This Easter, bake your own hot cross buns! These soft and fluffy buns are full of aromatic spices, sweet and juicy blueberries and candied fruit peel. Each bun is topped with iconic cross, glazed with apricot jam and sprinkled with (optional) crumble for a modern twist.
These fruity buns taste even better the following day, toasted, with a generous amount of butter. Once you discover how easy it is to make your own buns, you will never go back to the shop-bought ones again!
There are few ingredients needed to make these, but most of them are a cupboard essentials, and you probably have most of them in your kitchen already:
- Yeast- see below for more details on what type of yeast to use
- Caster sugar- I like to use caster sugar, because it's super-fine texture dissolves much quicker, but you can use just a regular, granulated sugar too.
- Butter- allow the melted butter to cool down before adding an egg to it, otherwise you may end up with scrambled egg.
- Eggs- you will need one large egg for the dough and one more egg for the glaze
- Spices- cinnamon and mixed spice, but you can swap them for your favourite spices. Nutmeg, cardamom or cloves will also work well here.
- Flour- it's best to use strong bread flour in this recipe, as it produces chewier buns, as it has higher gluten content. That said, you can also use all purpose/ plain flour, in the exact same way and quantity
- Lemons- try to use unwaxed lemons if possible. You will only need zest.
- Blueberries- you can use fresh or frozen blueberries. If using frozen, no need to defrost them first. Dried blueberries can also be used.
- Fruit peel- optional, but highly recommended. You can use mixed peel or your favourite type
- Apricot jam- it's being used to brush the buns with and create that shiny, sticky glaze on them. You can substitute the jam for simple sugar syrup, corn syrup or golden syrup too.
What type of yeast to use?
Any type of yeast will work. I used dried yeast (Allinsons), so it needed to be dissolved and activated in the liquid first. You can use warm water or warm milk to dissolve the yeast in. I'm using warm water in this recipe.
Fast-action, easy-blend or instant yeast can be used without the need to dissolve it first. You simply add it straight to your dry ingredients. If using fresh yeast, crumble it and dissolve in liquid first.
Whichever type you use, use the same amount of yeast. Rise times will vary, depending on the type, so just keep an eye on your dough.
It's much easier and quicker to use freestanding mixer to make these blueberry hot cross buns, and it is my preferred method. However, hand-held mixer with dough hook attachment will also work.
If you don't have mixer, you can also knead the dough by hand, but it will take longer and will require some elbow grease. Alternatively, check out this recipe for a no-knead version of hot cross buns.
- Mix the ingredients for the dough. Depending on the type of yeast, you may have to activate it first. Make sure the melted butter is cooled down.
- Knead the dough for about 5- 8 minutes (longer if kneading by hand). Transfer it to a clean, lightly greased bowl.
- Cover the dough and let it rise (tip: use shower cup to cover the bowl with, it is always my go-to!) in a warm place for 1- 2 hours or until it has doubled in size
- Gently punch the risen dough to release the air from it, transfer it to a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces (using digital kitchen scales helps a lot here).
- Shape the rolls into tight balls using your hands, and let them rise for another 30 minutes. If the dough feels a bit sticky, rub a little bit of olive oil or vegetable oil into your hands before shaping it into a ball.
- Brush with egg wash and pipe the cross pattern on top of the buns.
- Sprinkle with crumble (if using). You won't need all of the crumble, any leftovers can be frozen for another recipe.
- Bake for 25- 30 minutes until golden brown.
- Brush with warm apricot jam or sugar syrup.
How to pipe the crosses for the buns
I prefer to use plain/ all purpose flour for the cross mix, but either is fine. The paste should be quite thick, so don't be tempted to add more water to it. If you add too much water, the crosses will slide off from the top of the buns and will melt, becoming barely visible.
Use a piping bag with small, plain nozzle (mine was 3mm) or just a plain piping bag. If you don't have a nozzle, simply snip off a small piece at the corner of the bag.
Rather than piping individual cross on each bun, it is easier to pipe a line along each row in one direction, then another across.
Try to pipe the crosses over the buns slowly, so the paste wraps around and 'hugs' the curves of each bun. That way, the crosses won't break when the buns expand during baking.
Storing and reheating
Any leftover buns can be covered tightly and stored at room temperature for 1-2 days. To re-heat the buns, simply pop it into toaster for a couple of minutes. They taste delicious toasted with some butter, honey or jam on top of them.
Baked buns can also be frozen for up to a month, but they will loose some of the shiny glaze.
