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Nantucket Hot Cross Buns



  • 1/2 C water
  • 1/2 C whole milk
  • 1/2 C sugar
  •  4 1/2 tsp active dry yeast (2 (1/4 ounce) packages)
  • 1/3 C unsalted butter, melted, plus as needed (measure the butter first, then melt it!)
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 C King Arthur all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp fine salt
  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 C dried cranberries, plumped in the hot water for thirty minutes, drained and cooled
  • 1 egg beaten, brushed on just before baking

For the icing

  • 2 C confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 2 tbsp cranberry juice
  • 1/4 tsp finely grated orange zest
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract


For the dough

  1. Combine the water and milk and warm over low heat until about 100 degrees F (but no more than 110 degrees).
  2. Remove from heat and sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of sugar and flour over the surface of the liquid.
  3. Set aside without stirring, about 30 minutes.
  4. Whisk  butter, egg yolk and vanilla into the yeast mixture.
  5. Whisk the flour, the remaining sugar, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger in a large bowl.
  6. Make a well in the center of the flour and stir in the yeast mixture with a wooden spoon to make a thick, shaggy, and slightly sticky dough.
  7. Stir in the plumped cranberries.
  8. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until soft and elastic, about 8 minutes. Shape into a ball.
  9. Brush the inside of a large bowl with butter.
  10. Put dough in bowl, turning to coat lightly with butter.
  11. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour 30 minutes. (If you have a marker, trace a circle the size of the dough on the plastic, and note the time to help you keep track.)

To form the rolls 

  1. Butter a 9 by 14-inch baking pan.
  2. Turn the dough out of the bowl, divide in half, and roll each half into a log. Cut each log in half, then into thirds. 
  3. Tuck the edges of the dough under to make round rolls and place them seam-side down in the prepared pan, leaving a little space in between each roll.
  4. Cover the pan with plastic wrap. I spray my plastic wrap with a pan spray, or paint with a bit of oil or melted butter. This prevents it from sticking to the dough. 
  5. Set aside in a warm place until the rolls rise almost to the rim of the pan and have more than doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  7. Remove the plastic wrap and brush the tops of the buns with beaten egg. Bake rolls until golden brown.
  8. Let your buns cool before you glaze them.

For the glaze 

  1. Stir together confectioners' sugar, milk, orange zest and vanilla until smooth.
  2. Transfer icing to a zip bag or and make a small cut in the corner of the bag.
  3. Ice buns in a thick cross shape over the top of your buns.

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