Hot Cross Buns are traditionally a part of British-South African Easter fare. This year our spicy, fruity hot cross bun dough recipe was used to create an Easter Wreath for a change. The wreath, though not traditional, is large and impressive – a striking centerpiece for the table that can be further decorated with eggs or flowers.
- 4 cups (+ approximately ½ cup) unbleached all purpose flour
- 2 ¼-ounce sachets instant active dry yeast or 4 teaspoons instant active dry yeast
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground allspice
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1½ cups mixed dried fruit, e.g., seedless raisins, golden raisins, cranberries, cherries
- 6 tablespoons (¾ stick) butter
- 1½ cups buttermilk
- 2 eggs
- 3 tablespoons apricot jam
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- oil to grease bowl and hands
- In a large mixing bowl, combine 4 cups of flour with the yeast, sugar, salt, spices and the fruit.
- Scald the buttermilk with the butter and stir until the butter melts.
- Whisk the eggs in a large jug or bowl and slowly add the buttermilk-butter.
- Add this to the dry ingredients and mix to form a moist dough. If necessary, add a little more flour.
- Sprinkle flour onto the counter top and knead the dough until it becomes elastic and shiny. A little oil on your hands will make the dough easier to manipulate.
- Lightly oil the mixing bowl, shape the dough into a round, and place it in the bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and set aside in a warm place for 40-50 minutes, until the dough has doubled in size.
- On the lightly floured counter top, knock the dough down and shape it into an 18-inch rope.
- Place this on a large, lined baking sheet (approximately 18x23 inches). Shape it into a round or oval, and join the two ends.
- Using a pair of kitchen scissors, make diagonal cuts into the wreath from the base, at approximately 2-inch intervals.
- Set aside in a warm place to double in size – 20-30 minutes.
- Bake at 350˚F for 30-40 minutes until done. The loaf will be lightly browned and will sound hollow when tapped.
- While the wreath is baking, prepare the glaze. Combine the 4 ingredients and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Once boiling, turn the setting to simmer and leave for about 5 minutes until the glaze thickens slightly.
- Place the wreath on a cooling rack when it is taken from the oven and paint it with the hot glaze.
- Serve warm with butter.
If active dry yeast is used instead of the instant active dry yeast, dissolve 1 teaspoon of the sugar in ½ cup of the buttermilk, slightly warmed. Stir in 2 ¼-ounce sachets of active dry yeast or 4 teaspoons of active dry yeast and set aside for 10–15 minutes to froth. Add to the dry ingredients, together with the 1 cup of buttermilk, butter and eggs.
A table model food mixer with a dough hook is ideal for kneading yeast products.
This wreath freezes well and can be reheated in the oven or microwave.