Easter is still some time away, and I’m already obsessing over hot cross buns, the buttery, sweetly spiced rolls studded with dried fruit. All year I look forward to Sunset’s pull-out-the-stops orange version, made with fresh and homemade candied orange peel. But this year, there’s no time to candy the peel. So I’m making a shortcut version with marmalade. Check it out. The test batch is already gone.
Start by heating an 18-oz. jar of marmalade until bubbling, then strain it.
Fresh orange zest, cinnamon, and freshly grated nutmeg flavor the dough too.
Knead the dough until stretchy, using a mixer and a dough hook, then add the marmalade peel and some currants and knead by hand until they're incorporated.
Let the dough rise in a warm spot until it's doubled. You can tell it's ready when you poke your index finger into it and the dough in the hole doesn't pouf back out.
This dough is pretty soft. You're going to want some flour on your hands and on the board to shape it into 16 balls. You can put them in a 9- by 13-in. pan or 2 (8-in.) square pans.
Let the dough rise again until it looks puffy.
Pop 'em in the oven, let them cool at least half an hour, then pipe an X of citrus frosting onto each one. I use a sturdy plastic bag with the tip cut off. Enjoy!
Orange Hot Cross Buns
MAKES 16 / 3 1/2 HOURS
Here’s the recipe using the short-cut with orange marmalade instead of candied orange peel.
1 jar (18 oz.) thick-cut orange marmalade
3/4 cup warm (100° to 110°) whole milk
4 1/2 tsp. (2 packages) active dry yeast
1 large egg plus 2 tbsp. beaten egg
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Zest of 1 large orange
About 3 1/4 cups flour, divided
1/4 cup dried currants
2 tsp. each fresh orange juice and lemon juice
1 cup powdered sugar
- Heat marmalade in a saucepan until bubbling, then strain well. Set aside peel and strained jam.
- In a bowl of a stand mixer, combine milk and yeast; let stand until yeast softens, about 10 minutes. Add whole egg, 1/4 cup strained jam, butter, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and orange zest. Beat on medium speed with dough hook until blended. (Save remaining strained jam for other uses, like topping pancakes.)
- Blend in 3 cups flour. Beat on medium speed until dough is smooth and stretchy, 10 to 12 minutes. Add just enough flour (about 1/4 cup) so dough is only slightly tacky. Add orange peel and currants, pick up dough, and mix with your hands to distribute fruit. Return dough to bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/4 hours.
- Punch down dough. Working on a floured board with floured hands, shape dough into 16 smooth rounds. Evenly space rounds in a buttered 9- by 13-in. baking dish or 2 buttered 8- or 9-in. square pans.
- Cover loosely and let rise in a warm place until doubled and puffy, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°. Brush buns with beaten egg. Bake until deep golden, 13 to 15 minutes. Let cool in pans at least 30 minutes.
- In a small bowl, stir together orange and lemon juices and powdered sugar until smooth. Spoon into a heavy-gauge plastic bag, snip a hole in a corner, and squeeze icing onto buns to form large Xs.