Chai Spiced Hot Cross Buns with Cream Cheese Icing

Happy Easter to you all! I hope you’re enjoying some time with family or at least some peace and quiet over this holiday weekend. Unfortunately, I’ll be doing neither, as Sam is working both today and tomorrow which leaves me with our two wild and crazy offspring. But hey, at least we have these delicious hot cross buns!

This was my first time ever making these Easter treats and I don’t know why, but I had it in my head that it would be hard… Let me tell you, it wasn’t at all! If you’ve never had one, they’re kind of like a toned down cinnamon roll. All the same flavors, except not quite as sweet and rich. It’s nice because you don’t feel like you just gained 10 pounds after eating one! The only thing, as with all yeast doughs, is the amount of time that is needed to allow appropriate proofing. Still, I finished these in a morning, no problem, and worked around the house during the wait times. It’s really not bad!

Chai-Spiced Hot Cross Buns with Cream Cheese Icing — makes 15 rolls

For the Rolls (adapted from Pioneer Woman)

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 chai tea bags
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup sugar (divided)
  • 2 1/4 tsp. (or 1 package) active dry yeast
  • 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour (divided)
  • 1/2 tsp. (heaping) baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. (scant) baking soda
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup raisins (I used golden)

For the Icing (adapted from Call me Cupcake)

  • 1 stick butter, room temp
  • 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 6 oz cream cheese, cold

For the egg wash –

  • 1 egg white
  • Splash of milk
  1. Place milk and tea bags in a medium saucepan. Steep on medium-low for 10 minutes. Do not allow the milk to come to a boil. If you begin to see bubbles, turn it down.
  2. Remove tea bags from milk and add the canola oil and 1/2 cup of the sugar. Turn heat up to medium and, stirring frequently, heat milk until very hot, but not boiling. Once hot, remove from heat and allow to cool for 30 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle yeast over warm milk mixture. Add 4 cups of the flour and stir. The dough will be super sticky, but that’s okay! Cover with a dish towel and allow to rise for at least one hour. **You may decide to mix your dough in a large bowl instead of the pan and that’s fine. Whatever gives you enough room to stir and rise.
  4. In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/2 cup flour, baking power, baking soda, salt, 1/2 tsp. of the cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. of the cardamom, and 1/4 tsp. of the cloves. Add to the dough and stir until combined.
  5. In small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup of sugar with 1 tsp. of cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. cardamom, and 1/4 tsp. cloves.
  6. Turn dough out onto floured work surface. Press on the dough to flatten it out slightly. Sprinkle approximately one third of the sugar spice mixture over the dough. Then sprinkle approximately one third of the raisins. Then fold the dough over and flatten again. Repeat with another third of sugar spice mixture and raisins. Fold and flatten again. Repeat with last of the sugar spice mixture and raisins.
  7. Line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment. Working with heavily floured hands, pinch off slightly larger than golf ball sized piece of dough, roll it into a ball, and then turn the edges under so the top is nice and taut. Place in the baking dish. Repeat until you’ve used all the dough. You should have three rows of five rolls. If you want to get OCD about it (which I totally did) you can weigh the dough, then divide that number by 15 to get how much each roll should weigh and go from there. What can I say, there are some things I’m weird about. Also, I should mention that this step is a bit of a sticky mess. Don’t get frustrated, just roll with it. They’ll turn out fine!
  8. Cover baking dish with dish towel and set aside to rise for 30 minutes.
  9. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  10. Make egg wash by mixing egg white with a splash of milk. Once oven is ready, brush egg wash over buns and bake for 20-22 minutes, until tops are nice and golden brown. Allow to cool completely in the pan.
  11. While rolls bake, make the icing — beat butter with hand mixer or stand mixer until pale, about 2 minutes. Add in powdered sugar and continue beating until pale and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add cream cheese in pieces and beat until smooth. you want a kind of thick consistency here so the icing doesn’t spread. Add more powdered sugar if necessary. If you get it too thick, add a bit of milk to thin it out. Scoop into piping bag or plastic baggie. Once rolls have cooled, pipe a long stripe down the center of the three long horizontal rows. Turn the pan and pipe a stripe down the center of the five short rows. This should create a cross on top of each roll.

Let me know of you decide to make these, and as always feel free to ask questions in the comments! Happy Easter, y’all!


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