A soft and fluffy GENEROUS SIZED Hot Cross Buns are so fragrant and surprisingly simple to make! Full of EASY tips to help you every step of the way!
There’s nothing better than the smell of fresh homemade Hot Cross Buns wafting through your kitchen. Warm bread + fragrant spices = heaven! The best part is that they are easier to make than you think and taste the same, if not BETTER than your local bakery. Go homemade, you will never go back!
HOT CROSS BUNS
Easter isn’t Easter without hot cross buns. Especially with an easy-to-follow recipe that lets you choose between using a mixer or going in by hand.
From proofing the dough to piping the crosses to the rise of the buns in the oven to the shiny, sticky glaze. Every single part of this recipe makes for a proud moment in your kitchen. You’ll beam with pride pulling these out of the oven!
Yes, YOU CAN DO IT!
THE ESSENTIALS TO MAKING HOT CROSS BUNS
You can make homemade hot cross buns with any type of yeast – rapid rise, instant or dried. Use 2 packets that weigh 7g (1/4-oz.) each, or about 2 1/4 teaspoons each (1 1/2 tablespoons in total).
Even though instant or rapid rise yeast does not need to be activated before use, we still do it out of habit as a reassurance that the bread will rise. It’s a great way of testing it before hand to make sure it is active.
If yeast doesn’t froth, throw it out. It won’t work or rise.
Make sure your milk is warm enough to the touch, without burning your finger (temperature should be at 110°F or 45°C). If it’s too hot it kills the yeast.
Use full fat, 2% or skim. Warm in the microwave for 1 minute, stir, then warm again for an additional 10-20 seconds. It should be warm to the touch. If it’s too hot, allow to cool slightly before proceeding with the yeast.
Bread flour is lighter and softer when compared to regular white flour. However, you can use either in this recipe.
HOW TO ACTIVATE YEAST
Place yeast, milk and 2 teaspoons of the sugar in a small bowl to activate. Set aside until frothy on top, about 3-5 minutes.
START YOUR DOUGH
While yeast is activating, grab a large mixing bowl and combine your dry ingredients. Create a well in the centre AND pour in the yeast along with the wet ingredients.
FOR STAND MIXER (faster, easier, minimal effort required): Mix until a smooth elastic dough forms, about 5 minutes on low speed setting 2. Add extra flour ONLY if needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough JUST pulls away from sides of bowl (not too sticky).
BY HAND (requires a little elbow grease = great workout): Lightly oil your hands (to prevent it from sticking to your fingers), and knead dough until soft and smooth, about 10 minutes.
The stickier the dough, the softer your hot cross buns will be.
Soft dough = better rise. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl while mixing, but should still be soft and slightly sticky.
Dry dough = too much flour. They won’t rise as well and may bake into hard buns.
THE FIRST RISE
Once the dough is smooth and elastic, lightly oil the same mixing bowl you worked with and place the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and place a dry tea towel over the top to effectively create warmth and humidity. Leave in a warm place to proof for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size. You can move it next to a warm oven or stove if you’ve been cooking, or a window with plenty of sun shining in.
Divide dough into 12 equal pieces. Yes, we even weighed each piece to make sure your buns come out even in size! Each piece should weigh about 4-oz. or 116-119 grams.
Roll each piece into a ball. You want to hold a piece in your hand, stretch both sides down while lifting the middle upwards to create a smooth round dome, then shape into a ball and place them evenly spaced out into a lined baking pan. Make sure your baking pan is deep to allow your buns to rise in the oven.
THE SECOND RISE
Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let sit until they double in size one more time, about 30 minutes.
You need a mix of water, flour and pure vanilla extract. Make sure it’s the same consistency as a thick pancake batter, runny enough to pipe or squeeze out of your ziplock back, but thick enough to hold its shape while baking.
Bake until the buns are a deep golden brown colour, about 25-30 minutes. The smell alone will begin to drive you crazy! HOLD ON! Not long to go now!
A sticky, glossy glaze on Hot Cross Buns completes the taste! You can use jam (apricot tastes the best), marmalade, honey, maple syrup, golden syrup, agave, rice malt syrup or whatever you have on hand. Just mix with a couple teaspoons of boiling water!
TIPS TO MAKE THE BEST HOT CROSS BUNS!
Make sure your yeast is not expired! If it’s been a while since you’ve used it last, you’ll want to test it. Mix 1/4 teaspoon of yeast in a bowl with a couple tablespoons warm water and a pinch of sugar. Let sit in a warm, draft-free area for 5 min. It should begin to foam in a couple of minutes.
