Hot cross buns are traditionally eaten at Easter, and what could be nicer than a homemade hot cross bun, filled with fruit and fresh from the oven? These buns are flavoured with apple and spices for extra taste and they are so easy to make. Read on for step-by-step instructions on how to make hot cross buns and get the entire family involved in making your own hot cross buns at home!
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Homemade hot cross buns with apple and spices
Have you ever bought a packet of hot cross buns from the supermarket and got them home to find they contain hardly any fruit? It's happened to me more times than I care to think about!
A hot cross bun has to be full of fruit. If it's not, then you might as well call it a hot cross bread roll!
After being disappointed many a time by the lack of fruit in my hot cross buns, I decided to make my own. In this post, I'm going to show you how to make hot cross buns that are filled with fruit, and in addition, are flavoured with apple, mixed spice, and cinnamon for the best hot cross buns ever.
The apple sauce gives a delicious taste to these hot cross buns and helps keep them moist. This is hands-down the best recipe for hot cross buns I have ever tried.
There are so many ways to eat them. You can eat them plain, you can eat them buttered, or you can eat them my personal favourite way, which is toasted and with the butter melting all over them.
Now that the youngsters are home from school, why not all get together in the kitchen, follow my easy instructions for making hot cross buns, and you'll be eating your own homemade hot cross buns in no time.
And while you are at it, why not try making homemade Chelsea buns too?
How to make hot cross buns
Get the complete list of ingredients and full instructions for making hot cross buns on the printable recipe card at the end of this post.
The first step is to gather together all your ingredients.
For the buns
Flour - Bread flour makes the fluffiest buns, but you can get away with all-purpose flour or cake flour if that is all you have.
Sugar - caster sugar dissolves more easily into the dough, but you could use granulated sugar instead.
Butter - obviously butter gives a better flavour, but if you only have margarine you can substitute. Don't substitute with a margarine spread though - it has to be brick margarine labelled 'for baking'. In the UK, Stork is a good alternative.
Milk - less than you would think - the apple sauce will provide additional liquid.
Egg - use a large egg - if you use a medium or small egg you will have to add a small amount of additional milk to compensate.
Apple puree - If you don't have a jar of apple puree you can make your own by peeling and coring one apple. Chop the apple into cubes and place it in a saucepan with just enough water to cover it. Bring to the boil and allow to cook until soft. Mash with a fork and allow to cool.
Sultanas - You should add at least 1 cup of sultanas, but you can increase this by another half a cup for even more fruitiness. If you enjoy mixed peel in your cinnamon buns you can substitute 25g sultanas for 25g mixed peel.
Instant yeast - this comes in packets of 7g (2 teaspoons) and you will need 1 packet mixed in with the flour and other dry ingredients.
Ground cinnamon and mixed spice - these make the perfect spice combination for hot cross buns.
For the crosses and glaze
For the crosses - you will need 2 tablespoons flour mixed with 5 to 6 tablespoons water to make a thin paste. This is piped onto the buns before they are baked. If you prefer, you could make a mixture of 2 tablespoons icing sugar with 1 tablespoon water and pipe this on after the buns have been baked.
For the glaze - you will need a tablespoon of apricot jam thinned out with 2 tablespoons of water.
If you prefer you could substitute the apricot jam with orange or lime marmalade.
Mix the dough
- Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and add the sugar, yeast, and spices. Mix to combine.
- Place the butter and milk in a microwave-safe container and heat until the milk is lukewarm. The butter doesn't need to be completely melted. It will get kneaded into the flour as you mix. It should just be nice and soft.
- Add the warmed milk and butter to the flour along with the egg and apple puree. Mix with a spatula to combine everything together.
- Tip out onto a work surface and knead for at least 10 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic. The longer you knead, the better the texture of the buns will be.
- If you have an electric stand mixer, with a dough hook, you can use this to knead the dough instead. This will take about 5 minutes at medium speed.
Add the sultanas
- If you are using an electric mixer, you can add the sultanas one minute before the dough has been fully kneaded and let the stand mixer incorporate the sultanas into the dough.
- If you are kneading by hand, press the dough into a large rectangle and spread the sultanas on top.
- Roll into a sausage shape, then fold in the ends and knead lightly to distribute the sultanas evenly throughout the dough.
