Cranberry orange hot cross buns are quick to make (for a yeast bread) and delicious enough to be a sure crowd-pleaser this Easter!
You know I can’t get enough cranberries! I keep bags of cranberries in my freezer year-round (and you can usually find frozen ones at the grocery store) but I’m using dried cranberries here because A) not everyone is on the cranberry bandwagon to the same degree I am and B) I got to finish the bag of craisins after I finished baking. #cranberriesforlife.
Side note: I’m spending way too much time on instagram, hashtagging everything, wanting to communicate only via emoji. I’m the girl who, up until a few weeks ago, still wrote out EVERY SINGLE WORD in texts. No abbreviations. No slangy shorthand.
But now I’d rather give a thumbs up to the checker at the grocery store than respond “everything in one bag would be great.” Speaking just seems inefficient. I have to say I don’t like this side of myself–but I’m a leetle obsessed with insta so I don’t see myself going on a social media diet any time soon.
Whoa, where did that tangent come from?
Back to the reason you’re here: cranberry orange hot cross buns. They’re like my favorite cranberry quick bread in yeast bread (bun) form. And they’re here to grace your Easter table and make your family think you spent hours in the kitchen, when we both know these little dough balls were really pretty simple to make.
But the veryvery best part of the hot cross buns? Besides the taste? The way my kitchen smells right now. You do not even know! It’s insane. Like holidays and sweet baked goods and just plain joy.
Try to hold yourself back from eating one (or three) when you pull them out of the oven. You’ll see what I mean. Nothing has a right to smell this amazing.
And I learned something about myself in the course of baking these: I would never have made it as a surgeon. Not that I’ve ever aspired to be a surgeon but based on how shakily I piped those crosses on top it’s safe to say no one with connected brain cells would allow me near a scalpel.
You can use dark raisins if you prefer; I usually don’t care for goldens but thought their sweetness worked better with the tart cranberries. If you don’t like raisins you can use more cranberries or chopped dried apricots or whatever your heart desires.
There’s pretty much no way to go wrong. These fluffy little hot cross buns are just too right.
- 1/4 cup rum (or apple juice)
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 1 1/4 cups whole milk
- 3 large eggs, 1 separated
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
- finely grated zest of 1 to 2 oranges*
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg white (reserved from the eggs you used for the rolls)
- 1 tablespoon whole milk
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons fresh squeezed orange juice (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 to 4 teaspoons whole milk, or enough to make a thick-but-pipeable frosting
- Place the rum, cranberries, and raisins in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave until the mixture is just warm. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Once the mixture has cooled, place all bun ingredients (except the cranberry mixture) in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix on medium speed until dough is soft and elastic—about 4 to 6 minutes. Add the cranberry mixture along with any liquid the fruit did not absorb and mix until evenly distributed. (Dough will be very wet and sticky.)
- Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature for 1 hour. Dough will be puffy but will not necessarily appear to have risen much.
- Lightly spray a 9- x 13-inch baking pan. Divide dough into about 12 (larger) to 15 (smaller) buns. Butter your hands to form them into balls and arrange in the prepared pan.
- Cover the pan and let the buns rise for 1 hour, or until they’ve gotten puffy and smoosh into each other.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together egg wash ingredients and brush over the buns.
- Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until buns are lightly golden. Set pan on a wire rack to cool.
- Once buns have cooled completely, stir together frosting ingredients. Pipe a cross shape onto each bun. Serve and enjoy.
*I like it on the orange-y side so I used 2. Adjust to your own preferences.
Adapted from King Arthur Flour