Hot Cross Doughnuts
With Easter just a few days away, I’ve been reminded of a traditional treat, hot cross buns. These spiced buns, often made with currants or raisins, are then marked with a cross of white icing, to represent the crucifixion of Jesus. I like them just as they are, but sometimes it’s fun to play around with an idea, which is what led to these Hot Cross Doughnuts. Because they are baked, not fried, they are similar to the traditional buns, but have a lighter texture perfect for filling with fruit preserves like a jelly doughnut; I like to use a couple of different kinds, so I filled some with my Extra-Puckery Lemon Curd and the rest with cherry preserves. They are a delicious breakfast treat any day of the year!
Makes about 18 doughnuts.
1-1/2 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup shortening
4-1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup fruit preserves or lemon curd
for the glaze:
1 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar
2 - 3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
for the “cross” icing:
1/2 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon water
Heat the buttermilk in a small saucepan until it just begins to boil, then remove from heat and allow to cool until just barely warm; if the buttermilk separates, just whisk it back together. In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, dissolve the yeast in warm water until bubbles begin to form on top, about two minutes. Add the milk, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, eggs, shortening, and about two cups of flour. Mix on medium speed, scraping the sides of the bowl, for about a minute, then add remaining flour until you have a smooth, elastic dough. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and dust lightly with flour all over. The dough should be soft and pliable. Roll it out gently until it is about 3/4” thick. Cut doughnuts out with a 3-inch round cookie cutter and place on parchment paper-covered cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart. Brush the tops with melted butter, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 20-30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 420°F. When the doughnuts have risen, bake for 8 - 10 minutes until lightly golden and puffed, then let cool on a rack.
Using a pastry bag fitted with a wide round tip and filled with your choice of filling, push the tip into the side of each cooled doughnut and gently squeeze in about a tablespoon of filling until it just reaches the outside of the doughnut.
To make the glaze, whisk together all the ingredients until smooth; the glaze should have a syrupy consistency. To glaze the doughnuts, pick up each one and dip the top into the glaze, about halfway, then set on the rack to let the glaze settle.
To make the “cross” icing, whisk together the ingredients until you have a fairly stiff icing, but still soft enough to pipe (add water a little bit at a time to get the right consistency, and add more if necessary). Place into a piping bag with a small round tip and pipe a cross on top of each glazed doughnut.
Serve immediately; the doughnuts will keep for about 24 hours in an airtight container.
• Heating up, or "scalding", the milk, helps to create a lighter dough, dissolve sugar and fats, and bring out flavors in spices and extracts.
• Buttermilk adds a nice tang to the dough, but you can use any kind of dairy or non-dairy milk.