Hot cross buns are traditional Easter Rolls that are marked with a cross, usually made from frosting. The bun, filled with dried fruit, was originally baked in honor of Eastre, Godess of Spring.During the Middle Ages all breads were marked with a cross — bakers felt that the holy marking would keep the devil from causing the bread to mold or burn. In the 1600s, under the pressure from Puritans, this practice was discontinued except on certain holy days. In fact the only time baked goods couple be marked with a cross was Good Friday.
Here’s the deal. While I love raisins and other dried fruit out of the box I rarely like it in any sort of baked thing. The texture changes and it just bothers me. Hot cross buns are generally a minefield of rum soaked dried fruit and, while I am not adverse to rum for breakfast, the whole package together is just not something that most of my family would enjoy. Keeping that in mind I decided to throw caution to the wind, remove whatever nutritional value might be lurking in the buns, and substitute the dried fruit with white chocolate chips.
Pure evil, right?
These are big, chewy, sweet, spicy buns with a fragile sugar crust on the top that teases you with a crisp shell that melts away in seconds. Cloves, nutmeg, and roasted cinnamon make the whole house smell amazing while they are baking. As you eat them you get random blasts of white chocolate. They are not as sweet as a cinnamon roll but way more interesting than a piece of toast. Slightly warmed with a slather of orange marmalade?
Now, there’s no reason that you need to wait for Easter to make them. Hot Cross buns are just as yummy on a dreary, rainy Wednesday as they are on Good Friday. Maybe even better.
If you are pushed for time you can even cover the unbaked, shaped rolls loosely with greased plastic wrap and let them rise in the refrigerator overnight.
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Hot Cross Buns with Orange and White Chocolate
- 1/4 cup water, 100F-110F
- 1 tablespoon yeast
- 4 all-purpose flour, or bread flour – you may need a bit more
- 1 cup milk, , 110F
- 3 large eggs, , room temperature, separate one egg white out
- 6 tablespoons butter, , melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 2 tablespoons orange zest
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon cardamom
- 1 cup white chocolate chips
- Reserved egg white
- 1 tablespoon cream
- Sugar crystals for sprinkling
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- pinch of salt
- 4 teaspoons cream
- Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan.
- Mix together all of the dough ingredients except the white chocolate chips.
- Knead until the dough is soft and elastic.
- Mix in the white chocolate.
- Let the dough rise for 1 hour, covered. It should become puffy, though may not double in bulk.
- Divide the dough into 12 balls.
- Arrange them in the prepared pan.
- Cover the pan, and let the buns rise for 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Whisk together the reserved egg white and cream, and brush it over the buns.
- Sprinkle with sugar.
- Bake the rolls for 20 minutes, until they’re golden brown.
- Remove from the oven, and cool.
- Mix together the icing ingredients.
- Pipe a cross on the cooled buns.
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