Nice Buns…

For the last couple of years I’ve tried to get too fancy-schmantzy with my Hot Cross Bun recipes… I think it was last year that I tried getting all jiggy with Pedro Ximénez-soaked raisins with spiced apple and as much as they were OK (if not a tad brick-like); they are still in the freezer, which I guess is an indication that they weren’t all that popular. In fact I think I’ll throw them out right now…

… OK. Done. So this year it was time to go back to basics. Right on cue, along comes Essjay. Last night, she was tweeting that she was making some traditional and vegan Hot Cross Buns. My plea for her to make me some went deliberately unnoticed, so with a slight hangover and being cheated out of an extra hour’s sleep thanks to daylight savings ending (bloody kids), I decided that I’d give SJ’s recipe a go.

Essjay’s Traditional Hot Cross Buns

  • 14 g instant dried yeast (two sachets) (or 30g fresh compressed yeast)
  • 500 g (4 cups) plain soft flour (not bread flour, just standard plain flour)
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons mixed spice
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 40 g butter
  • 1 egg
  • 100 g currants
  • 50 g mixed peel
  • 20g diced citron, if available
  • some grated citrus rind (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Paste for Crosses

  • 30 grams plain flour
  • ¼ teaspoon caster sugar


  • 1½ teaspoons caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon gelatine

In a Pyrex jug, I mixed the yeast with 2 teaspoons of flour (from the measured flour) and 1 teaspoon of caster sugar (from the measured sugar) with 125 ml of warm water. SJ specified 37 degrees Celsius, so I got out my trusty digital probe thermometer thingy and made sure the temperature was bang on. I left this on the window sill, which seemed warm enough for the mixture to get all frothy. In fact it wasn’t until Kate alerted me to the fact that it had started to escape from the jug was proceeding to run down the wall. At least my yeast was alive and kicking.

I was then required to sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attached. I didn’t sift my mixture because that seemed like hard work, as well as creating more dishes to wash afterwards, so I just dumped it into the mixing bowl. I then stirred in the sugar, the fruit and citrus peels. I didn’t have any citron either, so I upped the mixed peel by 20 grams. I also added more currants (around another 30 grams) because I like lots of fruit in my bun. The dry mix was combined with the dough hook for a few seconds to get the fruit coated all over with the flour.

The next step was to mix the spices with the softened butter to form a paste. I decided to skip that as it seemed like hard work, so I just added the spices to the flour and melted the butter in the microwave.

With my trusty Kitchenaid on a low setting of 2, I added the remaining wet ingredients; yeast goo, egg, butter and gradually added 130ml of warm water until the dough was soft and sticky. This took around 5 minutes.

So far so good. I was a little panicky there for a while, but then the Panadol kicked in and I finally got around to making myself a coffee. 

I scraped the mixture into oiled bowl, covered with cling wrap and placed it on the freshly cleaned window sill for an hour, which gave me time to wash last night’s dinner dishes, this morning’s dishes, pick up all of the currants that my one-year old daughter was squishing into the floor and play my turn for Dice with Buddies. 

Once the dough had nicely risen to around double its initial size, I turned the dough out and gave it a half-arsed knead. It’s meant to be until it becomes smooth. It was pretty close. 

I then pedantically measured my dough into precise 84gram balls to ensure I had twelve evenly sized buns. Our small Scanpan roasting tray looked close enough to the dimensions of a 19cm x 23cm square baking tin.

Covering my little babies with a tea towel, I left them for around 45 minutes until they had nearly doubled in size. Whilst this was happening, I mixed the flour and sugar for the cross mixture with 50mls of water and spooned the mixture into one of those disposable piping bags, ready for later on.


With the oven preheated to its highest setting, I piped on my crosses and judiciously followed SJ’s instructions to sprinkle the inside of the oven with water and immediately turned it down to 200ºC (195ºC fan -forced) for my buns to bake for 20 minutes. This gave me some time to clean the floor because most of the water leaked out of the oven.

Just before the 20 minutes was up, I made the glaze by heating the gelatine, sugar and two tablespoons of water until dissolved and brushed the hot buns with the glaze as soon as they came out of the oven.

I know I’m not going to win any awards for aesthetics. Ideally, I should have spaced my buns out a little more, but they broke away into their individual buns quite easily. And I think my cross mixture was a little too runny. Taste wise, they weren’t as sweet than I was expecting, but I liked it. Also, I would probably add a little more mixed spice next time.

As for texture, this recipe has produced the lightest, fluffiest bread or bun I have EVER made. Particularly given me and baking don’t get along too well, if I can have this much success with a hangover and lack of sleep, imagine how well you’ll fare.


3 thoughts on “Nice Buns…”

  1. Hah! You’ve seen through my cunning plans! I don’t actually sift either – I just bung the Kitchenaid bowl on the scales and throw stuff in. And I was using frozen Naomi’s butter yesterday I too melted it with the spices. It’s just the being mixed with fat that makes them mix in smoothly. How did the dough stand up to the extra fruit?

    And I don’t think they are too close together at all – mine look the same.

    Would you believe that there is almost three times as much spice in that recipe as any others I started with (I’m a spice fiend too!) – but what the hey – add more!

    Is the right time to mention that making 2 batches one after the other is only about 20% more work? (yep another 2 dozen in my oven right now)

    Thanks for recipe testing.


    1. The % of fruit in your recipe is far less than in some of my former attemps. I reckon the dough could take another 50g, at least.

      Nup, 20% more work is too much for me today. I stupidly promised i’d play face painting with the kids, so I’m psyching myself up for that. There will be NO pics.

  2. They look great!! Job well done.
    The bakery I’m buying mine from at the moment uses toasted hazelnuts and has no peel. Yummo!!

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