17 April 2014


The best part of playing in beginner band: hearing 50 hyper-active kids play Hot Cross Buns on their various noisemakers, badly and with the wrong notes.  That's what I still think of when I see these words in print. They are also a tasty little Easter-centric treat, particularly in the U.K. and its affiliates

This recipe is adapted from a very clever idea I saw on the excellent blog, The Kitchn, which uses Earl Grey tea to help flavor the dough. I skipped the piped icing and milk brushed on top; just toast them and have them with jam or butter if you need that in your lives.  I like to eat these and watch zombie movies.  Don't ask why.

Earl Grey Hot Cross Buns

Makes 12

2/3 cup water
3 Earl Grey tea bags
1 (1/4 ounce) packet of dried yeast
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 1/2 cups (16 ounces) all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter
1/3 cup milk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 lemon, zested
1 orange, zested
1/2 cup currants or raisins

Bring the water to a boil on the stovetop or in the microwave. Remove from heat and steep the tea bags in the water for 15 minutes. Remove the tea bags, squeezing as much liquid as possible out of them and discard. Let the tea cool until it is lukewarm.

In a small bowl, stir together the brewed tea, yeast, sugar and 1/2 cup of the flour. Set aside for 15 minutes.

Heat the butter and milk together in a small saucepan over a low heat until the butter has just melted; remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Whisk in the egg.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the remaining flour, salt, spices, lemon zest, orange zest and currants. Pour the tea mixture and the milk mixture over top. Stir together until there are only a few floury patches remaining. Tip the contents of the dough out onto a work surface and knead until smooth, about 10 minutes.

Clean the large mixing bowl and grease with some oil. Place the dough in the bowl, cover with oiled plastic wrap, and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Divide the risen dough evenly into 12 pieces and roll them into balls. Place onto a parchment-lined baking tray spaced a few inches apart. Slash a cross into the top of each bun using a sharp knife or razor. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and leave to rise for 30 minutes until doubled in size.

While the buns are rising, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown all over. Cool completely then store in an airtight container for up to 5 days or freeze for up to a month.