Hot Cross Bun-nies
It's spring in Austin, and Easter is coming faster than I expected! So the first recipe in in this new Texas kitchen will be these cute Hot Cross Bun-nies... get it!? I was so revved up to make the hot cross bun recipe that I made last year for my family, but in all this moving mayhem, I couldn't find the recipe in my mass of unopened boxes. So, I decided to doctor up my favorite milk bread recipe for a soft and fluffy Hot Cross Bun that's loaded with Raisins, Cranberries and spiced with orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom.
In my effort to minimize... effort, this bun is as easy as bread can come. All the ingredients except for the raisins gets thrown in an electric mixer and kneaded for 15 minutes. The dough becomes soft, pliable and tacky. You'll know that the dough is ready when it reaches the windowpane stage, which is when you can stretch the dough out and have it be thin enough to see light coming through without it breaking, Once you see this, throw in the raisins and cranberries and knead it a bit more to have the fruit evenly distributed in the dough. Once mixed cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for an hour.
After it has grown to about 1 1/2X it's size, punch down the dough and turn it out onto a board. Cut into 16 equal pieces. (I generally judge this by eye so mine aren't always so even... but that also gives me the chance to grab a bigger bun in the end!) Make a hole with your middle finger and thumb and push the dough through to create a smooth surface for the top of your bun. Using a pair of kitchen scissors cut two ears at one end of the bun. Make sure you make the incision deep enough so that the ears can stand up. Mine came out a little more cat like because I was a bit too cautious with my cuts. But a deeper cup would have fixed this!! Place the shaped bun in a 13X9 baking dish. Repeat with the rest of the dough then cover and allow to rise for another 30-45 min. Brush the tops with egg wash and bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes.
Allow to cool while you make the icing. You can do this with an electric mixer, but if your cream cheese is soft enough you can also mix it by hand with a whisk. Beat softened cream cheese, then beat in powdered sugar, vanilla and half and half, Place in a piping bag with a star tip and pipe little bunny tails onto the backs of the cooled buns. Save extra frosting for dipping the buns into when you decide to devour them! Because there's just never enough frosting.
These buns are delicious whether they turn out to be bunnies or just buns. If you decide to make these more traditional, pipe the frosting on in straight lines across the tops of all buns to create a clean cross shape. But seriously, who can resist a bunny bun!?
Hot Cross Bun-nies
Yields 16 buns
- 2/3 cup heavy cream (at room temperature)
- 1 cup, plus 1 tablespoon milk (at room temperature)
- 1 large egg (at room temperature)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup cake flour, tap measuring cup to avoid air pockets
- 3 1/2 cups bread flour, tap measuring cut to avoid air pockets
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp cardamom
- zest of one orange
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- Egg wash: whisk together 1 egg with 1 teaspoon water
- 4 oz cream cheese softened
- 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tblsp half and half
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
- In the bowl of a mixer, add ingredients in the following order: heavy cream, milk, egg, sugar, cake flour, bread flour, yeast, spices and salt. Use the dough hook attachment, and turn the mixer to low and let it knead for 15 minutes. Add in the raisins and dried cranberries and knead to evenly distribute the fruit.
- Cover the bowl with a damp towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot for 1 hour to rise. I like to use my oven's proofing function.
- After the hour of proofing, punch the dough down and dump the dough onto your bench. This dough doesn't need flour as it's tacky but won't stick.
- Cut the dough into 16 equal pieces. Roll into balls and place in a baking pan. Allow to rise for 30-45 minutes.
- Bake the buns at 350F for 20-25 minutes.
- Allow to cool and make the icing.
- Using an electric mixer or a wire whisk, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add in Powdered sugar, vanilla and half and half. Mix until smooth and well combined.
- Place the icing in a piping bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe on small dollops at the back of the cooled buns to create the "tails"
- Reserve extra icing for dipping the buns. Enjoy!