginger, chopped
- 1 egg
- 1 Tbsp milk or water
- 1 teaspoon fresh orange juice
- 3 to 4 Tbsp powdered sugar
1 In a bowl, stir together 1/4 cup of the warmed milk and one teaspoon of sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over the milk and let sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy.
2 In a large bowl or the mixing bowl of an electric mixer, vigorously whisk together 3 cups of the flour (reserving additional flour for later step), the salt, spices, and 1/4 cup of sugar.
3 Create a well in the flour and add the foamy yeast, melted cocoa butter, egg and egg white, and the remaining milk. Using a wooden spoon or the paddle attachment of your mixer, mix the ingredients until well incorporated. The mixture should be shaggy and quite sticky. Add in the currants, orange zest and crystalized ginger (the amount of ginger depends on your taste – I like a lot of ginger, so I added about 2 full tablespoons).
4 If you are using a stand-up mixer, switch to the dough hook attachment and start to knead on low speed. (If not using a mixer, use your hands to knead.) Slowly sprinkle in additional flour, a tablespoon at a time, kneading to incorporate after each addition, until the flour is still slightly tacky, but is no longer completely sticking to your fingers when you work with it.
5 Form a ball of dough in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit, covered, at room temperature (or in a warm spot) for 2 hours, until the dough has doubled in size.
6 Press down on the dough to gently compress it. Roll the ball of dough into a log shape and cut it into two halves. Place one half back in the bowl while you work with the other half. Take the dough half you are working with and cut it into 8 equal pieces. The easiest way to do this is to roll it into a log, cut it in half, then roll those pieces into logs, cut them in half, and then do it again, roll those pieces into logs, and cut them in half. Take the individual pieces and form them into mounds, placing them 1 1/2 inches apart from each other on a baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and then work the remaining dough into 8 equal pieces and place them in mounds on a baking sheet, again cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough mounds sit at room temperature (or warm place) to rise again, until the mounds have doubled in volume, about 30-40 minutes.
7 Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare egg wash by whisking together one egg and a tablespoon of milk or water. If you want, you can score the top of the buns with a knife in a cross pattern – this will deflate the dough mounds a bit, but they will rise back up in the oven. You will want to make fairly deep cuts, for the pattern to be noticeable after they’re done. Using a pasty brush, brush on the egg wash over the dough mounds. The egg wash will give them a shiny appearance when cooked.
8 Place in the middle rack of the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes, until the buns are lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool on the pan for a few minutes, then transfer the buns to a wire rack to cool.
9 To paint a cross on the top of the buns – whisk together the orange juice and the powdered sugar. Keep adding powdered sugar until you get a consistency thick enough to drizzle on in the shape of a cross without being too runny. You can add more powdered sugar or juice until you get the consistency just right. Place in a plastic sandwich bag. Snip off a small piece from the corner of the bag and use the bag to pipe two lines of frosting across each bun to make a cross.
These are best served warm out of the oven!
Servings: 16 • Serving Size: 1 roll • Calories: 174 • Fat: 4 g • Protein: 5 g • Carb: 29 g • Fiber: 1 g