Hot Cross Buns!  How Cross Buns!  Less butter, more whole grains… baked and iced for everyone!

These rich, sweet, yeast bread delights show up every spring for Easter–served from English tradition on Good Friday. Topped with a cross of creamy white icing, these pop-able treats are more like mini cakes, filled with lots of buttery goodness, candied fruits, and warm spices. Each sweet little bun can set you back about 270 calories, and that’s if you can stop at just one.

I actually remade these buns a few years ago using a combination of all-purpose and whole-grain flours, and by combination I mean about 75% all-purpose. This year, though, I decided to go all in with whole grains, using 100% white whole-wheat flour. The results were delicious. White whole wheat is a bit milder than regular whole wheat–a nutty offering to complement the dried fruit and spices that make this bread so dang tasty. Golden raisins and currants are plumped in warm orange juice, and fresh citrus peel adds a pop of brightness.

A touch of creamy butter is still present for that moist, cake-like texture – just two-thirds less than the original, and I also add in a good dollop of tangy Greek yogurt to keep the bread fluffy and moist (whole grain flours often need a bit more liquid than refined). When it came time to glaze I decided to cut the amount of sugar by half, and used Greek yogurt to keep it thick and creamy. A splash of orange juice gives the glaze a little oomph. I did have to let the dough rest a bit longer than the original recipe calls for. It’s just a little extra love that whole-grain flour needs in order to rise properly. These buns are good. Really good.

Hot Cross BunsHands-on time: 40 min. Total time: 4 hr. 15 min.

If currants are not available, you can double the raisins or add a different small dried fruit, such as cherries or cranberries. These can be eaten at room temperature, but are delicious when eaten warm.

Buns:1/2 cup golden raisins1/2 cup dried currants1/4 cup very warm orange juice (120° to 130°F)22 ounces white whole-wheat flour (about 4 2/3 cups)1 teaspoon salt1 teaspoon grated lemon rind1 teaspoon grated orange rind1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon1/4teaspoon grated whole nutmeg1 1/2 packages quick-rise yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)1 cup very warm fat-free milk (120° to 130°F)1/2 cup 2% reduced-fat plain Greek yogurt1/4 cup honey1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted2 large eggs, lightly beatenCooking spray1 tablespoon water1 large egg

Glaze:1/2 cup powdered sugar1/2 cup 2% reduced-fat plain Greek yogurt1 tablespoon fresh orange juice

Preparation1. To prepare rolls, combine first 3 ingredients in a small bowl; let stand 10 minutes. Drain fruit in a colander over a bowl, reserving fruit and juice.

2. Weigh or lightly spoon 22 ounces flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, salt, and next 5 ingredients (through yeast) in the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attached; mix until combined. Combine reserved orange juice, 1 cup fat-free milk, 1/2 cup yogurt, honey, butter, and 2 eggs in a bowl, stirring with a whisk. With mixer on, slowly add milk mixture to flour mixture; mix dough at medium-low speed 7 minutes. Add reserved fruit; continue to mix an additional 2 minutes.  Cover and let rise in a warm, dry place, free from drafts, 2 hours or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes. Divide into 28 equal portions (about 2 ounces each); roll each portion into a ball (dough will be sticky.  Use a little flour on your hands if needed). Place rolls on a baking sheet.  (Note: For crustier edges, place rolls slightly apart from each other.  For fluffier, softer edges, place them next to each other.) Cover and let rise for 1 hour or until almost doubled in size.

3. Preheat oven to 400°.

4. Combine 1 tablespoon milk and egg in a small bowl; stirring with a whisk. Gently brush rolls with egg mixture. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until golden, rotating tray once during baking. Remove from pan; cool 10 minutes on a wire rack.

5. Combine powdered sugar,  and remaining 1/2 cup yogurt, and 1 tablespoon orange juice in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Spoon glaze into a zip-top plastic bag. Seal bag; snip a tiny hole in 1 corner of bag. Pipe a cross on top of each warm roll.

SERVES 28 (serving size: 1 roll)CALORIES 139; FAT 2.7g (sat 1.3g, mono 0.6g, poly 0.2g); PROTEIN 5g; CARB 23g; FIBER 3g; CHOL 22mg; IRON 1mg; SODIUM 97mg; CALC 39mg

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