Sunday, May 8, 2011

Hot Cross Buns

I made buns. Hot cross buns! Check ‘em out. I’m quite proud of myself. They are 'unglazed' in the photo above...the glazed buns can be seen at the end of this post.

When I was little I wasn’t a fan of hot cross buns, or anything with raisins, currants or dried fruit in general really. Dried fruit was for old people. Now that I’m older I get it. I like dried fruit and I never thought I’d say it but I’m quite partial to a slice of fruit cake with a cup of tea. I can’t help it. One thing I still don’t like is chewy, hard dried fruit in cereal, especially muesli. My sister and I both think there should be more non-fruit muesli available - but that’s another story. Back to my buns.

We were having a really quiet Easter so I planned to fill one of my days by baking hot cross buns. I haven’t baked bread in years, and I’ve never made hot cross buns so I was expecting it to be a bit of a challenge, but to be honest it wasn’t. It was all quite straightforward until I got to the jam. I did manage to get flour and bits of dough all over the kitchen but that’s just how I bake. When you’re working with flour it’s good to throw it around a bit so you look all baker-like.

The recipe I worked with was from I Eat Therefore I Am. I felt this was a good, safe place to start. I added a few very small tweaks of my own (like soaking the sultanas because I like them juicy and plump and upping the spice). What I was hoping for was a nice soft bun with a definite ‘hot cross bun’ vibe – warm spices, sweet fruit and a light, bready texture. And that's what I got.

Hot Cross Buns
310ml warmed milk
60g caster sugar
16g instant dried yeast (I used 2 sachets of Edmonds Sure to Rise Dry Yeast)
600g plain flour, sifted
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 ¼ tsp allspice
½ tsp ground nutmeg
60g butter, (just soft)
1 ½ cups raisins or sultanas – soaked in a cup of boiling water or tea
2 eggs, lightly beaten

For the Cross

60g plain flour
60ml water

If you haven’t already done so, soak the sultanas (or currants etc) in the boiling water or tea. I think the tea gives a nice flavour however this is entirely unproven and possibly pointless. I used a regular breakfast tea, but you could try any tea such as earl grey or a fruity, floral herbal tea.

Whisk the sugar, milk and yeast together until the sugar has dissolved. Cover this mixture and set it aside until it becomes frothy (which means the yeast has activated), around 10 mins.

In a separate bowl whisk the flour, salt and spices together. Rub the butter in the flour mix until it goes crumbly. It takes a little bit of work but I find these flour/butter processes quite soothing.

Drain the soaking fruit well and stir the fruit, along with the egg and frothy yeast mixture until just combined.

Throw some flour on your work surface (i.e. kitchen bench) and swish around so you make a nice floury surface for your dough. Turn your dough out onto the bench and knead using the heels of your hands for around 5 minutes until it becomes smooth and stretchy. Lightly grease a large bowl (melted butter or light oil are fine), place dough in the bowl and turn once so the dough is lightly coated with grease. Cover with cling wrap and leave in a warm, draught-free place for 45mins or until the dough has doubled in size. Tip: if it’s cold where you live like it is in Wellington, before you start this recipe heat the oven to 50°C and then turn it off – you can then put your dough in the slightly warmed oven to rise. Just be careful that it’s not too warm, it should be cosy, not hot!

Once the dough has doubled in size, remove the cling wrap and punch the dough down (just whack your fist right into it) until it has dropped in size a little bit. Give the dough a quick knead again and divide it into 12 bun like portions. I divided mine into about 16 as I was using a smaller tray (18 x 28cm) and could only fit 12 smallish buns into it. I used the remaining dough to make a twist which I then burnt and promptly binned. Whoopsies.

Place your little buns into a greased 20 x 30cm baking tray, cover with cling wrap and leave in a warm place to rise for 15 minutes. Don’t try and squish all your buns super tight into the tray, otherwise they’ll smoosh all together and be fighting for room. Gently touching buns are good. Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Whisk the flour and water for the paste together (if it’s too gluggy add a little more water) and pipe using a fine piping tip into cross patterns across the buns.

Bake at 200°C for 10 minutes then reduce the heat to 180°C and bake for 15 mins more. The buns are ready when they look golden and sound hollow when you tap the top.

The original recipe suggests glazing the buns with hot apricot jam. I attempted this but was too lazy to properly heat the jam so it ended up sticky and thick. Next time I’d brush the uncooked buns with an egg wash (beaten egg with a little milk or water) before cooking, which should hopefully give them a nice shine.

Here are my sticky, jammy, glazed buns.

I gotta say, these buns were really good. I surprised myself! If I had to pick between these buns and Pandoro buns – mine would win. Definitely an unexpected result. In saying that I didn’t ask anyone else to make the same call but my vote counts. Next time I might get a little adventurous and add some dried apricot, lemon rind or…chocolate.

If you’re in the mood for spicy, sweet buns try these! And remember, it doesn’t have to be Easter to enjoy a toasted hot cross bun with a smear of butter and a nice cup of tea.


  1. Hi Danielle, the hot cross buns looks really good. I'm glad the recipe worked for you. I was nervous making them too as I'm not confident with yeast. I'm going to start experimenting more and tweaking them too. I want to try and make one with dried peaches, which I love, or dried blueberries, or dried mangoes. Who know what they'll taste like. Some may be awful, but hopefully there are some good ones too. Now we can also eat them all year round.

    Lastly, if you have spare buns that you can't eat quickly enough, I find they freeze extremely well. 20 seconds in the microwave and they're delicious again. You can even turn the buns into bun and butter pudding, yummo.


  2. Thanks Thanh! And thanks for being the first to comment on one of my posts! I love the idea of dried peaches, I'll have to see if I can find them here in Wellington.