These soft and fluffy blueberry hot cross buns are full of aromatic spices, sweet and juicy blueberries and candied fruit peel. Each bun is topped with an iconic cross, glazed with apricot jam and sprinkled with (optional) crumble for a delicious, 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!
Just like my Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns, this recipe is perfect to enjoy around Easter holidays. Hot cross buns are perfect for sharing and would make a splendid addition to any breakfast or brunch.
Ingredients and substitutes
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 - I like to use fast action dried yeast, but any type of yeast will work. See below for some handy tips about yeast.
- Caster sugar - Caster sugar is always my go-to, because it's super-fine texture dissolves much quicker, but you can use just a regular, granulated sugar too.
- Butter - Salted or unsalted butter is fine to use.
- Milk - Full fat milk will always work best in dough- based recipes, but feel free to use any type of milk.
- Egg - One large egg.
- 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 quantity.
- Lemons - You will need zest only. Try to use unwaxed lemons if possible. If no lemons are available, you can also use orange zest instead.
- 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.
Types of yeast
There are three main baking types of yeast:
- Fresh (compressed yeast) - A creamy-coloured block that needs to be kept in the fridge and is best used within a few days. It needs to be 'activated' first, by blending it with some water or milk and added with the wet ingredients.
- Active dried - A dried, granulated form of yeast that you can keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a year. Blend it with a little water or milk and add it with the wet ingredients.
- Instant dried (easy blend, easy bake or fast action) - This is a powdered dried yeast, often sold in sachets or 'envelopes'. It can be added directly to the dry ingredients without the need to activate it first in liquid.
Remember that rising times may vary, depending on the type of yeast used.
Hint: When substituting one type of yeast for another, the general rules to remember are: use half as much dried as fresh yeast, and half as much again of instant yeast- for example instead of 30g fresh, use 15g active dried or 7g instant yeast.
It's much easier and quicker to use freestanding mixer to make these blueberry hot cross buns, and it is my preferred method. However, it is also possible to prepare the dough by hand.
- Mix the ingredients for the dough. Depending on the type of yeast, you may have to activate it first.
- 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 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.
- 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 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
- Brush with warm apricot jam or sugar syrup.
How to pipe the cross pattern
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.
Hint: 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.
Hot cross buns are super easy to customise and you can use different ingredients and flavours to upgrade them. Here are few ideas for you:
- Chocolate orange - Swap the blueberries for chocolate chips and use orange zest instead of lemon.
- Fruit and marzipan - Skip the fruit peel, and use dried cranberries and raisins instead. Add 100g of grated marzipan and knead it into the dough. Marzipan adds lovely sweet flavour and delicate aroma to the buns!
- Add some nuts - You can finely chop some walnuts or pecans and add them instead of the fruit peel.
- Vegan buns - For a vegan version, check out these Vegan Hot Cross Buns recipe from A Mummy Too blog.
Storing and reheating
Any leftover buns can be stored in the airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days. To reheat the buns, simply place them into toaster for a couple of minutes. They taste delicious toasted with some butter, honey or jam on top.
You could also reheat them in the oven. Heat the oven to 150°C (fan), place the buns onto a baking tray and cover them with kitchen foil. Heat for 5-10 minutes, then remove from the oven and serve.
Make ahead and freezing
Blueberry hot cross buns can be prepared ahead. You can prepare the dough through 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 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.
The hot cross buns can also be frozen. You can freeze baked or unbaked buns. To freeze baked buns, allow them to cool completely, then transfer to freezer friendly bag or container. Thaw them at room temperature for about 2 hours, then reheat as per the instructions.
Unbaked buns should be first frozen on the baking tray, then transferred into freezer friendly bag or container. When ready to use, remove from the freezer into greased baking tray and allow them to sit and rise at room temperature for about 3-5 hours, then bake as per the recipe instructions.
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Blueberry Hot Cross Buns
- Freestanding mixer with hook attachment
- large baking tray
- baking paper
- large bowl
- piping bag with plain nozzle (or without nozzle)
- pastry brush optional
- 280 ml full fat milk
- 50 g unsalted butter
- 1 large egg
- 500 g strong white bread flour
- 70 g caster sugar
- 7 g fast action dried yeast *see notes for options
- 2 teaspoon ground mixed spice
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 medium lemons zest only
- 100 g blueberries fresh or frozen
- 40 g mixed fruit peel
- 2 teaspoon olive oil for greasing the bowl
For the glaze & topping:
- 50 g plain flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoon apricot jam
For the crumble topping (optional):
- 30 g flour strong bread flour or plain flour
- 20 g chilled, unsalted butter chopped
- 1 tablespoon caster sugar
- Place the milk in a saucepan over the low heat and warm it up (do not boil). Add the butter, and allow it to melt (swirl the saucepan from time to time to encourage butter to melt quicker). Set the mixture aside until it is lukewarm. Add an egg and whisk to combine.
- Put the flour, sugar, yeast, spices, salt, lemon zest and mixed fruit peel in a bowl of a standing mixer. Start mixing it on low for a couple of minutes, to bring the dough together. Increase the speed and continue to mix for 4-5 more minutes, or until you have smooth, elastic dough that no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. Add the blueberries and mix on low until they are evenly combined.
- 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 (use kitchen scales to be precise and weigh the dough). 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 20-30 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 180°C (160°C fan). Prepare the cross mixture by mixing flour and water together, until you have a thick, but still slightly runny paste. Transfer the mixture into a piping bag. Pipe the cross pattern on top of the buns. If using the crumble topping, sprinkle it on top of the buns. Bake the buns for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
- Prepare the glaze by gently heating up 2-3 tablespoon of apricot jam with 2 tablespoon of water. Brush the warm buns with the glaze. Enjoy!
Please note that all my recipes are developed and tested in metric grams. I recommend that you use digital scales for a more accurate results. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.
- You can use any type of active yeast in this recipe. Just remember that proving times may vary for different types of yeast. Check my 'Types of yeast' section of this blog post for some helpful tips.
- For the cross pattern, it is easier to pipe a line along each row in one direction, then the other (instead of piping individual crosses on each of the buns).
- To make ahead, prepare the dough through 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 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.
This recipe was originally published in March 2021. It has been updated with revised recipe and tips in April 2022.