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A traditional Easter bread

"Hot Cross Buns" make Easter very special!
"Hot Cross Buns" make Easter very special!
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If there's any bread associated with Easter, it's the Hot Cross Bun. This bread has long been connected to Easter, with it being served typically on Good Friday. This is a spiced bread that has an icing cross on the top. They're as pretty to see as they are to eat!

If you've never tried your hand at making this classic bread for Easter, here's your chance! This is the recipe I'm sharing with you and you may find these easier to make than you originally figured. This recipe for "Hot Cross Buns" is made with the short-cut method of bread baking. This means not having to dissolve the yeast ahead, but rather combining it with the dry ingredients. Milk and butter are heated together and added to the dry ingredients. This gets beaten together and then eggs and more flour go into the mix. Another two minutes of beating come here then enough flour is added to make a soft dough. This is now kneaded for about 8-10 minutes. It now receives its first rise. When this rise is completed, raisins, dates and lemon rind are worked into the dough. This is now formed into rolls and placed in baking pans. When they've risen, they are now baked. When cool, a lemon icing cross is drizzled over each. There you have it! A traditional Easter bread!

If you're fortunate enough to have a heavy-duty electric mixer with a dough hook attachment, mixing and kneading this bread will be fast and effortless. Even if you don't own one of these mixers, you can still do the kneading by hand. When kneading by hand, make certain to have a work surface dusted with flour and when working the dough, think of the work space like a clock. With your hands at the 12:00 position, fold the dough towards you at the 6:00 position. Fold and push back. Rotate the dough 1/4 a turn from the top to the 9:00 position and repeat this process. This is the kneading step and you may find it fun to do this way! After doing this for about 8-10 minutes, you'll find the dough becoming elastic and easy to work with. Keep your work surface dusted with flour as you knead.

To make the crosses on the buns, you can placing the prepared icing in a pastry bag with a narrow frosting tip and form the crosses this way. While it can be done by hand with a spoon, I've found the pastry bag method to be much easier. This makes 18 buns, which will be good to have handy if you're entertaining over the Easter holiday weekend.

A long while back, I shared another Easter bread for "Orange Bunny Buns", which are flavored with orange and shaped into bunnies. Cute and good to eat! To get the recipe, in case you missed it earlier, here's the link:

http://www.examiner.com/article/an-easter-bread-for-everybunny

If you're new to bread baking or have never made this classic bread before, try these and see if they become traditional with you!

HOT CROSS BUNS

  • 4 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 envelope dry yeast
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped dates
  • 1 tablespoons grated lemon rind

Egg Wash:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon water

Lemon Frosting:

  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon hot milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine 1-1/2 cups of the flour, with the sugar, salt, spices and yeast in a large bowl. Heat the milk and butter over low heat until warm. Gradually add to the dry ingredients and beat for 2 minutes with electric mixer at medium speed. Add the eggs and 1/2 cup more of the flour. Beat at high speed for 2 minutes. Gradually work in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead on a floured surface until smooth and elastic (if using a dough hook, follow manufacturer's directions). Place in an oiled bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled.

Punch down and knead in raisins, dates and lemon rind. Divide dough into 18 equal pieces and roll each into a ball. Place in 2 greased 9 inch pans. Brush with egg wash. Cover with waxed paper and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until they test done. Remove to wire racks to cool. Combine frosting ingredients and form a cross on each bun. Yield: 18 buns.