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I am making hot cross buns and wondering why the buns have to have a glaze... Any scientific answer or is it just because it's nicer?

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  • Are you talking about a pre-bake eggwash/glaze or the post bake sugar glaze? – Catija Mar 28 '16 at 23:09
  • I am talking about the post bake glaze... – user44606 Mar 28 '16 at 23:10
  • They're not "crossed" if they don't have the traditional x of glaze on the top... I think I'm still confused about what you're asking. – Catija Mar 28 '16 at 23:11
  • Sorry, I probably did not explain myself well enough! After you pull them out of the oven and let them cool. You apply a sugar glaze that is sticky. Is there a particular reason that that glaze has to go on - is it to seal it or is it just to make it look better and taste better? – user44606 Mar 28 '16 at 23:13
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    Not on any of the recipes I've ever seen. The only glaze I see in any recipe is the eggwash to help them brown and the traditional cross of glaze/icing. Here's one of the ones I looked at. Perhaps if you could update your question to include your recipe and the source of it? – Catija Mar 28 '16 at 23:15
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I would say that it's not required for any scientific reason. I believe that, traditionally, it's common to put a sweet topping to add an extra hint of sweetness to the buns, which are generally not very sweet themselves.

It may be in the US that it's more common to make the cross out of the glaze rather than creating a cross in the dough using a paste. When I found recipes from England (along with the one you linked from Australia), they both use the flour paste with a light glaze over the entire bun. This BBC recipe, specifically, uses a glaze made from apricot jam, which sounds very nice.

The American recipes tend to not have an all-over glaze, preferring to simplify the preparation process by making the cross with a white sugar icing after the baking process is completed, though (as seen as an option in this Martha Stewart recipe) you could certainly glaze the entire thing, as if it were a doughnut... though this would leave it without the traditional white "cross" on top.

But, as you can see from the images of the American recipes, provided there's a good eggwash before baking to make the buns golden, they should also get a nice shine, so the glaze shouldn't be necessary for that reason... and without, I'd think it would make them easier to handle, as they're not as sticky all over.

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British hot cross buns traditionally have the cross made of a flour & water paste then have a shiny apricot glaze added post baking. It adds shine & a little fruity sweetness. It can make them very sticky though! Best to just brush the glaze over the very top & leave the sides so as to be less sticky to pick up :)

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