Easter Series: Hot Cross Buns

“One a penny, two a penny, Hot Cross buns!” is the rhyme that was sung on Good Friday in England where these buns were sold, which are thought to date back to the 12th century. I remember singing this nursery rhyme as a child and having no idea what the rhyme was talking about. Now that I’ve made and enjoyed some delicious buns, I’ve enjoyed sharing them with family and friends. I love the symbolism behind these Easter buns and the flavor. 

For those unfamiliar with this delicious Easter bun, it is a yeasted sweet bun studded with currants and iced with a cross that is piped across the top. When I first made Hot Cross buns, I was hesitant about using currants in the recipe. I’m not a huge fan of raisins in baked goods and I was afraid it would “ruin” the bun. But I decided to stay true to the recipe and used currants which are much smaller than a raisin. They were absolutely delicious. If you are able to buy currants, definitely include them in this recipe. It has become my new go-to dried fruit to put in baked goods because of the smaller size and flavor. If you have never tried them before, pick up some currants from your local grocery store and give them a try. 

These buns make a wonderful Easter gift or are perfect to eat on Easter morning or anytime on Easter weekend. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. “Get them while they’re hot. Eat them by the ton. One a penny, two a penny, Hot Cross buns!”

Yield: 12 buns

Time: 15 minute mix, 2 hours rise, 15 minute bake

Ingredients:

Dough

  • 1 cup warm whole milk
  • 1 Tablespoon instant yeast
  • ¼ cup melted butter, cooled
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3- 3 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ cup currants (or raisins)
  • 1 egg for egg wash (optional)

Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons cream or milk (more or less for consistency)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

  1. Warm the milk in the microwave. Stir the milk so the heat disperses. The milk should be warm to the touch (like baby’s bathwater). Add the milk to a stand mixer and add the yeast, cooled melted butter, egg, sugar, salt and cinnamon.
  2. Begin adding flour a cup at a time until a dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides. Continue adding flour little by little until the dough is just a tiny bit sticky. Add the currants and continue kneading (for a total of about 5 minutes).
  3. Oil a bowl and put the dough mixture into the oiled bowl. Cover and let rise for an hour in a warm place.
  4. Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Once the dough has risen, turn out on your counter and cut into 12 equal pieces. Roll each ball of dough into a bun shape and place on the baking sheet, four rows of three.
  5. Cover and let rise again in a warm place about 45 minutes.
  6. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. If you are using an egg wash, mix a lightly beaten egg with a teaspoon of water. Lightly brush the egg wash over the rolls. This will give the buns a shiny appearance. 
  7. Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for about 15 minutes until rolls are baked through and golden on top.
  8. While the rolls are baking, mix together the icing and prepare a piping bag (or ziplock bag works well too). I like to put my bag into a cup with the edges of the bag hanging over the cup so it’s easier to scoop my icing into the bag. Scoop the icing into the corner of the bag and snip off a small corner of the bag where the icing is located.
  9. Once your rolls have baked, let them cool about 10 minutes before topping with the icing. Make a cross on the top of each bun. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!

Please share this recipe if you enjoyed it! Post a photo and tag me @amybakesbread so I can see your bake 🙂

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Easter Series: Pane di Pasqua Italian Easter Bread

Decorating Easter eggs has always been a tradition for me at Easter time. I loved doing it as a kid, and I have helped my own kids decorate eggs every year since they were little. Even when we lived in Japan and couldn’t find our normal egg dye, we still dyed Easter eggs. This bread is the perfect accompaniment to a family egg dying party. Not only does it look delicious on an Easter brunch table, but it is so much fun to make with kids. 

Pane di Pasqua, or Italian Easter bread, is a braided ring of delicious challa-type bread with a raw, decorated egg placed in the middle that is then baked. As the bread bakes in the oven, it bakes the egg along with it and you end up with a delicious hard-boiled egg, and bread to eat for Easter breakfast (or any breakfast). 

When I showed this recipe to my kids this year, the excitement was palpable. They loved helping braid the bread, dye the eggs (just some food coloring, vinegar and water) and then top the bread with sprinkles. To say this is a hit with kids is an understatement! I hope that you will give it a try and enjoy this delicious recipe with your loved ones around Easter time.

Yield: 6 small braided breads

Time: 20 minutes mix, 3-4 hours rise, 40 minutes shape, 25 minutes bake

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • ½-¾  cup sugar (depending how sweet you want your bread)
  • 1 Tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1 cup flour (initially, more will be added later)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4-5 cups all purpose flour
  • Flavorings (optional: orange zest, lemon zest, 1 tsp vanilla or almond extract)
  • Colorful Sprinkles
  • 1 egg for egg wash (1 egg mixed with 1 tsp water)
    • 6 raw eggs for dying
    • Food coloring
    • White vinegar

Instructions:

  1. Place warm water, sugar and instant yeast in a mixing bowl. Using a paddle attachment or a wooden spoon, mix in 1 cup of flour and stir well. Add salt and stir again. Then add the vegetable oil and eggs. If you want to add more flavor to the bread, now is the time. Add in some orange zest, lemon zest, almond/vanilla extract or a similar flavoring of your choosing. Mix all of these ingredients together until fully incorporated.
  2. Using a mixer (or by hand), begin adding the 4-5 cups of flour. Switch your mixer to a dough hook as you add in the flour, or begin kneading the dough by hand. Continue incorporating flour until the dough loses its stickiness or is just slightly sticky. This kneading process can take up to 10 minutes.
  3. Place the dough into an oiled bowl and let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours (though this will vary depending on your kitchen temperature). 
  4. While the dough is rising is the perfect time to dye your Easter Eggs. Mix together 3 drops of food coloring with ½ a teaspoon of white vinegar and about ¾ cup of water (this can be adjusted depending on how vibrant you want the colors). Dip or soak six raw eggs in the colors and let dry.
  5. After the dough has risen, punch it down and divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope-like strand, about 10-12 inches. 
  6. Pinch two strands together at the top and twist them around each other forming an easy twisted braid. Bring the end of the dough together with the top of the dough to form a braided circle and set on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the other pieces of dough. You will end up with six braided “nests” of dough.
  7. Place each Easter egg in the center of each nest of dough. 
  8.  Make an egg wash by whisking the egg and 1 tsp of water together in a small bowl. Lightly brush the egg wash over the top of each dough nest. Sprinkle some colorful sprinkles on top of the egg wash and cover with a kitchen towel.
  9. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and allow your dough to rise again, about 30-45 minutes.
  10. After the dough has risen and puffed up again, place your sheet pan in the oven and bake for 22-25 minutes. The egg will cook while in the oven along with the bread.
  11. Allow to cool a little before serving for Easter breakfast. Enjoy!

Please share this recipe if you enjoyed it! Post a photo and tag me @amybakesbread so I can see your bake 🙂

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