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Easter Hot Cross Buns

Easter Hot Cross Buns

Adapted from Chelsea Winter’s recipe. This recipe is definitely a labour of love but please don’t be put off by all the different ‘lists’ and steps. These are a once a year treat and they are the best homemade hot cross buns we tried for many a year – and, unfortunately, the Milly’s team have been eating far too many of them!


1 ½ cups raisins, sultanas, chopped apricots or a mixture
Zest and juice of 2 oranges

175g high grade white flour
1 ½ cups milk
2 tbsp sugar
3 tsp active dried yeast (check expiry date)

420g high grade white flour
3 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp salt
50g chilled butter
‘Starter’ (see recipe above)
1 free-range egg, lightly beaten

75g sugar
1/3 cup just-boiled water

70g cup flour
1 tbsp sugar
½ tsp baking powder
1/3 cup cold water


Place the fruit in a small bowl. Heat the juice and zest in a small saucepan and pour over the fruit then seal/cover and leave for a minimum of an hour, maximum of 12.

Sift the flour into a medium sized mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. In a small saucepan, heat the milk to 32C (blood temperature) then add the sugar and yeast and stir gently for 20 seconds until combined. Pour the milk/yeast/sugar mixture into the flour and stir to combine evenly. Cover with cling film touching the surface of the starter then leave in a warm, draft-free place until it doubled in size.

In large bowl sift the flour, brown sugar, spices and salt. Once your starter has doubled in size, combine it with this flour mixture plus the chopped butter and egg. Stir to combine and to bring it all together into a rough dough.

Tip the dough out onto a clean surface and begin kneading – it will feel very sticky at first. You can lighty dust your hands with a little flour if it’s too sticky but don’t be tempted to add too much flour as this can result in tough, dry buns. Knead for 10 minutes – the finished dough should be satiny smooth and stretchy.
Stand Mixer method: Put your dough into your stand mixer with the dough hook, mix on low setting for 5 minutes, finishing with a minute or two by hand.

Leave dough for 10 minutes to relax before adding the fruit. Strain the fruit and tip onto the bench. Tip the rested dough out on top of the fruit and knead to combine for another minute or so. It will feel slippery at first then eventually come back together.
Stand Mixer method: Add strained fruit to your dough and mix with dough hook for a few mins on low speed (again, until well combined).
Put the dough back into a clean, dry mixing bowl and cover with cling film, so it is touching the dough, then leave somewhere draft-free for 1-2hrs or until it doubles in size.

Once risen, lightly flour your baking tray (we used our Le Creuset TNS Baking sheet 31x31 which was the perfect size for this batch). Gently push the dough down in the bowl with your fist, to knock all the air out, then measure (ideally with kitchen scales) into 16 evenly sized balls. Roll each dough ball firmly and place on your baking tray 1-2cm apart. Cover loosely with lightly oiled cling film and sit in a warm place until they double in size.

Once buns are getting close to doubled in size, preheat your oven to 180C regular bake (not fan). Mix ‘cross’ ingredients in a small bowl with a fork to form a paste then fill a piping bag fitted with a small round nozzle. Pipe thin crosses on top of each bun (we like these diagonal crosses). Bake for about 20 minutes – or until deep golden brown all over.

While the buns are cooking, make your glaze by whisking the sugar with the water until dissolved. Brush on top of the buns as soon as they come out of the oven.

Milly’s Test Kitchen Tip: With the cooler weather starting, we often prove our dough by placing it into an unheated oven with a bowl of hot, just boiled water underneath the bowl. This is the perfect warm, steamy environment that dough loves and being in the oven it is protected from drafts etc.

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