The closest I’ve ever came to a hot cross bun while growing up was reciting the nursery rhyme, “Hot cross buns, hot cross buns, one a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns”. I never actually knew what a hot cross bun was. I grew up in a cornfield in Indiana, after all, so I didn’t know very much of the world!
Later on, I came to realize that a hot cross bun is a sweet, golden bun speckled with raisins and marked with a cross on top, and sold at Easter time. The cross is supposed to symbolize the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Or at least that’s what Wikipedia tells me about hot cross buns.
Whatever the original meaning of hot cross buns, it is obvious that they have evolved over the years. Hot cross buns can now be found studded with chocolate chips instead of dried fruits, and I recently even tasted a mocha-flavored hot cross bun.
Yeast, of course, is used to make these buns and for this reason I have been put off of ever making them myself. It seems quite a few of us are a little nervous when it comes to baking with yeast. I can’t quite explain it, but it just sounds scary. If a recipe calls for yeast, I skip over it, never to look at it again! One of these days I will face my fears, because I’d really like to make some good old-fashioned cinnamon rolls.
In the latest issue of delicious. magazine, April 2010, there is a recipe for hot cross muffins, or faux hot cross buns, if you will. Being a muffin recipe, you know that they will not be using yeast. I had a look over the recipe and decided I’d try these out. However, I’d be replacing the dried fruit with, you guessed it, chocolate chips. Hey, this is The Sweetest Kitchen, isn’t it!?
The resulting muffin looks like a close relative of the traditional hot cross bun, tastes similar, but of course, lacks the original texture of the hot cross bun which is provided by the yeast. The cross is made with a simple, thick confectioners’ sugar glaze. This is a dense, yet moist, muffin that tastes great warmed up with a cup of coffee for breakfast. It’s super easy to whip up for quick treats during this long Easter weekend.
- 135g chocolate chips
- 2½ cups (375g) self-raising flour
- ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅔ cup (165ml) sunflower oil
- 1 cup (250ml) buttermilk
- 2 eggs
- 200g caster sugar, plus extra 2 tbs
- 80g icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 200°C. Grease a 12-hole muffin tray and line with paper cases.
- Sift the flour, soda and spices into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, eggs and sugar until combined. Add to the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
- Gently stir in the chocolate chips. Divide the mixture among muffin cases, then bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.
- Meanwhile, place the extra 2 tbs sugar in a pan with 2 tbs water and simmer over low heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Brush the glaze over the muffins.
- Sift icing sugar into a bowl. Add lemon juice and just enough hot water to make a thick, pipable icing. Use a piping bag or drizzle from a spoon to draw a cross on each muffin, then serve.