These Hot Cross Buns are so delicious you will want to eat them straight out of the oven. (And besides, who wants “cold” cross buns anyway?
We’ve called these Hot Cross Buns “Pennsylvania Dutch Style” because they’re based on a very old recipe for Pennsylvania Dutch Strickle Sheets. Strickle sheets are an old-fashioned kind of sweet bun. We only happened to wind up using this recipe because we couldn’t find our regular recipe for hot cross buns!
Anyway, the strickle sheet recipe turns out to be a nice way to make hot cross buns. These sweet buns have a buttery-sugary glaze on top. Once they’re baked, it turns into a sweet and crispy “crust” on top of the bun. Then you drizzle on a little bit of simple powdered sugar and – voila! – perfect hot cross buns.
Hot Cross Buns
These delicious hot cross buns are based on an old Pennsylvania Dutch recipe for "strickle sheets" or sweet buns with a sugary glaze on top.
- 5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 packages active dry yeast (equivalent to 4 1/2 teaspoons)
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup water
- 3 tbsp butter or margarine
- 2 eggs (at room temperature)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 3 tbsp butter or margarine
- 2 tbsp hot water
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp water
In a large bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup sugar, salt, and undissolved yeast. Next, in a small saucepan, combine the milk, 1/4 cup water, and 3 tbsp. butter or margarine. Heat over low heat until very warm (120-130 degrees F). Gradually add the liquid to the dry ingredients and beat for two minutes with an electric mixer, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add eggs and 1 more cup flour, beating for two more minutes. Stir in enough flour (1 1/2 to 2 cups) to make a soft dough.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic; about 8 to 10 minutes. Place the dough in a large greased bowl, turning it so all sides are greased. Cover with a towel and let it rest in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
Punch the dough down, and place it on a lightly floured board. Cut the dough into three sections. Roll each section out into an 8-inch by 8-inch square. Cut each square into 16 pieces. Place the squares, side by side, into 3 8x8-inch greased pans.
Combine the 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tbsp. flour, and softened butter or margarine. Add the hot water and mix thoroughly (it will look like a stiff frosting). Spread the mixture evenly over all three pans of buns. Cover the pans and let the buns rise in a warm place for one hour or until doubled in bulk.
(Optional: Score the buns lightly along the lines where you will be drawing the "cross" - this will let the buns split just slightly so when you bake them you will see the line.) Bake at 400 degrees F. for 25 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool for 5-10 minutes in the pan.
Mix together the powdered sugar and water. It should feel like a stiff icing. Scoop the icing into a pastry bag or even a plastic bag with the corner snipped off to make a tiny opening. Squeeze out the icing to make four lines vertically, then four lines horizontally so that each of the 16 buns in each pan has a "cross" in it. Serve immediately.
The Pennsylvania Dutch Strickle Sheets recipe is from an old favorite cookbook of ours; the Fleischmann’s Bake-it-Easy Yeast book, circa 1984. It sounds old but there are a lot of great bread recipes in there that are just as delicious as they were “back then.”
In fact, it’s almost a good thing that we couldn’t find our hot cross buns recipe because these buns are so light and fluffy we were glad for the chance to make them again. And the crispy sugar layer on top is the perfect topping to go with just a drizzle of powdered sugar icing.
Don’t be intimidated by the yeast dough. It’s very simple to put together and the only thing that takes up time is waiting for it to rise (twice).
Also, you’re going to love this sugary frosting that gets baked into a “crackle” layer on top of the buns. Feel free to spread it on thickly because it will just melt into the buns.
One last note – don’t be alarmed if the individual “squares” seem too small or too flat. They will rise up and puff out when they’re baked. However, they are a little on the small side, so feel free to help yourself to a second, or a third, or…
Like baking with yeast dough? Try our Braided Tomato Bread Wreath!