Raisins or currants are characteristic to Hot Cross Buns, which set me to wondering about the history of raisins. Since I create recipes for Sun-Maid, I checked with them. Their historical fact checking has found evidence of grape leaves in fossilized remains from roughly 12 million years ago, and earliest recorded mention of dried fruits on Mesopotamian tablets from 1700 BC. At that time dried fruits were used in breads and on spiced honey cakes for royalty. So compared to the first dried fruits, hot cross buns in the 12th century are a relative new-comer!
For today’s baker, this Hot Cross Bun recipe is made with a dough you can let rise overnight in the refrigerator, then shape and bake in the morning. Or make ahead, freeze, and set out a couple hours before serving to come to room temperature for Good Friday and Easter gatherings.
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Hot Cross Buns
|1/2||cup warm water (110-115°F)|
|2||pkgs. (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast|
|1/2||cup granulated sugar|
|4||cups all-purpose flour, or 2 cups each all-purpose and whole wheat|
|1/4||cup teaspoon nutmeg|
|1||cup Sun-Maid raisins|
|1||cup powdered sugar|
Stir warm water and yeast in a large mixing bowl or stand mixer bowl.
Heat milk and butter in a saucepan or microwave until 120°F, or very warm but not hot to the touch. Butter does not need to completely melt. Stir in sugar and salt.
Add milk mixture, egg, 2 cups flour, cinnamon and nutmeg to yeast. Beat until smooth.
Gradually mix in remaining flour. Stir in raisins. Dough will be soft and slightly sticky.
Cover and let rise in draft-free place for one hour until about doubled in bulk. Or, cover and refrigerate several hours or up to overnight.
Punch down dough and divide into 24 equal pieces. Roll into balls and place on greased or parchment lined baking sheet.
Mix egg yolk with 2 teaspoons water; brush on tops of dough balls. Let rise 30 minutes.
Bake in preheated 375°F oven for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
Stir glaze ingredients to make a smooth frosting like consistency. Scoop into a zip-top plastic sandwich bag and snip one corner. Squeeze in a cross over cooled rolls.
Recipe from Sun-Maid Growers. Photo by Kelly Burgoyne.