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4.73 from 11 votes

Hot Cross Buns

Hot cross buns are fruity with just the right amount of warming spices. These will become a staple Easter treat.
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time20 mins
proving time1 hr
Total Time2 hrs 20 mins
Course: Afternoon Tea, Breads, Breakfast
Cuisine: English
Keyword: easter buns, hot cross buns, steam oven hot cross buns
Servings: 12
Calories: 322kcal

Ingredients

For the buns

  • 2 tsp yeast active dry or instant, see notes
  • 1/3 cup superfine sugar caster sugar
  • 1 cup whole milk lukewarm
  • 4 cups bread flour you can use all-purpose flour in a pinch but bakers flour has a higher protein content and will give better structure to your finished buns
  • 2 tsp mixed spice see notes
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp fine salt
  • 3 oz unsalted butter very soft
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup water lukewarm, you may need up to half a cup
  • 1 cup sultanas or raisins
  • 2/3 cup dried apricots diced

For the crosses

For the glaze

  • 2 tbs superfine sugar caster sugar
  • 2 tbs water
  • 1 tsp liquid glucose optional; if you haven’t got any, don’t buy a whole jar for this. The buns will still look and taste fine, the glaze just won’t be as shiny/sticky without it

Instructions

Mix the dough

  • If you're using active dry yeast (see notes), mix the yeast, milk and a teaspoon of the sugar in a small bowl. Set aside for 5-10 minutes until it begins to look foamy. If you're using instant yeast you can skip this step and put these ingredients straight into your mixing bowl.
    2 tsp yeast, 1 cup whole milk, 1/3 cup superfine sugar
  • Put the flour, remaining sugar, spices, salt, butter, egg, yeast mixture and water into the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Mix on low speed until a dough forms; add a little more water if you need it, you’re looking for a soft sticky dough (most of it should be mixing around the hook, but it won’t completely leave the sides of the bowl). Increase speed to medium and mix until the dough is soft, smooth and elastic, about 7 minutes.
    1/3 cup superfine sugar, 4 cups bread flour, 2 tsp mixed spice, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp ground ginger, ½ tsp fine salt, 3 oz unsalted butter, 1 egg, 1/3 cup water
  • Add the dried fruit to the dough and mix again on low speed until it's mostly combined. Don't worry if it doesn't look very evenly mixed, you'll fix this in the next step.
    1 cup sultanas, 2/3 cup dried apricots
  • Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and give it a couple of gentle kneads with your hands. Fold it over on itself a couple of times to make sure the fruit is evenly mixed through, then shape the dough into a ball and put into a clean bowl.

Conventional oven method

  • Cover the bowl of dough and let it sit in a warm place until it's doubled in size, about 45 minutes to an hour.
  • Turn the proofed dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently press it down to knock out any large air bubbles. Shape it into a rectangle so it's easier to portion, and cut the dough into 12 even pieces (if you'd like smaller buns feel free to cut into more pieces). Form each portion into a ball. There are lots of ways to do this; I gently turn and pull the edges into the center until a nice round shape forms. Flip it over and give it a roll around with a cupped hand, and you’re left with a lovely smooth ball. Put the balls, evenly spaced, into a 9x12 inch (23x30cm) pan.
  • Cover the pan and let the buns proof a second time until they're doubled in size, about 30-45 minutes. Preheat your oven to 350°F/180°C while this is happening.
  • While the buns proof, mix the flour and water for the crosses and put into a small piping bag (a sealed sandwich bag with the corner snipped makes a good substitute).
    ¼ cup all-purpose flour, 2 tbs water
  • When you're ready to bake, pipe crosses onto the tops. Bake until risen and golden, about 30 minutes.

Combi steam or convection steam oven method

  • Put the bowl of dough into your steam oven (uncovered). Set to 100°F/38°C, steam setting, or use the dough proofing setting if your oven has one. Proof for 30 minutes; the dough should double in size.
  • Turn the proofed dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently press it down to knock out any large air bubbles. Shape it into a rectangle so it's easier to portion, and cut the dough into 12 even pieces (if you'd like smaller buns feel free to cut into more pieces). Form each portion into a ball. There are lots of ways to do this; I gently turn and pull the edges into the center until a nice round shape forms. Flip it over and give it a roll around with a cupped hand, and you’re left with a lovely smooth ball. Put the balls, evenly spaced, into a 9x12 inch (23x30cm) pan.
  • Proof the buns in your steam oven again for about 20 minutes, until they double in size.
  • While the buns proof, mix the flour and water for the crosses and put into a small piping bag (a sealed sandwich bag with the corner snipped makes a good substitute).
    ¼ cup all-purpose flour, 2 tbs water
  • When your buns are done proofing, remove them from the oven so you can pipe the crosses while the oven preheats. Preheat oven to 400˚F/200˚C, combi steam setting. If your oven has variable steam settings, use 60% steam. If not, don't worry! Just set to combi steam at the correct temperature and the oven will figure out the humidity for you.
  • Pipe crosses onto the buns, then bake until risen and golden, about 20 minutes.

Glazing (for both methods)

  • While the buns cook, put glaze ingredients into a small pan and bring to the boil to dissolve the sugar and glucose. Brush the glaze over the hot buns when they come out of the oven.
    2 tbs superfine sugar, 2 tbs water, 1 tsp liquid glucose
  • Serve hot cross buns warm or at room temperature with good butter. Any leftovers can be split and toasted, and they freeze very well.

Video

Notes

  1. You can use either active dry yeast or instant yeast in this recipe. Instant doesn't need to be activated first, so you can skip the first step of the recipe and add it straight into the mixing bowl with the other dough ingredients. 
  2. Want to bake your buns fresh at breakfast time? Make them up to the stage where you form into balls and put into the pan, and skip the second proof. Instead, cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap and put in the fridge for 12-18 hours. Take them out a half hour before you want to bake.
  3. You can substitute the specified fruit with an equal quantity of whatever you like. Sour cherries are nice, especially with some dark chocolate chips thrown in. Currants or raisins work in place of sultanas, and I’ve made a lovely date and apple version too (I finely diced a peeled apple, then steamed it for about 5 minutes to soften before mixing through the dough with a handful of diced dates).
  4. Because these are not full of preservatives and other delightful supermarket-bread goodies, they’ll go stale a lot faster. They’re great on the day of baking but if you’re not going to eat them all, freeze the leftovers and defrost when you’re ready to eat them.

Nutrition

Calories: 322kcal | Carbohydrates: 57g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 116mg | Potassium: 280mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 492IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 51mg | Iron: 1mg