I have made hot cross buns many times in the past before, only during the Easter season, and have been using the King Arthur Flour’s “Easy Hot Cross Buns” recipe.  I had several issues with this recipe which somehow didn’t work for me. For instance the white cross over the buns made with icing sugar melted quickly when the ambient temperatures went up and invariably, especially on the following morning, they appear as a  sticky mess. I also didn’t like the use of baking powder that the recipe calls for and the fact that sugar is used. So I began to search for other recipes, and found Jamie Oliver’s “Chocolate Hot Cross Buns”. This is different, and not the classical HC buns sold in the shops. I learned, however, how to make the white crosses from here and am very happy with the method. Thank you Jamie!

Dr Doughlittle | Ingredients

Get your ingredients all ready.

1/4 cup dark rum
1/2 cup dried mix fruit
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 cup milk (plus a little more if needed).
2 whole eggs plus 1 egg yolk. (Save the white of this egg for topping)
​65g unsalted melted butter

Egg white from one egg.
​1 Tbs milk

Dr Doughlittle | Ingredients

Use the best quality ingredients.

2 tsp instant yeast (or 1sachet 11g).
2 Tbs honey
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves or Allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp sea salt
4 cups (500g) Unbleached All Purpose flour. (Plus more for dusting).

Cross decoration: (The vanilla essence is my addition.)
2 Tbs flour with enough water to make into a batter.
​1/4 tsp vanilla essence.

Dr Doughlittle | Baking Hot Cross Buns

Mix till you get a smooth dough

Dr Doughlittle | Making Hot Cross Buns

The rum soaked fruits & raisins

Dr Doughlittle | Making Hot Cross Buns

Proofing after the 1st folding.


​1. Soak the dried fruits and golden raisins in the dark rum. I found that doing this two nights before you bake, and shaking the rum raisin mixture periodically, allows the fruit and raisins to totally absorb the rum. They turn out very juicy and crunchy in the buns.

2. On the day of the bake, mix the flour; eggs; dried yeast; butter; honey; cinnamon; All spice and nutmeg into a Kitchen Aid bowl, and thoroughly mix these up, adding the milk slowly till you get the right consistency. You may need a little more than one cup. Add the sea salt last. This should take about 10 minutes.

3.  Add the rum raisin mixture and mix the dough again for a couple of minutes with the Kitchen Aid; then take the dough out and stretch and fold the dough a few times on a floured silicone mat. Shape this into a ball and let it proof for 1/2 hour in a lightly oiled bowl. After this, stretch and fold again about a dozen times, and return the dough into the bowl to proof another 1/2 hour.

Dr Doughlittle | Making Hot Cross Buns

Arrange the shaped balls evenly on the tray.

Dr Doughlittle | Making Hot Cross Buns

The piping for the crosses.

4. Do a final gentle stretching and folding of the dough after 1/2 hour, and divide the dough into equal parts by weight and shape each into 12 balls. Place the rounded dough balls on to a well oiled baking pan measuring about 12 x 18 inches. To do the division, I weight the total dough, then divide this by 12, and then cut the dough into the required size by weight. It will look better if all the buns are of almost equal size. Shape them and place them carefully on the baking tray with equal spaces in between them so that when they rise, they will neatly touch each other.

Dr Doughlittle | Making Hot Cross Buns

Nice oven rise . The crosses will stand out from the darkening crust, fusing onto the dough balls

5. Proof the shaped dough balls further for another 1/2 hour. During this time fire up the oven to 180˚C. When the dough balls have risen, coat them gently with the egg white and milk mixture. This is followed by piping the white crosses on the buns. To pipe the crosses, start with the top bun piping all the way down over the buns to the bottom edge of the last bun on the tray. Do this up to down piping for all the vertical rows, then turn the tray 90˚, and complete the crosses doing the same from top going down. You’re then ready to place the tray into the oven to bake for 20 minutes till they are evenly brown. If some buns are getting brown faster then the others, use an aluminium sheet to tent these to avoid burning and a bitter taste to the crust. When ready, remove the tray from the oven and set this on a metal rack to cool before enjoying these soft, moist, aromatic and flavourful buns!

Dr Doughlittle | Hot Cross Buns

The final product. Note the crosses fused onto the crust. No mess and they do not rub off.

The HC Buns using King Arthur’s Flour “Easy Hot Cross Buns” recipe. The icing crosses applied when the buns have cooled down even then melts at room temperature here, creating a sticky mess! May work in colder climates, not in the tropics! The crust also tends to be darker as lots of sugar is used. Their baking time is too long, the crumb gets dry. I don’t use baking powder. With less fluids, the dough is easier to handle.

“I judge a restaurant by the bread and by the coffee.”

– Burt Lancaster –


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