hot cross buns 2020

Each year I make a batch of hot cross buns but as I dispense with the crosses I call them spiced fruit buns. I store the buns in the freezer until Passover has been and gone when they're devoured. I've made these buns twice this week, once for Everten and again for my own blog. As we're practising social distancing this year I shared the buns with my next door neighbours otherwise with all this baking, I'll be the size of a house once Covid-19 has been and gone. I think it's known as 'fattening the curve'.

For this years batch, I adapted the hot cross bun recipe from the Flour and Stone cookbook. The first version were pull apart hot cross buns, complete with wonky crosses. The pull apart hot cross buns were delicious but a bit small so the second time I made them, I made 12 regular sized buns. The second time I made the buns I changed the technique from the original method to the one I always use when making sweet buns. I like to pre-activate the yeast because sugar retards the action of the yeast and the buns don't tend to rise as well when dry yeast is used and I always melt the butter first in warmed milk.

I made the dough on Saturday, stored the shaped buns overnight in the fridge then baked them on Sunday morning. I had one for my breakfast and it was so delicious, I think these will become my go-to hot cross buns for the future. The orange scented syrup which dowses the buns is the real winner here.

Here's the recipe for you which makes 20 small pull apart buns or 12 regular size buns. For all my recipes I use a 250ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20ºC.  

Hot Cross Buns adapted from a Nadine Ingram recipe from the Flour and Stone Cookbook.
Fruit Mix
75g each sultanas and currants 
200 mls boiling water 
1 Earl Grey tea bag 
50g dried apricots or candied orange, chopped
1 tsp finely grated orange rind

Yeast Mixture 
10g dried yeast 
1 tsp plain flour 
1-2 tbls water

Bun Dough 
125 mls milk
60g unsalted butter, chopped
400g bread or plain flour
1 tsp fine salt 
2 tsp ground cinnamon 
¼ tsp each ground nutmeg, ground allspice and cloves 
60g soft brown sugar
1 egg

Crossing Mixture
100g plain flour
100 mls water
2 tbs sunflower oil
½ tsp ground nutmeg 

100g caster sugar
2 tbs water
1 tsp finely grated orange rind
Strained juice of 1 orange

To serve 
Butter and jam 

Fruit soak
Place the sultanas, currants, tea bag and 200mls boiling water in a bowl. Set aside for an hour or until fruit is plump. Remove tea bag and drain fruit well discarding the liquid. Pat the fruit dry with a paper towel. Add the dried apricots and 1 tsp orange zest and set aside until needed.

Yeast Mixture
Place all ingredients into a small bowl and mix to form a paste. Cover and leave for 10 minutes or until small bubbles form. If bubbles don't form after 1 minutes, discard the batch and start again.

Heat the milk in a small saucepan or in the microwave until lukewarm. Add the chopped butter and allow the butter to melt. Sift the flour, salt and spices into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the sugar, the yeast mixture and egg. Mix together on a low speed adding enough of the milk mixture to form a sticky dough. Once incorporated, increase the speed to medium and mix for 7 minutes. The dough will have pulled away from the side of the bowl forming a ball. Add the fruit mixture and continue to mix until incorporated. The dough will be quite sticky at this point. Place the dough into a large lightly greased bowl. Cover and place in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead until no longer sticky. Divide into 20 equal pieces if making into a circle or 12 pieces if using a lamington tray. Use your hand to roll each piece on the work surface to form a round bun. Place buns close together on a baking stone or pizza tray lined with baking paper, cover with a tea towel and allow to prove until doubled in size, about 45 minutes. While the buns are proving, make the crossing mixture.

Crossing mixture
Place all the ingredients for the crossing mix in a bowl and whisk to form an elastic batter. If it’s too thick, add a little extra water. Fill a piping bag fitted with a 5mm plain nozzle. Once the buns have risen, pipe a cross on the top of each bun then take the baking paper and gently remove the paper with buns from the baking stone as the stone needs to be preheated before use. 

If using a baking stone, place the baking stone in a cold oven on the middle shelf and then turn the oven to 200ºC (conventional). Allow to heat for 15 minutes before carefully placing the buns onto the pre-heated stone. Return the baking stone to the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the buns have risen a little. Rotate the baking stone or tray and bake for a further 10 - 15 minutes or until dark golden brown.  If you’re using a pizza tray or a lamington tin, place the tray in a pre-heated 200ºC oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the buns are a dark golden brown.

While the buns are in the oven, make the glaze. Combine the sugar, water, 1 tsp of orange rind and the juice and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes or until syrupy. Remove the buns from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Brush hot cross buns with the glaze and cool a little, then slide the baking paper and buns onto a wire rack. Serve warm with butter and jam. 

I think these are best served on the day or reheated the next day in the microwave or toasted with butter and jam.

Wishing you all a safe and happy Easter.

Bye for now,



  1. Hello,
    Loved hearing your good review on Flour & Stone's Hot Cross Buns. I did make a batch last year and was very disappointed; I was never going to make them again. However after reading your post, I realised it was the draining of the mixed fruit, & patting the fruit dry that was the key. My dough was very sloppy and almost impossible to divide into 12 balls.
    I have made another batch today and all went well with the dough. I have 12 dough buns in the fridge, as you mentioned in your post. Do you think after they have risen, if I could freeze them unbaked? I have just made Beatrix hot cross buns therefore don't need another freshly baked dozen of buns. I would appreciate your advice.
    I also loved your Passover recipes. It won't be long before I make Nigella's apple cake. Sounds too good not to bake.
    Thanks again for everything.

  2. I think freezing the shaped buns would be fine. Just remember it will take time to defrost them and allow for a second rise before they're baked. Maybe take them out the night before you want to bake them and defrost overnight in the fridge before bringing to room temperature the following day.

    I'm glad you enjoyed the Passover recipes. I must remake Nigella's apple cake because I didn't get a chance to taste it but then again I am baking and eating way too much these days. Happy Easter. J


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