Hot Cross Bun, Meet Cream Biscuit

April  2, 2015

Each Thursday, Emily Vikre (a.k.a. fiveandspice) will be sharing a new way to love breakfast—because breakfast isn't just the most important meal of the day. It's also the most awesome.

Today: All the spices of a hot cross bun but all the ease and fantastic texture of cream biscuits.

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I am someone who enjoys baking with yeast. I like the adventure of trying to accommodate to the vagaries and whims of a living organism, one that is influenced by the temperature, humidity, mood, and who knows what else—just as we all are. And while my yeast breads usually turn out pretty good, I have had the worst luck with hot cross buns. The lightly sweet, heavily spiced, cross-bedecked buns show up in the grocery store at this time of year (traditionally they are eaten on Good Friday) and make me think I should bake them myself. Yet every time I wind up with too much clove, too little rise, too much rise, a coarse texture—you name the problem, I’ve had it. It’s like the buns think I have no right to be making them, given my utter lack of British heritage. They say to me: “Stick to making fastelavensboller (the Norwegian version of the cream-stuffed cardamom buns that are served in the Nordic countries on Fat Tuesday).”

Though I’d generally given up on my dream of homemade hot cross buns, this year, as luck would have it, it collided with another thought: cream biscuits. My cream biscuits always work—because they always work for everyone. Much has already been said of the virtues of cream biscuits, so I won’t rehash how stupid easy they are and how they always seem to have fantastic texture, no matter how careless you are as you make them. I’ll just say, even though my mind is too scattered these days to put together a coherent supper, I still manage to bake a lot of cream biscuits because they allow me to feel like I’m providing for my family, giving them something cozy. I quarter the recipe for a dozen biscuits, which gives me the perfect number of biscuits for our little family of three, and we are all happy.

In the past couple weeks, it finally occurred to me: Not only could I make cream biscuits, I could stir things into them and make chocolate biscuits, cheesy biscuits, fruit studded biscuits, and so on. From there, it took no leap at all to have a go with ground cinnamon, cloves, citrus zest, and raisins to create a treat with all the flavor of a hot cross bun but all the ease and texture of cream biscuits. A cross made of lemony icing even makes them look the part.

These might not be a substitute for real hot cross buns, but given my history, they might just be better. 

Hot Cross Biscuits

Makes 10 to 12 biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice or cloves
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 to 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon orange zest (or use more lemon zest instead)
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons lemon juice

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Emily Vikre

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I like to say I'm a lazy iron chef (I just cook with what I have around), renegade nutritionist, food policy wonk, and inveterate butter and cream enthusiast! My husband and I own a craft distillery in Northern Minnesota called Vikre Distillery (, where I claimed the title, "arbiter of taste." I also have a doctorate in food policy, for which I studied the changes in diet and health of new immigrants after they come to the United States. I myself am a Norwegian-American dual citizen. So I have a lot of Scandinavian pride, which especially shines through in my cooking on special holidays. Beyond loving all facets of food, I'm a Renaissance woman (translation: bad at focusing), dabbling in a variety of artistic and scientific endeavors.