Speedy Hot Cross Cinnamon Rolls

Hot cross buns turned cinnamon rolls in a speedy recipe that can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight to bake for warm buns on Easter morning. Instant yeast eliminates one rise to make them less intimidating.
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I am very excited about Easter this year because my sister Katie and her husband are coming to visit. They just moved to Calgary, which is much closer to us in Vancouver than New Brunswick, where they lived before.

The only thing I don't like about Vancouver is our lack of family here. I have many friends who feel like family, and for that I am so grateful. But I really miss my sister. So I am very, very happy she's coming to chill with me on my sofa (with my babies climbing all over her) for the long weekend. 

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I'd get so excited for Easter when I was a kid. I remember doing practice runs for the egg hunt, taking turns with Katie to play the Easter bunny and hide toys (stand-ins for eggs) all over the house.  We'd always get a pair of new summer shoes, usually a summer hat, and some outdoor toys like bubbles, jump ropes, or maybe even a bicycle. 

I'd lace up my brand-new canvas sneakers and rush out to the still-semi-frozen driveway to play with my toys, hear skipping. I can remember the feeling of snow and ice through the thin soles of my summer footwear and the chilly breeze on my exposed ankles, temporarily released from their stifling winter boots. 

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Even as a teenager I found it hard to sleep on Easter eve. Oh, who am I kidding. I still do. 

I had this brilliant idea to cinnamon roll my hot crossed buns a couple of weeks ago and they were so good. I don't know why more people don't do this. It's a match made in heaven. The orange zest, currants, raisins and spices of a hot cross bun with a thick swirl of gooey cinnamon filling and a cross drizzled in glaze on top (or you could go for a hearty slather of cream cheese frosting).

Hot cross buns turned cinnamon rolls in a speedy recipe that can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight to bake for warm buns on Easter morning. Instant yeast eliminates one rise to make them less intimidating. You can also make the dough the night before, perfect for Easter breakfast (details in recipe).
  • Duration
  • Cook Time
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  • 16Servings

Ingredients

  • 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp instant (quick-rise) yeast
  • 1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp finely grated orange zest
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup dried currants (or cranberries, OR just more raisins)

For filling

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon

For icing

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preparation

Add flour, sugar, yeast, salt and spices to the bowl of a stand mixer and combine on low speed.  Heat milk and butter to 130ºF in the microwave or on the stovetop. Gradually whisk the eggs into the hot milk, then add it all to the flour mixture and beat on low until dough comes together.  Add zest, raisins, currants, then switch to dough hook and knead until smooth and elastic, about 7 minutes.  Cover and let rest 10 minutes.  

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured counter and roll out into a big rectangle of about 48x22". Spread with the butter, then sprinkle with the brown sugar and cinnamon.  Starting at the long side closest to you, roll the dough into a log (using a bench scraper or metal spatula to help lift the dough if needed). Place seam-side down and slice into 16 equal pieces. 

Arrange cinnamon buns in a parchment-lined 9x13" glass baking dish. Cover with a clean towel and allow buns to rise for 1 hour (or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, removing them from the fridge one hour to come to room temperature before baking). 

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Bake on lowest oven rack for 30 minutes, until tops are deep golden brown. As tops do brown quickly, to be sure of doneness, take the temperature - the centre should read 190ºF. Otherwise, pull out the centre roll using a fork to make sure it's no longer sticky and raw. 

Whisk together the icing ingredients and drizzle over buns (if you want to make nice crosses on them, you'll have to wait until they cool!)