Hot Cross Buns

I think I’ve mentioned before, that I’ve started baking with my children.

At least once a week, if not more, the oldest and I are putting together some yummy concoction – while my youngest cheers us on (okay, he usually is sitting in his seat at the kitchen table munching on a snack – but he’s working with us in spirit, I can tell).  I really thought this was making an impression on my kiddos.

That was, until dinner the other night.  My oldest had been studying Nursery Rhymes in Preschool and had learned the rhyme, Hot Cross Buns.  The class had also made some buns – though my son was quick to clarify that they were the frozen kind (of course they were, I thought, — if I was making buns with over a dozen preschoolers, you better believe they’d be the frozen kind, too.)  He looked very sweetly at his Dad, and asked, “Daddy, can you and I make real Hot Cross Buns together sometime?”

Seriously, dagger through the heart.

He didn’t even consider asking me.  Apparently, in his head, Dad is still his go-to cooking person, and I’m still the one that uses the microwave.  Awesome.

I guess I could’ve seen this as a time to give up.  To feel sorry for myself.

But nope, not me.

I saw this as a challenge.

The Recipe:

Hot Cross Buns, from Martha Stewart

12 T (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 c plus 1 T milk

2 packages active dry yeast

1/2 c granulated sugar

2 t plus one pinch salt

3/4 t ground cinnamon

3/4 t freshly grated nutmeg

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

5 1/2 c all-purpose, flour plus more for dusting

1 1/3 c currants

1 large egg white

2 c confectioners’ sugar

2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice

Generously butter a large bowl. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, heat 1 cup milk until it is warm to touch.

Pour warm milk into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook.  With mixer on low, add yeast, granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, melted butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, and beaten eggs.

With mixer on low, add flour, 1 cup at a time, until a soft, slightly sticky dough forms around the dough hook, about 3 minutes. Continue kneading, scraping down hook and sides of bowl as necessary until smooth, about 4 minutes longer.  Add currants, and knead until combined, about 30 seconds.

Turn dough out onto a heavily floured surface.  Knead by hand to evenly distribute currants, about 1 minute.

Shape dough into a ball, and place in the buttered bowl; turn ball to coat with butter, and cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap.  Let dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour 20 minutes.

Generously butter an 11-by-17-inch baking sheet.  Turn dough out onto work surface, and knead briefly to redistribute the yeast. Divide dough into 24 equal pieces, about 2 ounces each.  Shape pieces into tight balls, and place on baking sheet, spaced 1/2 inch apart.  Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until touching and doubled in bulk, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Heat oven to 375 degrees, with rack positioned in center.  To make egg wash, whisk together egg white, 1 tablespoon water, and pinch of salt in a small bowl; brush tops of buns with egg wash.  Using very sharp scissors or a buttered slicing knife, slice a cross into the top of each bun. Transfer pan to oven, and bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes.  Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool.

Make glaze: In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon milk, confectioners sugar, and lemon juice.  Pipe or ladle glaze over buns, and serve.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

That very night, I invited my oldest to make some buns with me.

Everything started off great.  We melted the butter and waited for it to cool, warmed our milk, and started mixing our ingredients…and this is what it looked like:

Obviously, this mixture did not look right.  But we forged on anyways.  Adding the flour was a good thing (Side note: can anyone please explain how I always end up wearing black on days I bake?).  It changed this crazy soupy mess into an actual dough.

Now it was during this flour-adding process that I got a little confused.  Add flour one cup at a time…after three minutes it should be sticky??  Three minutes after all the flour was added or three minutes after you started?  I’m not sure how it happened, but I ended up kneading the dough for quite a while, as I kept thinking we were done adding flour.  But then we needed to add more – and then had to re-knead it in.  It was a vicious circle, I tell you.

Oh, and we didn’t have any currants, so I substituted raisins.  (Yes, I like raisins in breads, just not in cookies.)

Anyways, the dough ended up looking fine.  It rose, and then we divided it up to make our dough balls.  Those rose until they were touching, and I snipped at the tops to make some traditional crosses in the middle.They baked away and viola…

Don’t they look gorgeous?  Fresh out of the oven, with a little glaze on top, and they were yummy.

Now, I could end my story here, and you’d think all was well, but really, it wasn’t.

As they cooled, the unfinished edges that were stuck together started to get crusty.  I quickly moved them all to a ziplock bag, and didn’t think too much of it.  But the next morning, when we went to eat one for breakfast, they were completely dried out – not just the edges, but inside, too.

They were basically inedible – even when I tried heating one in the microwave with some butter inside.

We ended up throwing out the bunch – with only three having been eaten.

So, I wonder if I kneaded them too much, which caused the dryness?  Or that the original wet ingredients didn’t mix so well?  I’m really not sure…but I don’t think we’ll make these again.

My oldest was happy with the one he ate, and I was happy that we got to bake together.

I’m crossing my fingers, though, that next time, maybe, he’ll ask me first.

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8 thoughts on “Hot Cross Buns

  1. This is too cute Courtney. They sure look great even if they were only edible right from the oven (but that’s the best time to eat them anyway!). I’m sure your son will remember his time cooking with you. In fact, I have no doubts. 🙂

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  2. Glad you took the opportunity to share a baking experience with him even if he first thought of dad (erroneously I might add). They look beautiful. I was very jealous…until I started reading further. Sorry it was not as it appeared to be. Also, yes, over mixing would definitely lead to a tougher texture. And fresh rolls are almost never very edible the next day I have found. There just is no preservative to keep it soft. So I think it was a mixture of both; a little over mixing and homemade bread’s lack of being able to last over the long haul.

    P.S. I really would love for you to come for a visit sometime…I would even seriously consider loaning you a sofa. 😉 We should actually meet in the middle (I guess it’s more like 30/70) for a weekend trip to San Francisco. Do you think your hubby would set you free for a weekend of shopping AND EATING sometime?!

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  3. Oh no…. and they look(ed) sooo pretty! I was sure there would be a photo of your kids with icing all over their cheeks:( I have no idea what went wrong, I’ve never been brave enough to make these. Good on you for trying!

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  4. That’s really sweet you were able to bake with your son, even if the buns didn’t turn out as well as expected. At least they looked pretty dang gorgeous! And Kristy is right, eating them fresh out of the oven is always the best time anyways. I give you major props for giving these a go. Can’t say I’ve tried yet!

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  5. I agree with everyone they look gorgeous! So sorry they dried out the next morning
    and I love the fact that you baked these with your son even after he asked dad. I was reading your story and when I read he asked his dad , I was like ouch!
    I bake with my kids too and hope they will remember the experience when they grow up.

    Oh and I do tend to wear black on days I bake too lol

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  6. They look so amazing – the cheek of them drying out! I wonder why they did that, I’ve made breads and scones before and I can’t think why. But then again I’m on to my third batch of rice crispy bars that won’t bind so I wouldn’t be taking advice from me!

    By the way – I adore the honesty in your posts, the only way to cook is to make mistakes and let people know what really happened. You could of finished up with just the gorgeous pic of the bun but you didn’t. Hats off to you!

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  7. I’m so sorry to hear this! It is hard to believe because you made them so beautiful 🙂 I love hot cross buns and I can’t imagine Easter without them. If are interested in them, I have a recipe for these buns on my page and they always turn out great 🙂

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