Hot cross buns have never really been my thing. Like watermelon, I force myself to try a bite each and every year hoping the aversion has passed; it never does. My dislike of watermelon begins and ends with a texture issue, but hot cross buns tend to be a candied fruit/raisin problem. So I was super excited when I stumbled across a hot cross bun recipe that omitted the offending ingredients and promised the flavour of maple.
The result is something between a cinnamon bun and a hot cross bun, which is delightful. The texture is lovely and overall they were pretty easy to make. The key is that this recipe calls for a bit of work to be done the night before, so that you have time to enjoy an Easter egg hunt the next morning, instead of slaving away in the kitchen.
Also, while I have you here, do you know the history behind hot cross buns? The internet tells me that the buns mark the end of lent and different parts of the buns have a certain meaning; the cross representing the crucifixion of Jesus and the spices inside signifying the spices used to embalm him at his burial.
1. I used a mix of lemon and orange peel for the 1/4 cup diced citrus peel.
2. I think my buns would have looked nicer if my dough had warmed up to room temp before shaping the balls, the dough was still a little cold and therefore wouldn't form nicely. Next time I might transfer the dough into a room temp bowl, from the fridge, so it has a better chance of warming/rising within the hour it's left to sit.
3. I used maple syrup and powder sugar for the icing.
Overnight Maple Hot Cross Buns
For the Dough
3/4 cup 2% milk
4 1/2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup maple sugar (or raw cane sugar)
1/2 cup canola oil
3 3/4 cups organic all-purpose flour
zest of 1 lemon
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 cup diced citrus peel
For the Glaze
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 Tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Icing
3 tablespoons maple butter
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
For the dough
Heat the milk in a saucepan over low heat until it reaches around 115F. Combine this with the other ingredients - except the citrus peel - in a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment. Mix on low speed until the ingredients come together, then increase the speed by one level and knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. It will be very sticky.
Toward the end of the kneading, add the citrus peel and knead for another 30 seconds. Remove the dough hook, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and place in the fridge overnight.
In the morning, remove the dough from the fridge and let it come to room temperature in a warm place, about an hour. Line a 13x9-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide it into 12 evenly-sized pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and place the rolled buns on the prepared pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the buns rise for 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Uncover the buns and bake for 25-30 minutes, until they are a rich brown on top. While still hot from the oven, prepare the glaze.
For the Glaze
Bring the maple syrup, water, and vanilla up to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Brush this syrup over the still-hot buns, until it has all been absorbed. Let the buns cool completely on the pan on a cooling rack.
For the Icing
Stir the maple butter and powdered sugar together - it will be quite stiff. Scrape the icing into a small piping bag fitted with a small plain tip and pipe crosses on top of each bun. Enjoy at once, with additional maple butter or sweet butter. The buns will keep, well wrapped in plastic, for 1 day.