Kid's Activity: Hot Crossed Buns

by Carol Jordan and Julie Snyder

Hot Cross Buns were once traditionally served on Good Friday and through the Lenten season. Each bun has an icing cross on top as a reminder of Christ. They demand a little effort, but the time taken to make these yummy treats will create fun and delicious memories!

First the buns:

Ingredients:

  • 2 pkgs active dry yeast (1/4 ounce each)
  • ½ cup warm water **
  • 1 cup warm milk **
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup softened butter or margarine
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 6½ to 7 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup dried currents
  • ½ cup raisins

     ** 1½ cups warm skim milk can be substituted for water and milk in the bun recipe.

Directions:

  1. Heat water and milk to 110 - 115 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water. Add warm milk, sugar, butter, vanilla, salt, and nutmeg, and 3 cups of the flower. Beat until smooth.
  2. Add the eggs one at a time, beating mixture well after each addition.
  3. Stir in the dried fruit and enough flour to make soft dough.
  4. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. (Approximately 6 - 8 minutes)
  5. Place in a greased bowl and turn over to grease the top. Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise until doubled in size -- about 1 hour.
  6. Punch the dough down and divide into 30 small balls of equal size and place on lightly greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise again until doubled in size -- about 30 minutes. Use a sharp knife to cut a cross (X) into the top of each roll.

Next the egg wash:

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs water
  • 1 egg yolk

Directions:

  1. Beat egg yolk and water together and brush over each roll once they have finished rising the second time.
  2. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 12 - 15 minutes. Place on wire racks to cool.

Finally, the icing:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 4 teaspoons milk or cream
  • Dash of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla

Directions:
     Once buns have cooled, drizzle icing over the top of each roll following the lines of the cut cross.

Lesson Tips

The kitchen is a natural laboratory! Here are a few ideas to expand this baking project into a science and math workshop:

• Compare ¼, ½ and 1 cup measuring cups. Help your child discover how many "¼ cups" will fit into 1 cup. See how many "½ cups" can be filled from the 1 cup measure. Try the same experiments with measuring spoons.

• Watch the warm water and yeast mixture. When it turns bubbly, remove a bit with an eyedropper. Look at the moving cells under a microscope or with a magnifying glass. Can you see bubbles? Are there more yeast cells on your slide after five minutes? Search online for information about yeast and fermentation.

• Pick up two eggs. Hold the one in your left hand still. Hit it with the egg in your right hand (Not too hard!). Which egg cracked? Which egg do you suppose has the most momentum -- the moving egg or the egg stationary egg?

• How does yeast make bread rise? Cut a slice through the dough before it begins rising. Draw a picture in your notebook. Punch it back together. Let the dough rise. Cut a slice through the raised dough. Draw a picture of it now. Is there a difference? What are the bubbles? How did they get there?

•  Practice counting. 30 rolls. Make rows of 10. How many rows? Plan to make six rows. How many hot cross buns in each row?

Carol Jordan is the mother of 2 children. She has been a preschool teacher for 9 years and is working toward a CDA (Child Development Associate) an Early Childhood Education professional credential.

Copyright © Melissa Jaramillo and Julie Snyder. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.