Every year at Easter Time, I make some hot cross buns. It’s pretty traditional, and it’s a Good Friday tradition in the UK. Every year I get a little bored with the recipe as well. So this year, I decided to mix it up and instead of using raisins, cranberries, currants or (as I did last year) dried apricots, I decided to use chocolate covered dried cherries. They we’re a bit big so I did chopped them a little. If you don’t have chocolate covered cherries in particular, I suppose Raisinets would work as well. Or if you like the cherry-chocolate combo, then mini-chocolate chips and some dried cherries. Pleased with the result.
For the Buns
2 cups Whole Milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut to 1/2 inch cubes
3/4 cup Sugar, divided
2 1/2 Teaspoons Active Dry Yeast
4 cups All-purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
2 teaspoons Salt
1/4 cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
Spices: Cardamom, Nutmeg, Allspice (optional)
1 cup chocolate covered dried cherries (if large, chopped into pieces;
alternatively, you can use dried cherries and mini-chocolate chips)
For the Glaze
1 Egg White
Splash of Milk
For the Icing
1 Egg White
Splash of Milk
Combine 2 cups milk, butter, and 1/2 cup sugar in a saucepan. Stir and heat until very warm but not boiling, and all the butter is melted. Turn off the heat and allow to cool until mixture is still warm, but not hot (110F), about 30 minutes.
In a stand mixer fitted with the dough attachment, add flour and make a well in the middle. Sprinkle in the yeast and the remaining sugar. Once the milk mixture is cooled to between 100-100F, add half of it (about 1 cup) to the work bowl. Let sit for 15 minutes. It should become foamy (if it does not, you’ve killed your yeast). After the 15 minutes, add in the remaining milk mixture, the spices baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix everything until it is a sticky dough.
Grease a large bowl with oil and place dough in it. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place for 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
Lightly flour surface. Press to slightly flatten dough. Sprinkle on about a third of the chocolate covered cherries. Then fold the dough over on itself and flatten again so the dough is “plain” again. Add another third of the cherries, then fold the dough again. Repeat a third time.
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 silpat-lined baking sheet. Cover with a clean dish towel and allow to rise in a warm place for another hour.
Preheat oven to 400F.
Mix 1 egg white with a splash of milk. Brush onto each roll. Bake for approximately 22-25 minutes, or until tops of buns have turned golden brown. Remove from pan and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.
Finally, ice your hot cross buns. 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.