Easy Hot Cross Buns - All the flavors of traditional rolls but made much easier with store bought rolls. This is great recipe if you are short on time or intimidated about bread baking - A semi homemade traditional Good Friday treat!
Easy Hot Cross Buns - Ultra Easy!
Easter is one of the most important holidays that Christians celebrate. It is traditional to eat these buns on Good Friday every year. The sweet yeast buns are amazingly delicious homemade from scratch, flavored with orange and spices.
However, we resort to a quick version when we are short on time like this Easter nests! This is inspired from our Quick and Easy cinnamon rolls made with Hawaiian rolls.
As much as we love freshly baked yeast breads, a semi homemade recipe does come in handy on a busy day or for those who are taking baby steps into the kitchen. This recipe begins with store bought sweet rolls that is cut to make a "CROSS" pattern filled with orange-cinnamon butter, baked and then glazed to create the iconic cross sign.
Why will you like this recipe?
- Ready in about 1 hour from start to finish - Unlike traditional bread baking that requires working with a temperamental yeast dough with much needed kneading and rising time, this recipe uses store-bought rolls for convenience.
- Semi homemade -If you are learning your way around the kitchen, young kids, do not own a stand mixer or just short of time, then this is perfect for you.
- Flavorful - Just because this is a shortcut recipe does not mean that it is short on flavor. We have come up with ways to incorporate all the traditional flavors like cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, raisins or currants and orange (check out orange coffee cake recipe) into the rolls.
- Great for entertaining - If you are hosting a Easter Brunch after church or Easter Egg Hunt, then is a great addition to your spread, since it is extremely easy to make.
What are Hot Cross Buns?
It is sweet, enriched yeast bun made with fruit (such as raisins, currants and sometimes with candied citrus) and spices and marked with a cross on top, which makes them instantly recognizable. The cross is believed to represent the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, is made using flour marked before baking or etched on top with icing.
Dating back to 12th century, they are traditionally eaten in Good Friday (the Friday before Easter Sunday, also known as the "Day of the Cross"), they mark the end of lent season for Christians. They can be eaten plain or buttered and also very good when split in half, toasted, and served with butter and jam.
There are many stories as to when the first Buns were made, and the story is related to the Anglo Saxons. In the Middle Ages, home bakers marked their loaves with crosses before baking, which was believed to ensure a successful bake, warding off the evil spirits that inhibit the bread from rising. This superstition gradually faded, except for marking Good Friday loaves with the cross sign.
There is also a superstition that Hot Cross Buns baked on Good Friday never became moldy and it is good luck to save one bun until the next year's buns are made. The custom gained traction, and over the years, fruits and precious spices were included to represent health and prosperity. They were also known as "cross buns" until the 18th century.
The nursery rhyme
The Hot Cross Bun rhyme probably evolved from the street cry and, according to The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes, it was recorded in “The Christmas Box,” published in London in 1798 (find more history here).
It’s thought it started from bakers yelling at customers to buy their buns, but has now become a traditional nursery rhyme sang at Easter time, or used to teach children how to play the recorder. Nowadays, they are not anywhere close to costing one a penny or two a penny!
Is it hot cross buns or hot crossed buns?
The correct name is “hot cross buns” but some people may think they’ve heard it as “hot crossed” and so that’s what they repeat.
What do they taste like?
This recipe is made using soft brioche or sweet Hawaiian rolls which gives an amazing softness, lightlly sweet, warm and spicy with cinnamon and all spices. This recipe uses raisins.
Making the cross on top
Made from scratch recipes have the cross on top of the buns made in two ways - A paste of flour and water is piped on top of the buns before baking or confectioners sugar icing are piped on top after baking.
What kind of rolls to use?
Look for sweet, Egg enriched rolls in your grocery store like King's Hawaiian Original Hawaiian Sweet Rolls, Brioche rolls, sweet dinner rolls, Hawaiian dinner rolls or Hawaiian sweet buns.
Ingredients you need
Any store-bought sweet rolls, fresh orange for zest and juice, regular white granulated sugar & confectioners sugar, butter, golden raisins and ground spices like cinnamon, all spice and nutmeg.
Pro Tips for Success
Use only sweet rolls and not salty, spicy or savory ones.
Grate orange zest using a microplane into a fine zest.
Adjust spices or skip them based on your liking.
Raisins or currants? Although currants are uses in traditional recipes, it sometime hard to find them in regular grocery stores. Golden raisins are a great substitute.
Cut the rolls about one inch deep and not all the way through.
Make sure the butter is warm for a pouring consistency. Drizzle into the cut openings, so the the mixture soaks into the bread.
Make sure that the icing is a thick consistency, otherwise you might not get a distinctive cross pattern. To check the right consistency, when lifted from the surface with a spoon, it forms a soft peak but doesn’t flow back into the rest of the icing. It should not be too thick that it’s hard to stir nor too thin that it settles into a flat surface after several seconds.
How to make?
Cut rolls - Cut each roll one direction (not cutting all the way through), turn 90° and cut in the opposite direction. Stuff the cut opening with raisins.
Make Orange-cinnamon glaze - Stir together warm melted butter, orange juice, finely grated orange zest, ground cinnamon and all spice together. Drizzle into the cut openings.
Bake and finish with icing - Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes and cool until warm. Stir confectioners sugar, vanilla and water/milk to make a very thick glaze. Spoon into a small zip lock bag, snip off a corner and squeeze cross pattern on the baked rolls.
How to store leftovers?
If you have leftovers, then simply store them in a sealed container at room temperature for up to a day or two. Do not refrigerate.
Can these be frozen?
Sure can! Freeze the baked and cooled rolls (without the confectioners sugar icing) for up to a month. Thaw overnight at room temperature, glaze and serve after glaze sets.
Easy Hot Cross Buns with Store-Bought Rolls
- Preheat oven to 350°F and spray a baking pan ( that can fit one package rolls) with non-stick cooking spray.
- Cut each roll in one direction (about 1-inch deep), turn 90 degrees and cut in the other direction (refer photos/video). Gentle transfer rolls into the baking pan. Insert raisins/currants into the cut opening.
- Make orange-butter - Stir all orange butter ingredients in a small bowl until sugar is dissolved (make sure that butter is warm when mixing, else it will not make a drizzling consistency).
- Using a spoon drizzle orange-butter evenly into the cut opening (use all the butter), making sure the butter soaks into the bread inside.
- Bake for 14 to 16 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Place baking pan on a wire rack and let cool until lukewarm.
- Make glaze - Stir all glaze ingredients in a bowl, until smooth and very thick or "piping consistency" to get a distinctive cross pattern (When lifted from the surface with a spoon, it forms a soft peak and doesn't flow back into the rest of the icing. If its' too thick that it will be hard to stir and too thin will settle into a flat surface after several seconds).
- Transfer to a zip lock bag, close to seal. Snip off a small piece at the corner. Pipe a line down the center of each row of buns, then repeat in the other direction to create "CROSS".
- Let icing set for about an hour before serving.
Nutritional information, based on third-party calculations, should be seen as estimates, not guarantees, as various factors like product types, brands, processing methods, and more can alter the nutritional content in recipes.
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