An easter favourite - soft hot cross buns are so easy to make at home! They are fluffy, fragrant and you know exactly what goes into them.
Come Easter and I make a big batch of these super soft Hot Cross Buns everywhere. They have a soft, fluffy texture and this yeasted dough is flavoured with orange and cinnamon and speckled with lots of currants.
I know you can pick up a batch from a nearby bakery. But here's why you should really think about making them at home:
- You know exactly what goes into them. These don't have any preservatives or artificial flavours in them
- The dough comes together really easily in a stand mixer if you have one. If you don't kneading it by hand takes about 10 minutes. If that's too much, get a family member help and makes this a fun, Easter activity!
The Story behind Hot Cross Buns
Hot Cross Buns traditionally mark the end of Easter, with the cross on top and the spices signifying important moments. Over time, they've gained popularity and are now enjoyed all year round!
What goes into them?
You need simple ingredients for Hot Cross Buns
- All Purpose Flour or Maida
- Yeast: We use Active Dry Yeast for all our baking, but can you can use Instant or Fresh Yeast as well. Its important to check the potency of your yeast to make sure its still alive and kicking. To do that, mix ¼ teaspoon yeast and a pinch of sugar in lukewarm water and let it sit for five minutes. If the liquid becomes frothy and rises, you know the yeast is good to use.
- Milk: To add moisture to the dough
- Sugar: For sweetness. You can use either white or brown sugar
- Spices: Spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg give hot cross buns their distinct flavour, and holiday feel. We also use some orange marmalade which can be easily substituted with orange peel
- Black Raisins: One of our favourite additions to hot cross buns, biting into bits of black raisins is one of the best things about eating hot cross buns. You can use green raisins, currants and cranberries too
How to make Hot Cross Buns
Here's a detailed step by step to show you how to make soft hot cross buns at home:
1. Add flour, yeast, sugar, butter, milk, vanilla extract and orange marmalade to a mixing bowl. and knead to combine. When the dough comes together and is not sticky any more add salt, cinnamon powder, lemon zest and grated nutmeg to the mixing bowl and further knead until combined.
2. Transfer the dough to the counter and continue to knead.
3. The dough is well-kneaded and ready to go when it has formed a strong gluten network and passes the window pane test as shown in the image.
4. Transfer the dough to a stand mixer and add cinnamon powder, and knead for 2-3 minutes on low or until well combined. This can be done by hand as well.
5. Transfer the dough back to the counter and form into a ball.
6. Lightly flatten it out and add cut black raisins and knead till combined.
7. Form the dough into a ball and transfer to a greased bowl. Lightly grease the dough as well.
8. Keep covered for an hour or until the dough doubles in size.
9. Punch down the dough and transfer it to the counter
10. Cut the dough into eight equal portions of about 75 grams each.
11. Shape the portioned dough into small balls and place on a lined baking tray.
12. Cover and allow to prove for an hour or until they double in size.
13. Brush with egg wash.
14. Pipe the flour mixture onto the buns to form an X or + shape.
15. Bake in a preheated oven at 190C for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
16. Add water, sugar and cinnamon to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer until it forms a light sugar syrup.
17. Brush the hot cross buns with syrup.
18. Serve warm with some softened butter.
Kneading the Dough just right
The best way to tell if your dough is kneaded well is by taking a piece of dough and pulling it gently till it's really thin, and almost looks like a window pane. If it doesn't break, and passes the 'windowpane test', you know your dough is kneaded just right. Another sign is that the dough should smooth and moist (not sticky, but moist). When you press down on the dough, it should easily bounce back.
Kneading bread dough is a place where a lot of people trip up, but a good thumb rule is 6-7 minutes in a stand mixer and approx 10 minutes if you knead by hand.
How to make the Cross for Hot Cross Buns
The cross is a simple mixture of flour and water. It's important to get the consistency right. The batter should be flowing consistency but not too runny or it'll just melt in the oven. If its too thick, it'll be stretchy and not nice. Make sure to pipe it to ⅛ inch thickness.
Glaze for Hot Cross Buns
These can be enjoyed as is, but we love making a super simple cinnamon glaze by simmering water, sugar and cinnamon together. This glaze makes the buns slightly sticky, keeps them moist and adds more flavour.
These soft Hot Cross Buns are best enjoyed warm with butter slathered in the center. The sweet, salty flavours make these perfect for a snack or at tea time!
This year, enjoy these with your family irrespective of whether you celebrate easter or not! You'll never go back to store bought ones!
Watch How to make Hot Cross Buns
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Soft Hot Cross Buns
- 2 Cups (250 g) All Purpose Flour
- 1 ½ Teaspoon (7 g) Active Yeast
- 30 Grams (2 tablespoon) Sugar
- 40 Grams (3 tablespoon) Butter
- 140 Millilitres (0.66 cups) Milk
- 1 Teaspoon (5 ml) Vanilla Extract
- 2 Teaspoons (12 g) Orange Marmalade
- 1 Lemon zested
- 1 Teaspoon (5 g) Salt
- 1 Teaspoon (4 g) Cinnamon Powder
- ½ Teaspoon (2 g) Nutmeg powder
- 75 Grams Black Raisins chopped
- 1 Egg beaten
- 1 Tablespoon (15 ml) Milk
- ¼ Cup (31.25 g) Flour
- 3 Tablespoons (45 ml) Water
- ¾ Cup (187 ml) Water
- ½ Cup (100 g) Sugar
- 1 inch Cinnamon
- Add flour, yeast, sugar, butter, milk, vanilla extract and orange marmalade to a mixing bowl. Using the dough hook of a stand mixer, knead on medium speed for 6-7 minutes. Knead until the dough is not sticking to the sides of the bowl.
- Add salt, cinnamon powder, lemon zest and grated nutmeg to the mixing bowl and further knead on low speed for 2 minutes or until you achieve a good window pane.
- Take the dough out of the stand mixer, flatten it out, and add raising. Knead gently by hand till the raisins are combined in the dough.
- Shape the dough into a ball. Place in a bowl or a tray and cover loosely with cling film or a damp cloth. Allow to bench rest for 1 hour.
- Remove the film and shape into 8 balls of 70-75 grams each. Place them on a tray lined with parchment paper and loosely cover with cling film. Ensure it is loose as the buns will further prove and increase in size. Proof for 1- 1 ½ hours or until the buns double in size.
- Preheat the oven to 190C for 20 minutes.
- Once proved, brush with egg wash (mentioned below) and pipe an X on each bun using the flour paste (method mentioned below).
- Bake for 15 - 20 minutes at 190C in a preheated oven.
- Remove from the oven once baked and lightly brush with prepared sugar syrup (mentioned below).
- Whisk the egg and milk together until combined. Brush the buns generously with egg wash.
- Whisk the flour and water together until combined. If the paste seems too runny, add a teaspoon of flour at a timeAdd this to a piping bag and and use it to pipe crosses on each bun before baking.
- Add water, sugar and cinnamon to a small pan and heat on medium till sugar dissolves. Continue to simmer for 2 - 3 minutes or until it gets thicker.