Thursday, April 1, 2021

Hot Cross Cinnabunnies


This is a sponsored post by Challenge butter, but the text and opinions are all mine. Thank you for supporting brands that make Kylee's Kitchen possible.

I've always wanted to make hot cross buns—it's one of my favorite Easter treats. I love the combination of warm spices and dried fruits. I'm currently taking a yeast breads class at school, so I was feeling extra motivated to make them this year.

I decided to do a mashup of a hot cross bun and a cinnamon roll. And to make them extra festive, I made bunny ears. I'm calling my creation "Hot Cross Cinnabunnies."

The trick is to not cover the entire rectangle of dough in the filling. Leave a 4-inch border at the top. After you roll it up and cut your rolls, just unravel the part of the dough without the filling and cut it in half lengthwise. Then bend the two cut pieces so they resemble bunny ears.

I like to coat the cinnamon rolls in an apricot glaze after they come out of the oven because it looks shiny and it contributes to the fruity taste of hot cross buns. If you prefer, you can brush the rolls in egg wash before they go in the oven so they're shiny when they come out.

If you don't have time to make homemade cinnamon rolls but still want to try this recipe, there are a few shortcuts you can take. First, you can use frozen (and thawed) sweet dough (I like Rhodes), puff pastry, or crescent sheet dough. If you try this, skip ahead to the "for the filling" section of directions.

Alternatively, you can just buy jumbo cinnamon rolls, mix some dried fruit with a little all spice and orange zest, and stuff the dried fruit in the swirls of the rolls.


I used Challenge unsalted butter and Challenge cream cheese for this recipe. Challenge uses the freshest, purest cream in their products for superior flavor. You can smell the difference immediately upon opening their products.

I've learned a lot about baking breads since I started the class. As you can imagine, there's a lot of science involved! For example, one tip I learned is that when adding sugar to bread dough with a high percentage of sugar, only add half of the sugar at the beginning. Wait to add the other half until the dough appears to be mostly developed.

The reason is sugar is hydroscopic, meaning it attracts moisture. But hydration is required for gluten development and yeast fermentation. If you hold back some sugar and wait to add it until the dough is mostly developed, you don't have to worry about it stealing all the moisture.

Another thing I want to point out is I used instant yeast in this recipe. I like instant yeast better than active dry yeast because it doesn't require proofing. However, it is more difficult to find. (I purchased my instant yeast at Gordon Food Service) If you use active dry yeast instead of instant yeast, multiply the yeast amount by 1.33. This goes for any recipe in which you encounter this situation. And then, of course, you'll need to proof the yeast before moving forward with the recipe.

Hot Cross Cinnabunnies

Yield: Makes about 14 rolls


For the rolls

  • 1 cup (240 grams) whole milk, lukewarm
  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) Challenge unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, room temperature
  • 2 eggs (100 grams), beaten, room temperature
  • 4 1/4 cups (510 grams) bread flour
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar, divided in half
  • 1 Tablespoon (8 grams) ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons (4 grams) all spice
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons (7.75 grams) instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (9 grams) salt 

For the filling

  • 1 cup orange marmalade
  • 1 teaspoon (2.5 grams) cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon (1 gram) all spice
  • 1 cup (160 grams) mixed dried fruit (raisins, dried cherries, dried cranberries)

For the glaze

  • 2 Tablespoon apricot jam
  • 2 teaspoons water

For the cream cheese frosting


For the rolls

  1. Combine milk, butter, and eggs in large mixing bowl. Add bread flour, half of the sugar, cinnamon, all spice, instant yeast, and salt.
  2. Knead everything together, using a mixer or by hand, to form a smooth ball of dough. It will take around 8 to 10 minutes on second speed of stand mixer. About halfway through the kneading process, add the other half of the sugar. Dough will be sticky, but it should pull away from sides of bowl. If it doesn't add more flour, a tablespoon at a time.
  3. Place dough in large, greased bowl. Tightly cover dough with plastic wrap. Allow to rise in warm, draft-free environment until it doubles in size, around 90 minutes to 2 hours. 
  4. Punch dough down and transfer onto pastry mat or lightly floured surface. Roll into large rectangle, about 20 inches by 14 inches, it doesn't need to be those exact dimensions.

For the filling

  1. Mix the orange marmalade with cinnamon and all spice. Spread mixture on dough, leaving 4-inch border on top. 
  2. Sprinkle dried fruit on top of marmalade.
  3. Tightly roll up rectangle and cut into about 14 equal pieces. Arrange pieces, cut side down, on 2 baking sheets.
  4. Uncurl the 4 inches of the roll without filling and cut in half lengthwise. Bend dough strips and pinch ends to look like bunny ears. Cover rolls and let rise in warm place about 30 minutes or until dough is noticeably puffy.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake rolls about 15 to 20 minutes, or until they're light brown. If the bunny ears brown too quickly, cover baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  6. Remove rolls from oven.

For the glaze

  1. Place jam and water in bowl and microwave 30 seconds. Mix to combine. Brush cinnamon roll bunnies with jam mixture while warm.
  2. Allow to cool.

For cream cheese frosting

  1. Beat together cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract, and salt until smooth. Slowly add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
  2. Transfer cream cheese frosting to plastic sandwich bag and snip about 1/4 inch from corner.
  3. Pipe crosses onto cinnamon rolls to indicate hot cross buns.
  4. Serve immediately or store in air-tight container at room temperature for several days.

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