Hop into Easter with a batch of warmly-spiced and perfectly-sweetened Belizean Hot Cross Buns! These yeast-based sweet buns filled with spices and raisins are a traditional Easter delicacy. Above ‘Peeps’ and all else, they’re the one thing that stands out as the food of the season. This year, Easter is going to look differently – there’s no doubt about that – but it doesn’t mean we can’t try our best to keep certain traditions going.
Rich in flavor and history, these buns date back to the 12th century with numerous theories on how they originated. Widely enjoyed worldwide, Hot Cross Buns gets its name from their signature cross, baked right on top of the dough or etched with icing. They’re soft, yet a little dense with a deliciously spiced flavor from cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. However, you can play with the spices, even adding a little cardamom too. My (optional) secret ingredient? Pineapple essence brings brightness and an untraceable tropical touch. The buns are sweetened mostly with brown sugar, giving that deep golden color. They’re also then topped with an additional brown sugar simple syrup glaze.
Enjoy traditional Belizean Hot Cross Buns this Easter
Typically eaten on Good Friday, start your Easter weekend off with this recipe of homemade Belizean Hot Cross Buns! Belizeans tend to fast from meat on Good Friday. However, the tradition of eating it on this day dates to the reign of Elizabeth I who forbid eating these buns except on Good Friday, Christmas, and at burials. This Belizean version showcases a soft, chewy bread with a dough cross baked right in, so you can — and should — eat them while hot. Slather on a swipe of butter and tuck into this traditional recipe for homemade Hot Cross Buns at home — whether in Belize or not. P.S. ditch the cross on top for a typical Belizean bun recipe.
- 4 cups All-Purpose Flour
- ⅔ cup Brown Sugar
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 ½ tsp freshly Ground Nutmeg
- 1 tsp Allspice
- 3 tsp Ground Cinnamon
- 2 pkg (¼ oz) or (4 ½ tsp) Active Dry Yeast
- 10 tbs Butter, or Shortening, softened at room temperature
- 2 Eggs, beaten
- 3 tsp Vanilla extract
- 1 tsp Pineapple Essence (optional)
- ⅔ cup Coconut Milk, warm
- 1 cup Raisins
In a bowl, stir all dry ingredients until well combined, including the yeast. Add the softened butter and using your hands or a pastry-cutter, mix with dry ingredients until the butter pieces are pea-sized and the texture resembles wet sand. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, vanilla, and half of the warmed coconut milk until well incorporated. Reserve the remaining half of the warmed coconut milk on the side. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well, until the flour is combined. Add the remaining wet ingredients, little-by-little, until the dough is homogenous, without sticking to your hands or the bowl. If kneading by hand, the dough should come together in about 5 minutes as smooth, glossy, and slightly elastic. Here, we add the raisins and knead just until they are well distributed.
Oil the dough slightly with a neutral-flavored oil and let rest; the oil is done to prevent a dry 'crust'. Cover with plastic wrap, or a kitchen towel, and place in a warm place for 2 hours, of when doubled in size. After, roll the dough into a log and cut into 12 even-sized portion. Preheat your oven to 350F. From each sectioned portion, pinch about 1 tbsp of dough and roll thin to be used as the signature 'cross' decoration. Ensure that, when placing on top the bun, the end pieces of each 'cross' is tucked under the bun itself. Place on a lined or greased baking pan about 2 inches apart. Cover with a kitchen towel and leave in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
When ready to bake, brush the tops with egg wash (1 egg + 1 tbsp milk beaten well) and bake until golden brown. Once removed, brush warm buns liberally with brown sugar simple syrup glaze and serve! Enjoy sliced with butter, cheese, or on it's own.
Recipe courtesy Carolee Chanona.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on April 8, 2020.