Hot Cross Buns

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A seasonal classic comprised of a rich butter dough studded with soft fruit and generous spice. We have enhanced this recipe by using a water roux, which makes the buns superbly soft and light without becoming doughy or dry (as many supermarket versions tend to).


Preparation Time: About 3 hours
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 6 buns


  1. First, make the water roux by putting the flour and water into a saucepan, and then gently heat it on the hob, stirring it all the time with a whisk. It will thicken to form a translucent paste that resembles a Victorian gentleman’s hair tonic or wallpaper paste (if you want to be precise, it should reach a temperature of 65°c). the water roux
  2. Once you have made the water roux, cover the pan with cling-film/plastic-wrap and set it aside to cool to room temperature.
  3. In a bowl, weigh in the flours, milk powder, sugar, salt, dried yeast and mixed spice. Then mix them together. the dry ingredients
  4. In a cup or small bowl, whisk the egg using a fork, then weigh 30g (about half) of it into the dry ingredients (keep the remaining half of the whisked egg as it will be used later to glaze the buns). Then add in the butter, the warm water and the cooled water roux. the mixed dry ingredients with the wet ingredients
  5. Using a spoon, mix everything together to form a rough sticky dough. the roughly mixed dough
  6. Then its time to get messy (you are allowed to wear gloves). Scrape the dough out of the bowl and onto your immaculately clean worktop. Start kneading the dough by pulling the dough up and down using one hand as if it were a large piece of chewing gum (although, given the nature of this dough, you can just knead it any way you like/can). It will stick to the worktop. It will stick to your hands. It will be irritatingly messy but persevere as this process helps to develop and strengthen the gluten. kneading the dough
  7. Keep kneading it for about 10 minutes. The dough will actually begin to come together and start to release itself from the work top. the kneaded dough
  8. Flatten the dough a bit and place the fruit on top of the dough. adding the fruit to the hot cross bun dough
  9. Then fold the dough over, encasing the fruit, and gently knead it until the fruit is evenly distributed throughout the dough. Place the dough back into the mixing bowl. the mixed dough prior to proving
  10. Cover the mixing bowl with cling-film/plastic-wrap and leave it to rise for about an hour until it has doubled in size. the risen hot cross bun dough
  11. After the dough has risen, tip it out on to a lightly floured work top. Then using a knife, divide it into 6 equal portions and roll each of them into round balls.
  12. Place the balls about 2cm apart on a baking tray lined with greaseproof/silicon paper or one of these clever non-stick mats like what we have. the shaped hot cross buns prior to the final rise
  13. Loosely cover the balls of dough with oiled cling-film/plastic-wrap (so they have enough space to rise unrestricted) and put them in a warm place for about 45 minutes until they have doubled in size and are touching.
  14. Heat the oven to 200°c.
  15. After the buns have risen, remove the oiled cling film/plastic wrap and put the tray to one side while you make the piping paste. the hot cross buns after the final rise
  16. In a small bowl combine the sugar, flour and water with a spoon so you have a smooth, lump-free paste. Now make a piping bag by either using a cone made from baking parchment or a plastic bag with the corner cut off. The piping bag needs to have a fairly small nozzle, roughly ½cmthe white cross mixture
  17. With the leftover egg, add 1 teaspoon of water to the cup and whisk it together. Then, using a pastry brush, brush the egg wash onto the tops of the buns.
  18. Press the side of a skewer into the tops of the buns to indent a cross (this gives the piping paste somewhere to sit and following the lines makes it easier when piping). indenting the buns for the cross
  19. As best as you can, pipe the paste one line at a time over the buns, there are no prizes for neatness. If you pale at the thought of piping, just use a teaspoon to spoon small amounts of the piping mixture into the cross indents. piping on the cross mixture
  20. Don’t worry about any of the piping mixture running onto the tray as they will be removed after baking. the hot cross buns ready for the oven
  21. Place the buns onto the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 15 minutes until golden brown.
  22. While the buns are baking, make the sugar glazing syrup. Put the water and sugar into a saucepan and heat it until it while whisking all the time. Once the syrup starts bubbling, boil it for a further 30 seconds and then set it to one side to cool.
  23. After the buns have come out of the oven, leave them on the tray to cool for 10 minutes before brushing on the sugar syrup glaze. Leave the buns to cool completely before diving into them! the hot cross buns after baking and glazing
  24. And there you have it, soft, moist and throughly delicious hot cross buns. Enjoy them toasted with plenty of salted butter. a finished, toasted hot cross bun with butter
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Useful Information

Can it be frozen? Yes.
Can it be prepared in advance? Yes, they can be finished up to 1 week in advance.
Will leftovers be nice? Yes, for 1 week, providing you toast them before eating.


- Of course, you don’t have to pipe the cross on the top, it is a religious symbol after all, but if you celebrate Easter then its rather fitting. Any other time of the year, they make rather excellent tea cakes!

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