Spiced Hot Cross Buns with Orange Zest

by meike peters


My first Hot Cross Bun baking experience lies way back in the past and it wasn’t very successful – one morning I managed to destroy two doughs in a row. The water I used was a bit too warm and knocked out the yeast. I was so desperate that I even baked the buns from the second batch of dough but it was hopeless. I could have used the buns as cannon balls, they were as hard as a rock and impossible to eat. I needed a few years to recover from this experience but now I’m totally at peace with them again.

Hot Cross Buns are traditional Easter buns but to me they are a great treat for a big weekend breakfast or brunch all year round. They are made with lots of aromatic spices such as cinnamon, coriander, allspice, nutmeg, ginger and cloves and I also add lots of orange zest and raisins. Spices ground in a mortar unfold their entire range of aromas, I find them stronger and without the artificial touch which industrial mixtures tend to have. These buns are complex in their taste and the texture is nice and fluffy. I love to tear them with my fingers when they are freshly out of the oven and spread some butter on them, or my homemade plum jam with lots of cinnamon. I even ate one bun with liver paté, both sweet and aromatic, they make a perfect match.

Traditionally, Hot Cross Buns were eaten during Lent, always marked with a cross standing for the Crucifixion. Besides the religious connections there are further meanings passed on, sharing a bun with someone else is supposed to ensure friendships and each bite should bring good health.

Hot Cross Buns


Hot Cross Buns

 Hot Cross Buns

For 10 buns you need

For the dough

plain flour 500g / 1 pound
dry yeast, 1 package for 500g / 1 pound of flour
sugar 60g / 2 ounces
salt 1 teaspoon
ground cinnamon 2 1/2 teaspoons
2 1/2 heaped teaspoons of ground mixed spice or a spice mixture made of:
coriander, ground in a mortar, 1/2 teaspoon
allspice, ground in a mortar, 7
cloves, ground in a mortar, 5
nutmeg, grated, 1/4 teaspoon
fresh ginger, grated, 1 teaspoon
zest of 1 orange
butter, melted, 60g / 2 ounces
milk, lukewarm, 190ml
organic egg 1
raisins, soaked in warm water for 4 minutes, 100g / 3.5 ounces

For the cross paste

plain flour 4 tablespoons
milk 3-4 tablespoons
vegetable oil 2 teaspoons

For the glaze

milk 5 tablespoons
icing sugar 5 tablespoons

For the dough, combine the dry ingredients (including spices and orange zest). Mix the hot melted butter with the cold milk and the egg, this way the liquid mixture will have the right lukewarm temperature (check with a finger). Mix the dry and the liquid mixture with your dough hooks for 5 minutes until well combined. Continue kneading with your hands for a few minutes until you have an elastic dough ball. Mix the raisins into the dough and put it back into the bowl, cover with a tea towel. Let the dough rise in a 35°C / 95°F warm oven for 70 minutes. This works really well but make sure that your oven is set to top/ bottom heat and not to fan.

Take the dough out, punch it down and knead for 1 minute. Divide into 10 pieces and roll into balls. Put them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and let them rise for 30 minutes, covered with a tea towel, in a warm place.

Set your oven to 200°C / 390°F.

For the cross paste, mix the flour, milk and oil with a spoon. For the glaze, cook the icing sugar together with the milk in a sauce pan for 5 minutes on medium heat until bubbly and syrupy.

Cut a cross into the surface of each bun, wet your fingers and form slim rolls with the cross paste mixture. Lay the rolls into the crossed slits on top of each bun, wet your fingers in between. Bake the buns for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Glaze with the sweet syrup immediately. If the glaze is too thick, add a little water before you brush the tops of the buns.

Hot Cross Buns


Hot Cross Buns