A Springtime Tradition
Hot cross buns are often served for breakfast on Good Friday, but these soft, gently spiced rolls are a welcome addition to any bread basket.
Step 1: Prepare the Dairy
Melt 3 ounces unsalted butter (6 tablespoons; 85g) in a saucepan over medium-low heat, then stir in 3 ounces milk (1/3 cup; 85g) and 6 ounces plain Greek yogurt (2/3 cup; 170g).
Step 2: Scrape the Bean
Split a vanilla bean lengthwise (I find it easier to start from the middle) and scrape out the seeds.
Step 3: Make the Dough
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine vanilla seeds with 2 1/2 ounces sugar (rounded 1/3 cup; 70g), then whisk in 2 1/4 teaspoons (8g) instant dry yeast (not RapidRise); 1 teaspoon (4g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt (for table salt, use the same weight or half as much by volume); and 12 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 1/3 cups; 340g). Add the warm dairy and stir to form a dry and shaggy dough.
Step 4: Kneading
With a hook attachment, mix on low until a sticky ball has formed, about 1 minute. Continue kneading until the dough begins to climb the hook, about 6 minutes more.
Step 5: Preparing the Fruit
Meanwhile, cut 1 ounce candied orange peel (2 tablespoons; 30g); 2 ounces dried apricots (1/4 cup; 55g); and 2 ounces dried cherries (1/3 cup; 55g) into 1/4-inch pieces.
Step 6: Developing the Gluten
Increase speed to medium-low and continue kneading until dough is pliable and elastic enough to stretch relatively thin before it begins to tear, about 10 minutes more.
If the dough is sticky and easily torn, continue kneading a few minutes more.
Step 7: Finishing the Dough
Reduce speed to low and add 1/2 teaspoon (1g) ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander, 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice, and 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg, along with prepared fruit. Mix only until well combined, about 1 minute. Remove hook, shape dough into a ball, and cover with plastic.
Step 8: Proofing
Let the dough rise until puffy and light, about 1 1/2 hours at room temperature. When the dough is ready, it will be soft enough to retain an impression when gently pressed.
Step 9: Shaping
Turn dough onto a clean, unfloured surface and divide into 15 roughly equal pieces, about 2 ounces (55g) each. Cup each portion beneath your palm and work in quick, circular motions to form a smooth ball. Arrange in a parchment-lined 9- by 13-inch aluminum baking pan and cover with plastic. Let the dough rise until each portion feels puffy and light for its size, able to retain a shallow impression when gently pressed, about 1 1/2 hours total.
Step 10: Finishing Touches
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 350°F (180°C). Brush the buns with 1 large egg yolk mixed with 1 1/2 teaspoons heavy cream (1/4 ounce; 7ml). With a sharp knife or razor, score each bun to form a cross. Bake until buns are golden brown and approximately 210°F (99°C) inside, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool directly in pan until crumb is set, about 20 minutes.
To Frost, or Not to Frost
If you like, finish the hot cross buns with a frosting made from 4 ounces powdered sugar (about 1 cup; 115g), 1 tablespoon heavy cream (1/2 ounce; 15ml), 1/2 teaspoon (2.5ml) vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt, stirred together until smooth and creamy.
Get 'em While They're Hot
As their name suggests, hot cross buns are best fresh and warm, though leftovers are pretty nice when toasted and buttered...