Spring Equinox Hot Cross Buns Recipe

Not going to lie: hot cross buns are one of my all time favorite spring treats. Which is why I’m rebooting a post from my old blog with the recipe I use every March to make yummy, spiced buns for Ostara! Hot cross buns tend to be tied up with a lot of Christian and Easter symbolism. However, it is generally accepted in the pagan community that the eponymous cross of dough on top of the buns represents not the Christian cross but rather the balance between light and dark that occurs at the spring equinox.
 
 

Spring Equinox Hot Cross Buns

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm milk 105°–115°F.
  • Two 1/4-ounce packages 5 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 sticks 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  • Zest of one lemon finely grated
  • Zest of half an orange finely grated
  • 3 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup ice water

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl stir together milk, yeast, and 1 teaspoon granulated sugar. Let mixture stand 5 minutes, or until foamy.
  2. Into a large bowl sift together flour, allspice, cinnamon, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Cut butter into bits and with your fingertips or a pastry blender blend into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse meal. Lightly beat 1 whole egg with egg yolk. Make a well in center of flour mixture and pour in yeast and egg mixtures, raisins, and zests. Stir mixture until a dough is formed. Transfer dough to a floured surface and with floured hands knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Transfer dough to an oiled large bowl and turn to coat. Let dough rise, covered with plastic wrap, in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
  3. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  4. On a floured surface with floured hands knead dough briefly and form into two 12-inch-long logs. Cut each log crosswise into 12 equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball and arrange about 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheets. Let buns rise, covered, in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  6. While buns are rising, lightly beat remaining egg with superfine sugar to make an egg glaze. Mix remaining flour, sugar and salt until combined. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender. Slowly sprinkle in ice water until a smooth dough is formed. On a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin roll out pastry dough into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Slice into strips.
  7. Brush buns with egg glaze and arrange 2 pastry strips over center of each bun to form a cross (dab a bit of egg glaze between strips so they stick together. Brush strips with egg glaze. Bake buns in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until golden, about 12 minutes. Transfer buns to a rack to cool slightly.

Recipe Notes

(adapted from Epicurious and Joy of Cooking)

At the equinox, day and night are each precisely the same length, taking up exactly half of our 24 hour day. Because the arms of the cross on these buns are of equal length, they represent the balance that occurs on that special day. The spring equinox is also known as Ostara, 

a pagan precursor to Easter, which is where we get all of the fertility imagery associated with secular Easter celebrations, including bunnies and decorated eggs. Imbolc was the harbinger of spring but Ostara is the heart of spring. The world is in bloom and the days are getting longer!

Spring Equinox Hot Cross Buns

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm milk 105°–115°F.
  • Two 1/4-ounce packages 5 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 sticks 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  • Zest of one lemon finely grated
  • Zest of half an orange finely grated
  • 3 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup ice water

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl stir together milk, yeast, and 1 teaspoon granulated sugar. Let mixture stand 5 minutes, or until foamy.
  2. Into a large bowl sift together flour, allspice, cinnamon, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Cut butter into bits and with your fingertips or a pastry blender blend into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse meal. Lightly beat 1 whole egg with egg yolk. Make a well in center of flour mixture and pour in yeast and egg mixtures, raisins, and zests. Stir mixture until a dough is formed. Transfer dough to a floured surface and with floured hands knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Transfer dough to an oiled large bowl and turn to coat. Let dough rise, covered with plastic wrap, in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
  3. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  4. On a floured surface with floured hands knead dough briefly and form into two 12-inch-long logs. Cut each log crosswise into 12 equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball and arrange about 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheets. Let buns rise, covered, in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  6. While buns are rising, lightly beat remaining egg with superfine sugar to make an egg glaze. Mix remaining flour, sugar and salt until combined. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender. Slowly sprinkle in ice water until a smooth dough is formed. On a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin roll out pastry dough into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Slice into strips.
  7. Brush buns with egg glaze and arrange 2 pastry strips over center of each bun to form a cross (dab a bit of egg glaze between strips so they stick together. Brush strips with egg glaze. Bake buns in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until golden, about 12 minutes. Transfer buns to a rack to cool slightly.

Recipe Notes

(adapted from Epicurious and Joy of Cooking)

What special recipes do you make for Ostara or the spring equinox?

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