This year, make a batch of homemade hot cross buns yourself. Rich, buttery, light, and airy, these sweet buns are dotted with raisins and cranberries. You can add the flour cross before baking or icing cross after baking. Let me show you how.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with a hook attachment, combine milk, eggs, sugar, melted butter, and yeast - set aside for 2 minutes until foamy.Pro tip- Instant yeast does not need to be activated but I like to ensure my yeast is good and working for me. You can also add all ingredients directly to the flour.
Then, add the flour, cinnamon powder, grated nutmeg, and salt. Bring it all together at medium speed scraping the sides of the bowl to incorporate all the dry flour. Pro tip - You can do this by hand. But, if you do not like kneading I highly recommend using a stand mixer with the hook attachment.
Stand mixer - once all the flour is well incorporated knead on medium for 4 minutes.By hand - transfer to a well-dusted worktop and knead for 5 minutes (video shows kneading by hand).
When the dough is soft, shiny, but still slightly sticky, shape into a ball. Place the dough in an oiled bowl seam side down. Coat the surface with oil to prevent drying. Cover with a clean kitchen cloth or plastic wrap.
Leave in a warm place. Let rise for 60 to 90 minutes until double in volume.Pro tip - In winter you may need 90 minutes or more but in summer the dough may double in 45 minutes. If you can't attend to it at that moment, de-gas, reshape, and let double in volume again.
Shape the buns
While the dough is rising soak the cranberries and raisins in hot water for 30 minutes. Then, drain well and set aside.Pro tip - Soaking will soften the fruit, which tastes better. But, it also means the fruit won't absorb moisture from the dough making it dry.
When the dough is double in volume, transfer to a well-dusted floured surface. Flatten it then add the soaked and well-drained fruits and combine well. Then, roll into a small log.Pro tip - At this point, there is no need for additional flour. So use a light dusting of flour.
Using a dough scraper, divide this log into four portions and then each of those portions into 3 again. This should give you 12 rolls.Pro tip - Alternatively, you can also make 9 and place them in a 9-inch square baking pan.
Hold each piece of dough in your hand and gather all the seams together. Pinch the seams at the bottom, then place the ball on a non-flour surface while still holding it in your hand.
Then, loosen the grip on the dough and roll back and forth into a tight circle against the work surface. You will feel the dough become tight and smooth.Pro tip - The goal is to create a tight, smooth ball. If you overdo the rolling you will rip the top surface which will give a rough, not smooth roll.
Place the rolls on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Cover with a clean kitchen cloth or plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for about 45 minutes until almost double in size.Pro tip - Spray the plastic wrap with oil to prevent it from sticking to the rolls.
When the rolls are almost double in size, preheat the oven at 350°F / 180°C/ Gas Mark 4.
Traditional hot cross buns with flour cross.
Flour paste - Combine the flour and water to make a paste. Spoon the paste into a piping bag with a tip.Pro tip - The paste should be thick piping consistency or it will spread during baking.
Cut a small hole a the end of the piping bag. Pipe a line in one direction then pipe a line in the other direction.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes until the top is golden.
Next, take them out of the oven and cover them with a clean kitchen cloth for at least 5 minutes to keep them soft.Pro tip - Do not leave the rolls on the tray for too long as the steam will make the bread soggy on the bottom.
Hot cross buns with icing crosses
Brush the rolls with egg wash (you can also use milk or cream).Pro tip- Egg wash is a full egg with 2 tbsp of water. An egg wash will give a nice golden color to the buns.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes until the top is golden.
Then, take them out of the oven and cover them with a clean kitchen cloth for at least 5 minutes to keep them soft. Cool completely. Pro tip - Do not leave the rolls on the tray for too long as the steam will make the bread soggy on the bottom.
Icing - Combine the powdered sugar with 2 tsp milk and vanilla extract to make a piping consistency. Add more milk if too thick or more powdered sugar if too thin.Pro tip - It takes very little liquid to make this icing. So, add the milk a little at a time.
Pour the icing into a piping bag or cone. Cut a small hole at the tip and pipe a cross on each bun. Make sure the buns are cooled completely otherwise the icing will melt. Pro tip - I like to add a line in one direction on all the buns first then go the other direction making a cross.
Measure all ingredients ahead of time so you don’t forget anything at the last minute.
For accuracy, use a weight measure for the ingredients because every cup of flour can weigh differently depending on how you fill it.
The liquid (milk or water) must be warm (not hot) about 110F. If the liquid is too hot it will kill the yeast, similarly, if the liquid is too cold it will not activate the yeast.
Though instant dry yeast has a long shelf life, it can get ruined. Always check the expiry date on the yeast. If unsure, combine the yeast with water/milk, sugar/honey, and oil/butter from the recipe and let stand 5 minutes. If it gets foamy the yeast is good to go if not, it’s best to buy fresh yeast or check the temperature of the milk.
Keep salt away from yeast as it can kill the yeast. I like to combine salt with the flour then add the yeast mixture.
A soft loose well-hydrated dough is not necessarily a bad thing, it often will give you a soft puffy bread, so don’t be tempted to add more flour than mentioned in the recipe.
Kneading is key to making good bread. While kneading by hand can be therapeutic, using a stand mixer is easier and quicker.
Leave the dough at room temperature to rise until double in volume. While not recommended, when in haste, you can place it in a warm (30 C / 75 F- not hotter) oven this will expedite the rise.
Bread does not have to be time-consuming. You can leave the dough in the fridge to rise for a few hours (even overnight) while you go about your chores. A slow rise will give more flavor to the bread.
Always preheat the oven for at least 10 minutes before you place bread in or the low temperature will spread the dough too much
These buns will stay fresh for 3 to 4 days.
They are best kept in an airtight container, rather than the refrigerator.
You can also freeze them in a ziplock bag for up to a month.
They are best reheated from frozen because the condensation adds moisture.
Making the dough overnight
You don't have to make these buns immediately.
You can prepare the dough - let rise for an hour
Then cover and leave in the fridge for up to 12 hours.
Remove from the fridge, punch down the dough.
Shape the buns - cover and leave at room temperature
This second rise will take longer because the dough is chilled - about 60 to 90 minutes depending on the temperature.
As a guide they should be about double in volume.
Pipe the cross and bake in the preheated oven as directed in the recipe above.
For make-ahead or freezer-friendly dinner rolls.
Bake the buns as given in this recipe.
Let them cool completely.
Once cooled place them in an airtight freezer-safe ziplock bag.
For best results, thaw in the fridge overnight then reheat in the microwave for 30 seconds or more as needed.
I've use raisins and cranberries but you can also use other dried fruits like dried apricots, dates.
Nuts are a great addition to hot cross buns as well
The nutrition information and metric conversion are calculated automatically. I cannot guarantee its accuracy. If this data is important to you please verify with your trusted nutrition calculator. Thank you