Make ahead instructions
Blueberry hot cross buns can be prepared ahead. You can prepare the dough up to step 3, transfer it to a clean bowl, cover it and place in the fridge overnight to prove. Remove the dough from the fridge and allow it to rise for 2 hours at room temperature, then proceed to step 4.
It's also possible to allow the shaped buns to prove in the fridge overnight. Follow the recipe all the way through step 4. Cover pre-shaped buns and refrigerate overnight. Remove them from the fridge and allow them to sit at room temperature for about 1h 30 minutes- 2 hours before baking.
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Blueberry Hot Cross Buns
- large baking tray
- baking paper
- Freestanding mixer with hook attachment or hand mixer with dough hook attachment (optional)
- piping bag with plain nozzle (or without nozzle)
- large bowl
- pastry brush
- 2 tsp dried yeast *see notes for options
- 110 g caster/ fine sugar
- 100 g unsalted butter melted and cooled
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp ground mixed spice
- 500 g strong white bread flour
- 2 medium lemons zest only
- 150 g blueberries fresh or frozen
- 40 g mixed fruit peel
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp olive oil for greasing the bowl
For the glaze & topping:
- 50 g plain flour
- 50 ml water
- 2 Tbsp apricot jam
- 2 Tbsp water
For the crumble topping (optional):
- 30 g flour strong bread flour or plain flour
- 20 g chilled, unsalted butter chopped
- 1 Tbsp caster sugar
- Combine the yeast and sugar with 275ml of warm water and set aside for 10 minutes, until frothy. Put the melted butter and 1 egg in a bowl and whisk to combine.
- In a bowl of a freestanding or hand held electric mixer, place the ground cinnamon, ground mixed spice and flour and mix to combine. Add yeast and butter mixtures, lemon zest, blueberries, fruit peel and salt. Mix on low speed for about 8-10 minutes, or until the dough becomes smooth and slightly elastic and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. The dough will be slightly on a shaggy side.
- Transfer the dough into a large, lightly greased bowl, cover and set aside to rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until it has doubled in size. Meanwhile, line the large baking tray with baking paper and set aside.
- Gently knock down the air from the dough and transfer it onto a lightly floured surface. Divide it into 12 equal pieces (You can use kitchen scales to be precise and weigh the dough. My dough weighted about 1175g in total, so each bun was about 98g in weight). Use the palm of your hand to roll each piece into a ball. Arrange the buns on the prepared baking tray, spacing the buns 1 cm apart. Cover, and set aside in a warm place to prove for 30 minutes.
- If using crumble topping, simply rub all of the ingredients together with your fingertips until their texture resembles that of coarse breadcrumbs. Chill until required.
- Heat the oven to 180C (160 C fan). Prepare the cross mixture by mixing flour and water together, until you have a thick paste. Don't be tempted to add more water to it, it should be thick. Transfer the mixture into a piping bag fitted with small, plain nozzle (mine was 3mm).
- Beat the remaining egg and brush the buns with it. Pipe the cross pattern on top of the buns. If using the crumble topping, sprinkle it on top of the buns.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven.
- Prepare the glaze. Mix the apricot jam with water and add to a small saucepan. Cook it on a low heat for 1- 2 minutes, just to warm it up. Brush the warm buns with apricot jam.
- depending on the type of yeast you are using, you may have to activate it first. I'm using dried yeast, which requires dissolving in liquid before using it. If you are using instant yeast, you can add it straight to your dry ingredients.
- it is much easier to make this recipe with freestanding or electric mixer, however, you can also do it by hand, it will just take longer.
- if you find the dough to be on a sticky side, lightly grease your hands with olive oil or vegetable oil before shaping the buns into balls
- for the cross pattern, it is easier to pipe a line along each row in one direction, then the other (instead of piping individual cross on each bun)
- pipe the cross pattern slowly, so the paste 'hugs' the curves of each bun
- to make ahead, prepare the dough up to step 3, transfer it to a clean bowl, cover it and place in the fridge overnight to prove. Remove the dough from the fridge and allow it to rise for 2 hours at room temperature, then proceed to step 4
- it's also possible to allow the shaped buns to prove in the fridge overnight. Follow the recipe all the way through step 4. Cover pre-shaped buns and refrigerate overnight. Remove them from the fridge and allow them to sit at room temperature for about 1h 30 minutes- 2 hours before baking
- any leftover buns can be covered tightly and stored at room temperature for 1-2 days. To re-heat the buns, simply pop it into toaster for a couple of minutes. They taste delicious toasted with some butter, honey or jam on top of them
Questions? Talk to me in the comments section!
This recipe was adapted from Delicious.