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Monday 18 April 2011

Baking for Beginners: Hot Cross Buns

Easter just wouldn't be Easter without Hot Cross Buns. Traditionally eaten on Easter Friday (that gives you four days to bake them girls), they're just an ordinary white bread roll that's been sexed up with butter, eggs, spices and fruit.

The method is pretty much the same as any bread - so set aside some time to make these (it's the kind of job that's great for a lazy bank holiday weekend). There's a bit of kneading, a bit of waiting around for the dough to rise, some more kneading, some more rising, some baking, and then finally you get your buns. Putting the crosses on the top is very easy, but if you can't be bothered with making up the paste and piping it on you could always mark the crosses on the top with a knife.

Traditional Easter buns have raisins or currants and candied peel, but I have shamelessly copied Marks & Spencer and studded mine with cranberries and a healthy dose of orange zest. These aren't just Hot Cross Buns. They're Domestic Sluttery Hot Cross Buns. And they're pretty damn good.

Cranberry & orange hot cross buns (makes 12)

You'll need:

  • 200ml milk
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1tbsp dried yeast / 20g fresh yeast
  • 450g strong white flour
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4tsp ground cloves
  • 85g soft butter (let it come to room temperature, or give it a quick nuke in the microwave)
  • 110g dried cranberries (or raisins/currants/mixed peel)
  • Zest of an orange
For the crosses
  • 110g plain flour
  • 1tbsp neutral vegetable oil
  • Some water
For the glaze
  • Apricot jam or shredless marmalade
Make it!
  • If you have fresh or non-fast acting dried yeast, heat the milk to body temperature (it should feel neither hot or nor cold when you dip a finger in). Mix in one teaspoon of the sugar, then the yeast and eggs. Leave it for a few minutes until it starts foaming. If nothing happens, your yeast might be a bit past it.
  • If you have fast action yeast, skip this step. Add the yeast straight to the flour and just mix the milk and eggs together in a bowl.
  • Sift the flour into a bowl and stir through the salt and spices.
  • Mix in the butter and the rest of the sugar, then make a well in the centre of the flour mixture.
  • Pour in the milk mixture gradually and beat with a wooden spoon to make a sticky dough. You may not need it all.
  • Flour the worktop and turn out the dough. Knead it with your hands for about 10 minutes, until it is smooth and springy. I find this bit quite therapeutic!
  • Put the dough into a large bowl and cover it with some lightly oiled clingfilm. Leave it to rest somewhere warm for an hour or two. It should double in size.
  • Preheat the oven to 200c / gas 6. Grease a couple of baking trays, or line them with parchment.
  • Knock the dough back by kneading it for a couple of minutes so it deflates to its original size. Knead in the cranberries and orange zest..
  • Divide into 12-16 buns and put on the baking trays. Leave plenty of space in between as they will double in size again. Leave them to prove for another 20 minutes while you make the crosses.
  • Mix together the flour and oil, plus a little bit of cold water to make a pipeable paste. Fill a piping bag with the mixture and pipe crosses on the top of the buns. If you don't have a piping bag, put it in a plastic sandwich bag and snip off the corner.
  • Bake the buns for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, warm the jam in a saucepan.
  • Take the buns out of the oven and brush the tops of the buns with jam to give a shiny finish.
  • Bake for 5 more minutes. When done they should be golden and sound hollow if you tap the bottom.
  • Cool on a wire rack, or eat warm with lashings of butter.


  1. This looks do-able! I'll give them a go for Easter.

    1 tbsp dried yeast - is that roughly two of those little 7g sachets?

  2. They look good, but the hot cross bun loaf in my breadmaker is just a little less time consuming.

  3. I made hot cross buns this weekend, but they came out more like hot cross scones :( Not sure what I did wrong, but was my first "bready" baking effort. Might have to try your recipe this weekend.

  4. I made my third batch of buns this weekend and there were quite...heavy, so I suspect old yeast. However, they taste lovely! I used marzipan to make the crosses and husband is now addicted to baked marzipan.

    Your recipe next I think!

  5. Ooh marzipan, that's a good idea Lisa.
    Sara - I think it was one sachet of the yeast I used, but I'm not sure if all sachets are equal so best to measure.
    Lee - you might not have kneaded for long enough. Or perhaps your yeast was a bit elderly. Keep trying it though (hot cross scones sound pretty good to me anyway...)


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