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Hot Cross Buns

by | Mar 24, 2018

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I used to be intimidated by the thought of making my own Hot Cross Buns, but they’re actually not too difficult! Once you try your own homemade hot cross buns warm from the oven and coated in butter, you won’t go back to store-bought.

I used to be scared and intimidated by the thought of making homemade Hot Cross Buns. There was just something about adding yeast and the rising process that put me off for years. That, plus a terrible first attempt many many years ago where they turned out like rocks. I blame Melbourne’s cold weather for that one.

But my love of Hot Cross Buns plus my absolute hatred of orange peel led me to try customising my own buns without that aforementioned gross ingredient.

The key to good homemade hot cross buns is to knead the dough properly. Consider it a good 10 minutes of cardio workout and arm strengthening. The constant folding and stretching that happens when you knead dough are essential to building a strong network of gluten. Well developed gluten strands are what give your baked bread its fluffy crumb. So definitely don’t take shortcuts on the kneading.

homemade hot cross buns

Bread dough can also be a bit fussy depending on the mood of the kitchen gods. It’s totally normal to need a little extra flour one day if the dough is too sticky, and a little extra milk in the dough another day if it’s too dry. You’ll get the feel of the right consistency with practice but just aim for to the point at which the dough doesn’t stick to your hands.

The second key to good homemade hot cross buns is to be patient and let the dough rise properly. Ideally in a warm place until it doubles in volume. Depending on your room, this can take up to 2 hours. It needs to go in a large bowl with extra space to accommodate the expanding dough too. When ready, the dough should be spongy.

When the hot cross buns are in the oven they’ll go lovely and golden brown on top. But how do you know if they’re ready inside? Unlike a cake, there’s no skewer test to check the insides. And you don’t want to waste a bun in your dozen by pulling it open to check for doneness.

A hot cross bun is cooked when you hear a hollow sound when you tap or knock on the bottom of the bun. Pick one up with an oven mitt and give it a firm tap.

Homemade hot cross buns are best when they’re fresh and warm. Aim to eat them within 24 hours (as if eating them all is a challenge). Because they have no preservatives in them, they will start to go stale quicker than store-bought buns. If they just pass the point of being a little stale, a quick microwave to heat them will bring them back to life.

Happy baking, and let me know if you experiment with your hot cross buns flavours.

HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE HOT CROSS BUNS


Click to watch how to make Hot Cross Buns

Homemade Hot Cross Buns
Homemade Hot Cross Buns
Make these fruit and spice-filled Hot Cross Buns from scratch. They're great warm and toasted with butter!
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Servings Prep Time Cook Time Passive Time
12buns 30mins 25mins 2.5hrs
Servings Prep Time
12buns 30mins
Cook Time Passive Time
25mins 2.5hrs
Ingredients
  • Buns
  • 530 g 'Strong' Bread Flour e.g bread flour, pizza flour
  • 7 g Dry Yeast
  • 75 g Caster Sugar
  • 3 teaspoons ground Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 200 g Sultanas or other dried fruits
  • 1 Red Apple peeled, cored, chopped
  • 300 ml Full Cream Milk
  • 50 g Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Egg lightly beaten
  • Zest of 1 Orange optional
  • Flour Paste Crosses
  • 65 g Plain Flour
  • 1 teaspoon White Sugar
  • 80 ml Water
  • Glaze
  • 80 g Apricot Jam
  • 80 ml hot Water
Servings: buns
Units:
Ingredients
  • Buns
  • 530 g 'Strong' Bread Flour e.g bread flour, pizza flour
  • 7 g Dry Yeast
  • 75 g Caster Sugar
  • 3 teaspoons ground Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 200 g Sultanas or other dried fruits
  • 1 Red Apple peeled, cored, chopped
  • 300 ml Full Cream Milk
  • 50 g Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Egg lightly beaten
  • Zest of 1 Orange optional
  • Flour Paste Crosses
  • 65 g Plain Flour
  • 1 teaspoon White Sugar
  • 80 ml Water
  • Glaze
  • 80 g Apricot Jam
  • 80 ml hot Water
Servings: buns
Units:
Instructions
  1. Add the flour, dry yeast, sugar, cinnamon, salt, sultanas (or other dried fruit) and diced apple to a large bowl. Stir the dry ingredients together until combined.
  2. Add the butter and milk to a small saucepan. Heat together on low heat until the butter has melted and the milk is warm but not too hot (keep it under 40 degrees Celsius; 104F). Stir in the beaten egg.
  3. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the warm milk mixture. Stir together until a soft dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured bench and knead continuously for 10 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour, and if it’s too dry, add a little more milk to the dough.
  4. Lightly oil a deep large bowl and place the dough inside. Cover the top of the bowl in plastic wrap, tightly seal the edges, and leave the dough in a warm place to rise. It should roughly double in size after 60 – 90 minutes.
  5. Tip the risen dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured bench. “Punch it down” by folding the dough in half, rotating 90 degrees, folding it in half again, rotating 90 degrees, and folding it once more.
  6. Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Slice the dough into 12 equal sized pieces. Gently roll each into a ball and place them on the tray. Leave about 1cm between each ball if you can. Cover the tray with plastic wrap and leave it for 30 minutes in a warm place to rise again.
  7. Preheat the oven to 190-200 degrees Celsius (375F). Make the flour paste by hand-beating the flour, sugar and water together in a small bowl until smooth. Add the paste to a small piping bag or a zip-lock bag with one corner snipped off. Pipe a cross onto each bun.
  8. Place the tray on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 20 – 25 minutes. The hot cross buns should become golden brown on top. When ready, you should hear a hollow sound when you knock on the bottom of the buns.
  9. Transfer the buns onto a wire rack immediately so the bottoms don’t get soggy. Make the glaze by mixing the apricot jam and hot water together and straining out any lumps from the liquid. Brush the tops of the buns with the glaze.
  10. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Recipe Notes
  • Store fresh hot cross buns in an airtight container at room temperature. Best eaten within 24 hours for maximum freshness. You can “bring them back” a bit by microwaving slightly stale buns for 10 seconds or less.
  • “Strong” flour, or bread flour is different than regular plain flour or all-purpose flour. It has more protein and therefore more gluten. It’s available in the baking aisle of your supermarket.
  • Be careful not to heat the butter and milk too high, otherwise you’ll scramble your egg!
  • You can swap sultanas for other dried fruits like currants, raisins and orange peel. You can also leave out the orange zest and apple if you’d like.
  • Weigh each ball of dough if you’d like perfectly equal sized hot cross buns.
  • I used an apricot jam glaze instead of a traditional glaze with gelatin, as I’m a vegetarian. If you have a different glaze recipe, feel free to use that one.
  • Please use full cream, or full-fat milk instead of skim milk. You need the fat content from the milk in this recipe.
Nutrition Facts
Homemade Hot Cross Buns
Amount Per Serving
Calories 331 Calories from Fat 45
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5g 8%
Saturated Fat 3g 15%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.5g
Cholesterol 29mg 10%
Sodium 181mg 8%
Potassium 235mg 7%
Total Carbohydrates 64g 21%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Sugars 22g
Protein 8g 16%
Vitamin A 4%
Vitamin C 3%
Calcium 5%
Iron 15%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

You might like our other Easter recipes like our Best Ever Carrot Cake, Easter Cupcakes, and Easter Fudge.

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