Flour. Start with 4 1/2 cups as a start to get the right consistency. It’s easier to add more than it is to fix already dry dough. Start with 4 1/2 cups of flour which is just under what you need. Then, add in more tablespoon increments ONLY if needed so it’s not too sticky. Remember, you’ll be adding more to your work bench to knead it. Less in best!
Dough. You want it smooth and elastic! Knead it enough so that when you hold it and stretch it slightly, it stays smooth and doesn’t tear. THAT’S THE TRICK! Buns will not be as soft and fluffy if you don’t need the dough enough.
Make sure you wait to cool them for at least 30 minutes after they come out of the oven. They need those 30 minutes to finish drying out on the inside.
For day old buns, warm them up for 15 seconds in the microwave to get them soft. Or cut in half and toast them under your broiler for 3-4 minutes.
MORE BREAD RECIPES
Hot Cross Buns
- 2 packets dry, instant or rapid rise yeast, 1/2-oz. or 14 grams (just over 1 tablespoon)
- 1 1/2 cups warm milk (12.6 fl. oz or 375 ml)
- 3/4 cup superfine sugar, (or caster sugar), divided (4.5-oz. or 130 grams)
- 4 1/2 cups bread flour or plain/all purpose, (22.7-oz. or 645 grams) PLUS up to 1/4 cup extra if needed
- 2 teaspoons all spice, or mixed spice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sultanas, (5.4-oz. or 155 grams)
- zest of an orange, or 2 tablespoons mixed peel
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly (2.1-oz. or 60 grams)
- 1/2 cup all purpose or plain flour, (2.6-oz. or 75 grams)
- 5 tablespoons warm water
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp jam, (orange marmalade or apricot jam -- you can also use honey, maple syrup, agave or golden syrup)
- 2 teaspoons boiling water
- Place yeast, milk and 2 teaspoons of the sugar in a small bowl to activate. Set aside until frothy on top, about 3-5 minutes.
- While yeast is activating, grab a large mixing bowl and combine flour, remaining sugar, all spice, cinnamon and salt. Give those dry ingredients a light whisk to combine, then add in the sultanas and zest.
- Create a well in the centre of the dry ingredients; pour in the yeast, cooled melted butter and egg.
- FOR STANDMIXER: Mix until a smooth elastic dough forms, about 5 minutes on low speed (setting 2). Add extra flour, 1 tablespoon at a time while mixing, ONLY if needed, until the dough JUST pulls away from sides of bowl (not too sticky).
- BY HAND: If you don't have a stand mixer, lightly dust a work bench with flour. Lightly oil your hands (to prevent it from sticking to your fingers), and knead dough until soft and smooth, about 10 minutes.
- TEST DOUGH: Hold dough in your hands and pull slightly outwards. It should have a smooth top and not tear when stretched.
- LIGHTLY oil the same mixing bowl you worked with. Place dough inside bowl, cover with plastic cling wrap and place a dry tea towel over the top. Leave in a warm place to prove for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size.
SHAPE INTO BUNS
- Line a deep 9 x 13-inch (31cm x 23cm) baking tray with baking paper. You want a piece long enough to create a slight over-hang for easier lifting once baked. Set aside.
- Remove cling wrap and punch down dough with fist to deflate and knock the air out. Transfer dough to a clean, lightly floured work surface.
- Knead dough for an additional minute or two to get remaining air out. Shape dough into a log and divide into 12 equal pieces (each piece should weigh about 4-oz. or 116-119 grams). Briefly roll each piece into a ball, evenly spacing them out on the tray as you go into rows of 3 x 4.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C) -- all ovens.
- Cover tray with plastic wrap; place dry tea towel over the top and leave in a warm place for an additional 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.
- Mix flour and water to a thick-ish paste (like a thick pancake batter -- see photos in post).
- Grab a sandwich-sized ziplock bag. Snip corner to measure a 3mm hole (0.1-inch). Spoon paste into bag; carefully press the air out and SEAL the top. (Test hole is big enough by squeezing out some paste into a bowl first. If you can create a small straight line, you're ready to make your crosses. At this point you can add a little extra water to the paste ONLY IF needed).
- Remove cling wrap and slowly pipe crosses onto buns. You want some paste to fall into and hug each roll/crevice so while they bake and rise up, the crosses don't break).
- Place buns into preheated oven and bake for 22-25 minutes, or until deep, golden brown on top.
- Transfer buns to a wire cooling rack.
- Mix jam (or honey) and boiling water together in a small bowl. Brush buns over with glaze, then leave to cool.
- Allow to cool to just warm to the touch before serving.
- Slice open your sticky hot cross bun, spread with butter (optional) and serve.