Hot Cross Buns
1 ( 1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm (about 110 degrees) water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 to 3 cups flour plus extra for dusting work surface
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup chopped dried fruits (such as apricots and cranberries)
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons milk
Sponge: In a small bowl, stir together yeast, water, sugar and
flour. Cover and let sit 10 minutes until bubbly.
Buns: While the yeast proofs, heat milk in a saucepan until
just before it comes to a boil. Pour milk into large mixing bowl,
then stir in sugar, butter, egg, vanilla and salt. Let cool to
lukewarm. When cooled, use a mixer to mix in yeast mixture. Add
flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and cinnamon until dough comes away from
the bowl (2 1/2 to 2 3/4 cups flour).
Scrape dough onto a floured work surface. Knead in dried fruits,
adding enough flour to keep dough from sticking to your hands. Knead
about 8 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic.
Form dough into a ball and place in a large lightly oiled bowl,
turning to coat the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen
towel and let rise 1 to 1 1/2 hours until doubled in bulk. Punch
dough down with your fist, form into a log shape and divide into 12
equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball and place on a baking
sheet. Cover and let rise again for about 45 minutes until doubled
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Snip a cross onto the top of each bun
with kitchen scissors or a sharp knife. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes
Icing: In a bowl, combine confectioners' sugar, lemon juice
and enough milk to make a thick, but drizzling consistency icing.
Drizzle icing over cooled buns in a cross shape.
Variation: To prepare ahead of time, make the dough a day
ahead. Let it rise once, then punch down and divide into balls.
Place balls in a zipper-top bag in the refrigerator. The next
morning, place them on baking sheet, cover with a kitchen towel and
let sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes. Bake and ice as
The dough has risen enough when 2 fingers inserted into it leave
indentations. If it springs back immediately, cover and let it rise
a little longer.
Makes 12 servings.