In Melbourne, a city full of food and obsessed by coffee, I cook, I eat, I share the good news and the bad. essjay eats

Traditional Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

When I set out to make a classic recipe I reference, cross-reference and then google search a few more variations before setting out. Last year I did this with Hot Cross Buns and I of course forgot to blog the result.  So here we are again – trying to remember that best bits from last year and blogging as I bake to ensure I don’t forget again!

Hot Cross Buns

The research facility...

I started making my own buns some 20 years ago because I was a vegetarian and didn’t want to eat gelatine (which is used in traditional hot cross bun glazes).  Now I’m an ethical omnivore and have reverted to my traditional recipe. It is really delicious and quite simple, however there is an almost as tasty vegan version here.

    • Hot Cross Buns – Traditional
      • 14 g instant dried yeast (two sachets) (or 30g fresh compressed yeast)
      • 500 g (4 cups) plain soft flour (not bread flour, just standard plain flour)
      • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
      • 2 teaspoons mixed spice
      • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
      • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
      • 40 g butter
      • 1 egg
      • 100 g currants
      • 50 g mixed peel
      • 20g diced citron if available. (Cedron is variety of citrus and is sold as a glacé fruit.  It is the traditional flavouring for panettone so you will often find it in Italian delis.  I bought mine at Mediterranean Wholesalers 482 Sydney Road, Brunswick.)
      • some grated citrus rind (about 1 teaspoon)
      • 1 tsp salt salt
    • Paste for Crosses
      • 30 grams plain flour
      • ¼ teaspoon caster sugar
    • Glaze
      • 1½ teaspoons caster sugar
      • 1 teaspoon gelatin
1. Place yeast, 2 teaspoons flour, 1 teaspoon caster sugar and 125 ml warm water (37°) in a bowl.  Mix to combine and leave in a warm place to get frothy.  (If the yeast doesn’t froth at this stage, it’s not active and you’ll have to get some fresh yeast before going any further).
Hot Cross Buns

Cedron slices next to the lime, frothy yeast on right


2. Mix spices with soft butter to form a paste.

3. Sift flour and salt into mixing bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attached, stir in the sugar and add the fruit and peels.  Mix with dough hook for a few seconds to ensure fruit is coated with flour and all is distributed evenly.

4. Add the yeast, egg and spice paste and start mixing again, adding up to 130ml of warm water in splashes until you achieve a soft and sticky dough. Knead on low setting (2) for 5 mins or so until smooth.

Hot Cross Buns

A soft sticky dough

5. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with cling wrap and tea towel and leave to rise in a warm space for an hour or so.
Hot Cross Buns

Doubled in size

6. Turn dough out and knead until smooth – divide into 12 and roll into balls.  Place them 3 x 4 in a 19cm x 23cm square baking tin or oven tray, lightly touching.  Cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place till nearly doubled.
Hot Cross Buns

Vegan on left, traditional on right

7. Preheat oven to highest setting and make paste by mixing flour, sugar and 50ml water into a paste.  Make a piping tube from greaseproof paper and pipe crosses on buns.
Hot Cross Buns

Piped crosses

7. Spray or sprinkle the inside of the oven with water and immediately turn it down to 200ºC (195ºC fan -forced). Bake for 20 mins.

8. Remove from oven.  Make glaze by heating gelatine, sugar and two tablespoons of water until dissolved. Brush glaze over hot buns.

Hot Cross Buns

Fluffy texture, lovely spicy fruit flavour

Hot Cross Buns

Vegan Buns on the left - Traditional ones on the right

The traditional buns are taller and slightly larger, probably due to the egg adding extra raising action.
Tips for success with buns:
Unlike baking cakes and biscuits, success with yeast recipes comes from “feel” and a bit of intuition.  A dough needs to be how it is described int he recipe eg soft and sticky in this one, for the final texture to be correct.  Yeast is a living organism and all batches of flour will absorb different amounts of liquid, so you really have to judge the effect of these variables and trust yourself.
Keep everything warm and if possible choose a humid day to bake.  If it’s neither – turn your oven on early and boil the kettle every now and then.

5 thoughts on “Traditional Hot Cross Buns

  • I will be making the traditional recipe this week. THANKS. It looks sensational.

    Comment from: deccles26

  • No! Not yet! I have home-made mixed peel for you. Next year, then.

    Comment from: Malissa

  • […] Essjay’s Traditional Hot Cross Buns […]

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  • Hi Mellie, yes the buns will take probably another 75g of fruit – but I would add a bit less water to the dough to make it a bit stronger and able to support the fruit. They will probably take a bit longer to prove as well in that case. Let me know how they go.

    Comment from: essjayeats

  • Just in time! I was looking for a recipe to make these on Friday. Thanks!

    I love mine super fruity though – do you think the mixture can take a bit more fruit?

    Comment from: tummyrumbles

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