According to Wikipedia.org, “Hot Cross Buns” is an English language nursery rhyme, Easter song and street cry referring to the spiced English bun associated with Good Friday known as a Hot Cross Bun. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 13029.
The most common modern version is:
Hot cross buns! Hot cross buns! one a penny, two a penny, Hot cross buns!
If you have no daughters, give them to your sons. One a penny two a penny, Hot cross buns!
The earliest record of the rhyme is in Christmas Box, published in London in 1798. However, there are earlier references to the rhyme as a street cry in London, for example in Poor Robin’s Almanack for 1733, which noted:
Good Friday comes this month, the old woman runs With one or two a penny hot cross buns
Combine 2 cups milk, canola oil, and 1/2 cup sugar in a saucepan. Stir and heat until very warm but not boiling. Turn off the heat and allow to cool until mixture is still warm, but not hot–about 30 minutes.
Sprinkle yeast over mixture. Add 4 cups of flour and stir to combine. Mixture will be very sticky. Cover with a towel and set aside for 1 hour.
Add 1/2 cup flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir till combined.
Combine 1/4 cup sugar with cinnamon and whatever other spices you want to use.
Lightly flour surface. Press to slightly flatten dough. Sprinkle a couple tablespoons of the sugar/cinnamon mixture. Sprinkle on about a third of the raisins. Then fold the dough over on itself and flatten again so the dough is “plain” again. Repeat the sugar/raisin process, then fold the dough again. Repeat a third time until all the raisins are used. (You won’t use all the sugar/cinnamon mixture.)
Pinch off ping pong or golf ball-size bunches of dough. With floured hands, quickly roll it into a ball, then turn the edges under themselves slightly. Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for at least 30 minutes…an hour-plus is better.
PREHEAT OVEN TO 400 degrees
Mix 1 egg white with a splash of milk. Brush onto each roll.
Bake for 20 minutes, give or take, or until tops of buns have turned nice and golden brown.
Remove from pan and allow to cool on a cooling rack.
Mix 1 egg white with enough powdered sugar for icing to be very thick. Splash in milk as needed for consistency.
Add icing to a small Ziploc bag and snip the corner. Make icing crosses on each roll, making sure they’re completely cooled first.
Hot cross buns are now traditionally served during the Christian Easter season, on Fridays during Lent and on Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. However, their roots are rumored to have come from pagan spring festivals. Easter and the spring equinox all represent the season of renewal of nature in different traditions. What we now consider a cross symbol on top of hot cross buns was also originally a cross in honor of the moon for Egyptians and Greeks, a representation of a full moon and its four quarters to Romans.
Yield: 12 buns
2 ounces fresh yeast
2 cups lukewarm milk
1/4 cup honey
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
4 1/2 cups high-gluten flour
Spice mix, recipe follows
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup dark raisins
1/2 cup golden raisins
Glaze, recipe follows Spice Mix:
1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup milk, plus more as needed
Crumble the yeast into a large mixing bowl and add 1 cup of the warm milk (the milk should feel just warm to the touch but not hot). Using the dough hook attachment, gently mix together.
Add the honey, butter, 2 eggs, flour, spice mix, salt, and raisins. Start the mixer and gently pour in the remaining 1 cup of milk while mixing. The dough should come together as a soft ball after a few minutes of mixing. If it is too sticky add a few sprinkles of additional flour; if it is too hard add a few more drops of cold milk.
Turn this soft dough out directly onto a sheet pan and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise until about doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
When it has double in size, turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Cut the dough in half and each half in half, etc. until you have a dozen pieces. Shape these pieces into rounds with your hands. Place these rounds equally spaced apart on a floured piece of parchment on a sheet pan. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until almost doubled in size. (If you press gently with your finger on a bun it should bounce back but your fingerprint should remain a bit.)
Beat the remaining egg with a fork in a small bowl. Very gently brush this mixture on each of the buns. Using a sharp knife cut a cross shape in the top of each bun. Besides being decorative this allows the bread to rise nicely as it bakes.
Bake in for about 15 minutes or until browned. Let cool.
When cool, ice each bun with the glaze in a cross shape, following your cuts and using your spatula to drizzle icing on.
Mix together all the ingredients.
Put the sugar in a large bowl with the milk. Work the sugar and milk together until combined, adding additional milk 1 teaspoon at a time, until you have a nice smooth thick glaze.