CELEBRATING GOOD FRIDAY!
I find the aroma of the hot cross buns baking, is so intoxicating. Brion & I have always loved these soft, spicy little buns. Each year, at Easter time, I really enjoy making some version of Easter bread or buns (of course, trying to make it just a bit better than the year past). While I was giving this some thought, I read a comment where someone was complaining that they had too many hot cross buns leftover from Easter. Is there really such a thing as having too many hot cross buns … seriously!
For me, brunch is never an afterthought, especially on a holiday. I think a decadent French toast made with light and fluffy hot cross bread, in an orange and vanilla scented milk bath, topped with raspberry compote and Greek yogurt is the perfect Easter brunch idea.
While hot cross buns are now sold and enjoyed throughout the year, they were once reserved for Good Friday alone. There is no one clear explanation … some theories rest in Christian symbolism while there are also more than a few stories that indicate hot cross buns were baked on Good Friday for superstitious reasons.
Since I have become a huge fan of Dom Benedictine Liqueur not only as a drink but in sweet & savory recipes, I’m using it in this hot cross bun bread to kick it up one notch higher. I think it will be the perfect choice for an amazing Easter brunch French toast.
Hot Cross Bun French Toast/Buns
Orange Scented Milk bath for French Toast
Hot Cross Bun/Loaf Dough h
Marinate raisins & candied fruit in Benedictine liqueur overnight. Stirring occasionally.
Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup lukewarm water with 1 tsp sugar. Set aside for 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, sift 2 cups of the flour. Stir in yeast mixture & lukewarm milk. Cover with plastic & let stand in a draft free place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour. Punch down firmly & work in beaten eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, lemon zest, vanilla & pieces of softened butter.
Sift remaining 3 1/3 cups of flour with salt, cinnamon & cardamom & work 2 cups in to form a soft dough. Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead in remaining 1 1/3 cup of flour & fruit mixture. This becomes a very soft & buttery dough but is not sticky.
Invert the dough onto a lightly floured work surface & dust with flour. Cut the dough into 2 equal portions.
With the first portion, roll out the dough into a 9x12-inch rectangle. Roll dough up in jelly-roll fashion & place in a 12 x 5-inch cylinder baking pan. With the second piece of dough, cut into 12 pieces & form into balls to make hot cross buns. Place in a 9-inch round baking pan. Brush loaf & buns with egg wash.
Cover both loosely with plastic wrap & allow to rise in a warm, draft-free place until 1 1/2 times the size, about 1-2 hours. Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350 F. & set an oven rack in the middle position.
Gently brush risen dough again with egg wash. Bake 30-35 minutes or until both loaf & buns are a nice golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
Icing for Hot Cross Buns
To pipe a cross on the top of the buns, wait until the buns have cooled. Whisk together the lemon juice & some of the powdered sugar. Keep adding powdered sugar until you get a thick consistency. Place in a plastic sandwich bag. Snip off a small piece from the corner of the bag and use the bag to pipe crosses on buns.
Orange Scented Milk Bath
Heat pan or skillet over medium heat. Mix eggs, milk, vanilla and orange zest in a shallow flat bowl or dish until well combined. Dip the bread in the egg mixture allowing the bread to soak up some of the mixture. Turn the bread and repeat on the other side. Grease preheated pan with butter. Fry toast until golden brown on one side. Flip toast and fry until golden on remaining side. Serve immediately with raspberry syrup.
In a small pot, combine the syrup ingredients. Place over a medium heat & cook for 5-7 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved & the raspberries have become syrupy. Press through a sieve. Serve with French toast along with yogurt if preferred.
- The story of Benedictine dates back to 1510 when a Venetian monk of the Abbey of Fécamp, Dom Bernardo Vincelli, created an elixir intended to support good health. It includes a combination of 27 herbs and spices derived from plants from around the globe, including juniper, myrrh, saffron, vanilla, thyme, coriander and more. The liqueur tastes primarily of honey and baking spices, with citrus peel, herb, and stone fruit notes.