Tradition.

So, this Easter I was struck by how transitory Brett and my living arrangements are, at least for the near future of Army living ….and that one thing that really suffers as we live this army lifestyle are Holiday traditions. Depending on the year we could be any number of places for all those important holidays ( namely Christmas and Easter…) and I find it really important to have some sort of tradition to keep my mind focused where its suppose to be ( heavenward, but also something that will bring the Joy and Delight that I remember as a child…enter:

Hot Cross Buns. These little bits of baked goodness were something that I was not introduced to until I moved to New Zealand, since they are a primarily European tradition ( correct me if I’m wrong), they’ve fadded away as a Good Friday food from most American families…however, they still have their place in New Zealand I remember fondly being a part of making them one Good Friday in the Royal Tce. flat as we lounged around as poor university students trying to get by on Easter without our families….and when I came across a recipe for a dried cherry ( as opposed to the annoying raisin version. ew.) version in my recent Martha Stewart Living ( which I scored a free subscription to a few months back from one of the Mommy Blogs I read…sweet.) I decided to give it a go…and…they were a success…now I have all sorts of romantic notions about making them every year and one day telling my children the significance of the cross of icing on the top….*sigh* I’m SO sure it’ll be JUST like that in real life 😉

Dried Cherrie Hot Cross Buns
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons whole milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 ounce (4 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for bowl and baking sheet
Salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
51/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
4 ounces (3/4 cup) dried cherries, coarsely chopped
4 ounces (3/4 cup) golden raisins, coarsely chopped
1 large egg white
1 tablespoon water
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Directions

-Heat 1 cup milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until it registers 110 degrees on a candy thermometer.

OR do what I did, not have milk and so run down to starbucks…order a 8oz whole milk and ask for it to be around 120 degrees so that it’ll be the right temp when you get home…hahaha!

-Pour milk into a mixer bowl, and fit mixer with a dough hook. With mixer on low speed, add granulated sugar, yeast, butter, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, the nutmeg, cinnamon, and eggs. Add flour, 1 cup at a time, and knead until mixture comes together in a soft, sticky dough. Continue kneading, scraping down hook as needed, until dough is smooth, about 4 minutes.

-Add cherries and raisins, and knead to incorporate. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead to distribute dried fruit. Coat a large bowl with butter. Shape dough into a ball, and place in prepared bowl. Cover with a piece of plastic, and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

-Generously butter a rimmed baking sheet. Turn dough onto a surface, knead briefly, then divide into 3 pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time, divide each third into 10 pieces, and shape each into a tight ball. (Keep dough covered with plastic.) Place on prepared sheet, spacing 1/2 inch apart. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover with plastic, and let rise in a warm spot until buns have doubled in size and are touching, about 1 hour.

-Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together egg white and water in a small bowl. Brush tops of buns with egg-white wash. Bake, rotating sheet halfway through, until golden brown, 20 to 22 minutes. Let cool on sheet on wire rack for 30 minutes.
Whisk together remaining 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons milk, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Spoon icing into a pastry bag fitted with a plain 1/4-inch round tip, and pipe icing on buns in the shape of a cross. (Alternatively, spoon glaze on buns.) Serve immediately.

*These buns are best eaten the day they are made; if you make them the day before, don’t pipe the icing across on the tops. Instead, warm the buns the next day in a 300-degree oven, or if you’re lazy like me stick them in the microwave for 15 seconds and then pip them with your icing…

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