Cherry Orange Hot Cross Buns


There are very few things that beat the taste of a warm, traditional hot cross bun, especially on Easter morning! This is a perfect recipe for your Easter brunch, served alongside mimosas and coffee. This recipe includes all the traditional hot cross buns flavors, with a few surprises! Dried cherries replace raisins, orange zest brightens up the spices, and orange icing completes these rolls for a delicious Easter treat.


We have two small dogs, and one small toddler in our house, so raisins (which are very toxic to dogs), are off the the table as it were. And the cherries in these rolls turned out to be my very favorite part! Cherries are a little lighter and brighter than raisins, which I love. Soaked overnight in brandy, they are bursting with delicious flavor! Please note: all the alcohol is completely cooked out of these rolls.






Buns Ingredients: 

1/4 cup brand, rum or apple juice
1 cup dried cherries (double check that there are no pits)
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
4 1/2-5 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups warm milk
1 package yeast
2 eggs, plus 1 yolk
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 orange, zested

Icing Ingredients: 

1 cup powdered sugar
4 teaspoons fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions: 

Combine the dried cherries and brandy in a small bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the cherries to soak 12 hours, or preferably overnight.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, brown sugar through flour, and set aside. In your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, dissolve the yeast into the warm milk. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit 3-5 minutes or until it starts to foam. Add the eggs (reserving the one extra yolk), butter and extract, mixing until combined. Add the flour mixture in three batches, mixing until just combined each time. Stir in the cherries and orange zest.

The dough should be soft and a little sticky, but not so sticky that it's sticking to the sides of the stand mixer bowl. Add extra flour, a tablespoon at a time if this is the case. If the dough can be formed into a ball and doesn't stick to your hands, it's done.

Knead the dough lightly, either with your hands on a floured surface, or in your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook on medium speed for about 2 minutes.

Grease a large mixing bowl liberally with melted butter. Set the ball of dough into the bowl, turning once so the top is also greased. Cover with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size. I always turn my oven on to the lowest temperature (for my oven that's 170 F), and once it's preheated I turn it off. Then I let the dough sit in the warmed (but off!) oven.

When the dough has risen, punch it down to release any air bubbles that have formed. Grease two baking dishes. Divide the dough into 14-16 balls, pinching the bottoms so they stay moist while baking. Cover, and let rise again for 30-45 minutes or until doubled in size.

Now for baking! Preheat the oven to 350 F. Combine the extra egg yolk with a teaspoon of water. With a pastry brush, brush the rolls with the egg wash. Then bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, or until the rolls are golden brown.

While the rolls cool, prepare the icing. Combine the powdered sugar, vanilla extract and orange juice in a small bowl, whisking with a fork until smooth. If it's too thick, add more orange juice a teaspoon at a time. Transfer to a pastry bag (no need for a tip), and pipe the icing in a cross over each cooled roll. Serve immediately!

Cover leftover rolls tightly, and store on the counter for 1-2 days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week. 

Yeasty breads always have lots of steps, but that doesn't mean they're more difficult. These rolls are actually incredibly easy to make! While the bread is rising, you can do other things around the house, run errands - whatever! And when you come home the house will smell like delicious homemade bread. Believe me - soooooo yummy!!


My favorite little taste tester approves!


Kirsten Bell
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