When you’re done with the egg hunt, the Easter bonnet has been pulled off and tossed aside, when churching and snapping pictures are past, and you’re ready for a buttery breakfast roll or something sweet next to your slice of ham, make these. They are a bit on the time intensive side, but nearly all of the labor is done a day in advance, so that all you need to do on Easter morning is roll the buns and bake them. These hot cross buns look a bit more like mini baps than conventional buns, but they are sweet and buttery, with a little pop from the boozy, plump currants and a sweet crisscross of rum and orange liqueur-laced icing. Smear them with a little dark rum brown sugar butter.
Boozy Hot Cross Buns with Rum Brown Sugar Butter
Yield: a dozen buns
3 T. orange juice
1 ½ T. orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier
½ c. dark rum
¾ c. currants (or raisins if you can’t find them)
2 packages (5 ½ t.) active dry yeast
¾ c. whole milk, warmed until it is tepid
1 ½ c. all purpose flour (I prefer King Arthur.)
1/3 c. sugar
½ t. ground ginger
½ t. ground cinnamon
½ t. freshly grated nutmeg
2 T. of the fruit soaking liquid (rum, orange liqueur, and orange juice)
1 T. vanilla extract
very finely grated zest of one orange
½ t. salt
1 ½ c. bread flour
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
½ c. confectioners’ sugar
1 T. orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier
1 T. dark rum
¼ c. dark rum
6 T. butter
¼ c. brown sugar
One day Ahead:
- In a small pan, or in the microwave, warm the orange juice, orange liqueur, dark rum, and currants. When the liquid comes to a simmer, turn off the heat and allow the currants to soak and plump until they are needed in the recipe. The currants will absorb nearly all of the liquid.
- In a small pan, or in the microwave, warm the milk until it is just above body temperature.
- Add the yeast and stir briefly. Set the yeast and milk aside and allow it to bloom. It will be foamy in appearance if the yeast has activated properly.
- In a large bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer, mix together the all purpose flour, sugar, and spices.
- Add the milk and yeast and mix on low speed until combined. Scrape the dough into a ball and cover the bowl. Place it in a warm place to rise until it is doubled in size, about 1 ½ hours.
- Mix in the eggs, fruit soaking liquid, and vanilla.
- Mix in the bread flour and salt on low speed.
- Knead the dough until it is silky smooth, about 10 minutes, either by hand or with the dough hook of an electric mixer.
- Add the butter and knead until it is fully incorporated. Be patient, it will all be incorporated with time.
- Drain any remaining liquid from the currants over a small bowl, reserving the liquid if you wish, and knead them into the dough.
- Place the bowl in a warm place and allow the dough to rise until nearly doubled in size, about one hour.
- Cover the bowl with cellophane and chill it in the refrigerator overnight, or for a minimum of 30 minutes. I find it’s easiest to chill the dough overnight and to bake the buns the next morning.
- You may make the rum brown sugar butter one and the icing one day ahead, as well, if you wish. See below.
On the Day:
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and shape the dough into 12 balls. Place them on a buttered baking sheet, spaced evenly.
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
- Cover the sheet of buns and place it in a warm place. Allow the the buns to rise until not quite doubled in size, about one hour.
- Bake the buns for 12 to 16 minutes, or until they are golden brown and sound a bit hollow when tapped.
- Allow them to cool completely.
- Meanwhile, mix the confectioners’ sugar, the orange liqueur, and the rum until it is a smooth icing.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and brown sugar. Stir in the dark rum. Simmer until it is reduced and syrupy.
- Refrigerate the rum brown sugar butter until serving time.
- When the buns are cool, pipe two crisscrossing stripes of icing across the top of each bun. (In a pinch, they can be drizzled with the icing while still warm.) Serve with the rum brown sugar butter.