Not too long ago, Easter meant getting up early, dressing the girls up in pretty dresses, and having Easter egg hunts early in the morning. I’d run around with a camcorder (then later an iPhone), trying my best to record the event while Jeff and I encouraged our girls and their cousins to find all the eggs. Once all the eggs were gathered, we would have a big pot-luck brunch with family and open up Easter baskets full of candy, small stuffed animals, and books.
Thank goodness I recorded those moments. Kids grow up quickly!
This year, I was lucky that newly employed Maia’s wasn’t scheduled to work on Sunday. She likes her job, and would happily take a shift, regardless of it being a holiday.
Though Easter traditions are changing for us,there’s always an opportunity to keep some sense of holiday. This year I made hot-cross buns for my family to wake up to Good Friday morning.
Making a treat for Friday morning takes the pressure from doing something on Easter Sunday…a necessity in case someone gets scheduled for work, or if (weather-permitting) we’re lucky enough to get together for some family sledding in nearby Tahoe.
Making breads is usually time-consuming, but it’s worth it for hot cross buns. This particular recipe takes about three hours, mostly inactive. I offset that time commitment by starting the recipe while making dinner Thursday night. When the dough is ready, I shape the buns and refrigerate them, leaving the baking for Friday morning.
My tip: try to let the buns do a cold rise overnight. The buns come out fluffier and puffier. Besides, waking up to the aroma of freshly baked bread is not a bad way to go for Good Friday morning. They’re great with hot coffee or tea.
- 2 cups milk (I used 2%, but whole is preferable.)
- ½ canola oil
- ½ cup granulated sugar (plus ¼ cup more)
- 1 package active dry yeast (about 2¼ tsp)
- 4 cups all-purpose flour (plus ½ more)
- ½ tsp baking powder (heaping)
- ½ tsp baking soda (scant)
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ cup golden raisins
- EGG WASH
- 1 egg white
- 1 tbsp milk
- 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 tbsp milk
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp finely grated lemon zest
- Combine the milk, canola oil, and ½ cup of the granulated sugar in a Dutch oven or other large 4-6 quart saucepan and heat until warm. Don't boil. Set aside and let cool to touch, about 20 minutes.
- Add yeast and mix with whisk, then add 4 cups of flour and combine. Mixture will be sticky, but you'll still be able to stir it with a spoon.
- First rise: Cover with a towel and set aside for 1 hour, or until doubled.
- Add the baking powder and soda, as well as salt and remaining ½ cup of flour. Stir with spoon until combined.
- Grease a large bowl with cooking spray and move the dough from the saucepan to the bowl and knead a bit more. Flour your hands to help with the sticking. This will help it become more satiny and pilable.
- In a separate, small bowl, combine the remaining ¼ cup granulated sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
- Lightly flour a work surface and turn out the dough onto it. The dough will be really sticky, so you might need more flour to work with it.
- Do the following to mix in the sugar and raisins: press to flatten the dough. Spring a third of the sugar/cinnamon mixture on it, as well as the raisins. Fold the dough over on itself and flatten again. Repeat the process two more times until the sugar/cinnamon and raisins are incorporated.
- Line a large baking sheet with a silicon mat or parchment paper. (Mine is
- Make golf-ball sized buns, and place on baking sheet.
- Second rise: cover and allow to rise in warm place for about an hour.
- (Recommended tip: Refrigerate after the second rise so that the buns are ready for baking first thing in the morning.)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Make the egg wash. Mix egg white with a splash of milk. Brush onto the buns before placing in the oven.
- When the buns have turned golden brown (about 18 minutes) remove from oven and cool on baking racks.
- Make the icing. In a small bowl, combine the sifted sugar, milk, lemon zest, and vanilla.
- When buns are cool, add icing to a small zip top bag and snip the corner. Make icing crosses on the buns and allow to set.
(Recipe adapted from Food Network.)