This is how to make the best hot cross buns this Easter

How to make the best hot cross buns this Easter (Photo: Shutterstock)How to make the best hot cross buns this Easter (Photo: Shutterstock)
How to make the best hot cross buns this Easter (Photo: Shutterstock)

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With the Easter weekend on the horizon, people across the UK are getting ready to celebrate with delicious hot cross buns.

And if life under lockdown has limited your trips to the supermarket, why not have a go at making your own this year?

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Here are three recipes for hot cross buns, whether you like them classic, vegan or gluten free.

Classic hot cross buns

This recipe is from Paul Hollywood, so you know they’re going to be the best traditional hot cross buns around.

Ingredients for the buns:

- 300ml full fat milk, plus an extra two tablespoons- 50g butter- 500g strong white flour- One teaspoon of salt- 75g of caster sugar- One tablespoon of sunflower oil- 7g sachet of fast action or easy blend yeast- One egg, beaten- 75g of sultanas- 50g of mixed peel- The zest of one orange- One apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped- One teaspoon of cinnamon

Ingredients for the cross:

- 75g plain flour- Five tablespoons of water

Finally, for the glaze you’ll need three tablespoons of apricot jam.

Method to make hot cross buns:

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To start making your buns, begin by bringing your milk to a boil and then remove it from the heat and add your butter. Leave to cool until it reaches room temperature.

In a separate bowl, add your bread flour, salt, caster sugar and yeast and mix together, making a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Pour the milk and butter mixture into the well, adding your beaten egg too.

Using a wooden spoon, mix everything together thoroughly, until it becomes a sticky dough. Tip your dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead with your hands for about five minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Lightly oil a bowl and place your dough inside and leave it to rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until it's doubled in size. You should cover your dough with well oiled cling film, this stops the dough from sticking or from forming a crust.

Once that’s happened, tip in the sultanas, mixed peel, orange zest, apple and cinnamon into the bowl and knead it all together, making sure everything is evenly distributed. Leave the dough to rise again for another hour, covering again with well oiled cling film.

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Next, divide your dough into 15 equal pieces and roll them into a smooth ball on a lightly floured surface. Arrange your buns on a lined baking tray, but make sure you’re leaving enough space for the dough to expand because you’re going to be leaving them to prove one more time for about an hour. Cover them with a clean tea towel or more oiled cling film, but don’t wrap them tightly.

Heat your oven to 220C/200C fan/gas mark seven. Whilst your dough is rising and your oven is heating, mix together your plain flour with about five tablespoons of water to make a paste, adding one tablespoon of water at a time. Spoon your mixture into a piping bag, or you can make a homemade piping bag by cutting the tip off the corner of a sandwich bag and pipe the paste onto the buns in a cross shape.

Bake for 20 minutes until nice and golden brown. Gently heat up three tablespoons of apricot jam until it's melted and then pass it through a sieve to get rid of any big chunks. Whilst the jam is still warm, brush over the top of your buns and then leave to cool.

Vegan hot cross buns

Just because you’re vegan doesn’t mean that you should be missing out on delicious hot cross buns this year.

Here’s how to make your own vegan version.

Ingredients for the buns:

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- 375g strong white flour- 175ml almond milk- 25g caster sugar- 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon- A half teaspoon of ground ginger- 7g of yeast- 75g of coconut oil, melted- 140g of dried mixed fruit- Zest of one lemon- One apple, peeled and grated

Ingredients for the crosses:

- 50g plain flour- Five tablespoons of cold water

Finally, for the glaze, you’ll need 50ml of warmed maple syrup.

Method to make vegan hot cross buns:

To make your buns, start by warming almond milk and sugar in a saucepan until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and let the almond milk and sugar mixture cool until it's warm, not hot, then add your yeast.

Leave the yeast for a few minutes to let it bloom - you’ll notice little bubbles when this happens, that means your yeast is still alive. If this doesn’t happen, your yeast might have expired and you’ll need to buy fresh yeast.

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In a large bowl, mix together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, mixed dried fruit, the grated apple and the lemon zest. Once that’s all incorporated, you can add the melted coconut oil and the yeast, sugar and almond milk mixture as well.

Mix this mixture together until a dough has formed and then turn it out onto a lightly floured surface to knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and stretchy.

You’ll then need to leave your dough to rise for one to two hours, until it's doubled in size. When the dough has risen, the next step is to knock the air out of the dough and knead again for a few more minutes.

Divide your dough into 12 equal sized balls and leave to rise again for about 20 minutes or until doubled in size - you should loosely cover them with some cling film.

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Preheat your oven to 220°C/200°C Fan/Gas Mark 7. While your oven is heating up, mix together your plain flour and water to make a paste and then pipe this paste in the shape of a cross on your buns.

Bake your buns for about 20 minutes, until nice and golden and they sound hollow when tapped on the base. Brush the buns with your warmed maple syrup to glaze and then leave to cool.

Gluten free hot cross buns

For those of us who can’t have gluten, the flour in hot cross buns means that they can’t usually enjoy the traditional Easter treat.

This is how to make your own gluten free hot cross buns.


- 300ml whole milk- An orange, zested- 50g unsalted butter- One beaten egg- One tablespoon of vegetable oil, plus a little extra- 500g gluten free bread flour blend- 80g caster sugar- Two 7g sachets of easy bake yeast- A half teaspoon of salt- One tablespoon plain gluten free flour- A half teaspoon of mixed spice- 100g dried fruit mix- 25g sweetened dried cranberries- One tablespoon mixed peel

And for your glaze you’ll need another beaten egg.

Method to make gluten-free hot cross buns:

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To make your buns, start by heating up your milk in a pan with the orange zest and butter - heat until bubbles begin to appear at the edges of the pan and then remove from the heat and leave until the butter has completely melted but the mixture itself has cooled.

In a separate bowl, beat together the egg and vegetable oil.

In a large bowl, mix together the remaining dry ingredients - the gluten free bread flour blend, sugar, salt, yeast, spice and dried fruit mixtures. Once the milk has cooled down a bit, pour it into the dried ingredients, along with the egg and oil mixture. Mix together and then divide into nine pieces.

Lightly oil your hands and then form them into nine balls, then place them together on a baking tray lined with nonstick baking paper. Cover them with a piece of oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for an hour, or until they’ve puffed up.

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Preheat your oven to gas mark six, 200C or 180C for fan ovens. Brush the buns with the other beaten egg and then mix together your plain gluten free flour with one tablespoon of water to make a paste.

Use a piping bag (or DIY sandwich bag) and pipe the paste in the shape of a cross on the buns. Bake them for about 25 minutes, until golden.

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