Buttery brioche loaded with moist dried fruits, glazed with honey, and topped with an orange icing. —Betty Hung
Test Kitchen Notes
WHO: Betty Hung is an avid baker living in Vancouver.
WHAT: The hot cross buns you know and love—but butterier!
HOW: Make a buttery brioche dough studded with dried fruits—then form into buns, bake all together in one pan, and glaze with sweet icing.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Subtract the heavy spices and density of hot cross buns and replace them with vanilla-scented dried fruit, light and airy brioche, and bright orange zest—and you've got these, which pull the traditional Easter treat somewhere into the realm of French baking. —The Editors
10 brioche pans (sized 3 inches / 7.5 cm in diameter and 1 inch / 2.5 cm high; or 12 buns, baked in a 9" x 13" cake pan
Dried Fruits Mix + Honey Glaze
candied orange peel, good quality or homemade
clear honey (for the glaze)
hot water (for the glaze)
Brioche Dough + Orange Icing
all purpose flour
eggs, (cold and just taken out of the fridge)
Dried Fruits Mix: Roughly chop all the dried fruits, place them in a small bowl, add the hot water and vanilla extract, and set aside while you prepare the dough.
Glaze: Mix the honey and hot water in a small bowl to dissolve, set aside until the buns are baked.
Brioche Dough + Orange Icing
Combine all dry ingredients in a mixer bowl.
Whisk together eggs and milk in a small bowl, and add to the dry ingredients.
Start the mixer on low speed with a dough hook to mix the dough until it comes away from the side of the bowl, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Add in butter by the tablespoon, mixing a little after each addition until all the butter has been incorporated. Finally, add the dried fruits mix and mix thoroughly until the fruits have been distributed evenly.
Cover the mixing bowl and let the dough rise until it doubles in size, punch down and place it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight. *It is important to work with the dough while it is cold; otherwise, it will be too soft and difficult to shape.
Prepare a 9-X-13-inch pan by brushing the bottom and sides heavily with butter: It makes the buns brown nicely and prevents them from sticking.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured working surface. Portion it into portions that are 80 to 82 g each, giving you 12 buns.
Flour the dough lightly to prevent it from sticking. Form the portions into balls by cupping your hand gently over the dough and moving the dough in a circular motion.
Arrange the dough into 3 rows of 4 balls in the prepared pan.
Cover lightly with plastic and let it rise in a warm place for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until it doubles in volume and the sides of the buns are slightly sticking to each other. When almost ready to bake, preheat oven to 425° F.
Lightly brush the tops of the buns with egg wash. Bake for about 10 minutes, then lower heat to 375° F and bake another 10 to 15 minutes, until the tops become a rich golden color. While the buns are still hot out of the oven, brush the tops generously with the honey glaze, until all the glaze has been used up.
Icing: Mix icing sugar, water, and orange zest, adjusting the consistency if necessary. If too runny, add a little icing sugar; if too tight, add a little more water to make it a piping consistency. Place icing into a small piping bag (or a plastic baggie) until ready to use.
Cool buns completely before finishing. Snip the tip of the piping bag to the thickness you like, pipe a line across the middle each row and column of the buns to create the signature "hot cross buns" pattern. Serve!
The buns are great fresh and will keep up to 2 days in an airtight container. You can also refresh them in a 300° F oven if you'd like them warm. Enjoy!