Every year around this time I have two distinct thoughts. Thought number one goes something like this: ‘Oh great! It’s Easter season! Time to get my hands on some Hot Cross Buns!’. Thought number two quickly follows thought number one and sounds something like this: ‘There’s no way I’m making Hot Cross Buns from scratch, I don’t care how many people call me an Easter Scrooge… what else can I hot cross?’.
Last year I made Hot Cross Biscuits. They’re almost shaped like buns, and they’re buttery tenderness totally excuses the fact that biscuits aren’t buns.
This year we’re getting away with Hot Cross Pancakes. It’s Lent you can eat, breakfast-in-bed-style. Is that how you’re supposed to celebrate Lent… in bed? Probably not, and yet I’ve still hot crossed my pancakes and doused them in too much syrup.
A more clever woman would insert some sort of Pope joke here but I’ll just stop while I’m ahead.
This recipe begins with my favorite buttermilk pancake base. The batter is thick and the pancakes are durable enough to flip, but they’re wonderfully light and tender. Are they the perfect pancake? Maybe, just maybe they are.
To our classic pancake we’ll add cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg, along with currants and citrus zest. Big full flavors for breakfast!
I forgot melted butter! Melted butter goes in everything.
In this case, melted butter is whisked with egg and buttermilk. Good goes great!
Thick batter meets extra flavor.
I really do love this pancake batter.
This is where things get hot crossed. Cream cheese plus powdered sugar plus heavy cream.
I threw this thick cream cheese topping in a pastry bag with a medium tip. Then I fried up some pancakes.
Golden pancakes: hot and crossed.
Everything would be fine and good just as it is… but of course fine and good is never enough. Let’s add syrup!
A pool of pure maple. Totally normal!
Oh! Ps. I visited a maple syrup farm in Vermont last weekend! I have a lot to share. There’s maple in our future.
These pancakes have all the flavor of warm Easter breads but in pancake form. Sometimes laziness spawns creativity (and breakfast in bed).
Hot Cross Pancakes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 cup dried currants
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
butter and oil for cooking
pure maple syrup for serving
For Cream Cheese Cross:
4 ounces (1/2 cup) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
In a small bowl whisk together butter, buttermilk, egg, and vanilla extract. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients. Stir to combine. It’s ok if the mixture is a bit lumpy. Add the currants and fruit zest and stir to combine. Allow mixture to sit for 5 minutes while the griddle heats.
Preheat oven to 150 degrees F. Place a oven-proof plate in the oven. This is where the pancakes will stay warm while the entire batch is cooked.
Heat a griddle (or nonstick skillet) over medium heat. Add about a teaspoon of butter and a splash of vegetable oil. Heat until fat is hot. Spoon 2 tablespoons of batter onto the griddle for each pancake. Fry until golden brown on each side, flipping once. Place cooked pancakes on the warm plate in the oven and cover with a clean towel. Place a bit more oil or butter in the pan after each batch of pancakes are cooked.
To make the cream cheese mixture, stir together the three ingredients in a small bowl. Place in a pastry bag with a medium round tip. If you don’t have a pastry bag, a ziplock freezer bag with the corner tip cut off is a good substitute.
Top stack of pancakes with cream cheese cross. Serve warm with maple syrup.