- Place the dough back in the mixing bowl, cover with a clean towel and leave in a warm place to rise for an hour. The dough should double in size.
- Tip - if your kitchen is cold, turn the oven on for one to two minutes to let it just get slightly warm inside, then turn the oven off and place the covered bowl in the oven with the door ajar.
Assemble and bake
- Line a baking tray with baking parchment, or brush the baking tray very lightly with sunflower oil. This will prevent the hot cross buns from sticking to the tray.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down then divide it into 16 equal pieces.
- Form it into balls, flatten them slightly and place them on the prepared baking tray. Leave about 1cm between each bun as they will expand further when you proof them.
- Cover the buns and leave for another hour until they are nicely risen.
- Make a thin paste with the 2 tablespoons flour and 5 tablespoons water and spoon it into a piping bag fitted with a small nozzle. If you don't have a piping bag you could just spoon it into the corner of a plastic freezer bag and sip off the corner.
- Pipe crosses across the buns.
- Place the tray in a preheated oven (190C / 375F) for 20 to 25 minutes until the buns are golden.
- Remove the hot cross buns from the oven and brush them with a mixture of 1 tablespoon of apricot jam mixed with 2 tablespoons of water while the buns are still hot. Use a pastry brush to help you.
- Serve either plain or toasted, with lashings of butter.
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Other baking recipes
Why not try one of my other baking recipes.
- Banana walnut bread
- Homemade Scones with Strawberry jam
- Banana Oat Cakes
- Homemade Chelsea Buns (cinnamon buns)
- Upside down apple pie
- Lemon meringue pie
- Pineapple coconut cake
Hot Cross Buns with apple and cinnamon
(Click the stars to rate this recipe)
- 4⅓ cups / 600 grams bread flour
- ½ cup / 100 grams caster sugar
- 1½ teaspoon / 7 grams instant yeast granules
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice
- 1 cup milk
- ½ cup / 100 grams butter
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup apple puree
- 1 cup / 150 grams sultanas or more if you like plenty of sultanas in your buns
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 5 tablespoons water more or less
- 1 tablespoons apricot jam
- 2 tablespoon water
- Mix flour, sugar, yeast, cinnamon and mixed spice together in a mixing bowl.4⅓ cups / 600 grams bread flour, ½ cup / 100 grams caster sugar, 1½ teaspoon / 7 grams instant yeast granules, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon mixed spice
- Melt the butter and milk together in the micowave or in a saucepan on the stove until the butter has softened and the milk is warm. Do not boil - it should just be lukewarm1 cup milk, ½ cup / 100 grams butter
- Add the milk and melted butter to the dry ingredients. Add the egg and the apple puree and mix to combine.1 large egg, ½ cup apple puree
- Tip out onto a work surface and knead for about 6 to 8 minutes until the dough is soft and elastic.
- Flatten the dough into a rectangle and spread the sultanas on top.1 cup / 150 grams sultanas
- Roll into a sausage shape and then knead gently until the sultanas are well-distibuted.
- Return to the mixing bowl, cover with a clean towel and leave in a warm place for about an hour until doubled in size.
- Knock down the dough, then divide it into 16 equal pieces.
- Form each piece into a ball, flatten slightly and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place the buns about 1cm apart, they will come together as they prove, and during baking.
- Cover and leave to proof for another hour.
- Pre-heat the oven to 190°C /375°F.
Make the crosses
- Mix 2 tablespoons flour with about 4 tablespoons water. Add the additional tablespoon of water if necessary to make a thin paste.2 tablespoons flour, 5 tablespoons water
- Spoon the mixture into a piping bag with a small nozzle. I you don't have a piping bag, use a plastic sandwich bag with one corner snipped off.
- Pipe crosses onto the buns.
- Place the baking tray in the preheated oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown. Remove the tray from the oven.
- Mix the jam with water until smooth.1 tablespoons apricot jam, 2 tablespoon water
- Using a pastry brush, brush the jam over the top of the buns while they are still hot.
- Serve plain or split the buns and spread with butter. Alternatively you could toast the split buns (on one side only) under a hot grill before spreading with the butter.
I am not a nutritionist. The nutrition information has been calculated using an on-line calculator, and is intended for information and guidance purposes only. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should consider calculating it yourself, using your preferred tool.
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