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More Nigella recipes

Hot Cross Buns

by . Featured in FEAST
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Introduction

I make my hot cross buns slightly smaller than is traditional. Don't know why, just like them that way, but you form them the size you want, please. Just one thing I must be strict about: you do need to use proper bread flour here, not the usual plain. There's no point to all this effort and ruining your chances of success over such a small but significant point.

By effort, I don't mean you need to be hugely active or expert to make these; you just need the patience to sit around while they rise and the faith to believe they will. Very appropriate.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

I make my hot cross buns slightly smaller than is traditional. Don't know why, just like them that way, but you form them the size you want, please. Just one thing I must be strict about: you do need to use proper bread flour here, not the usual plain. There's no point to all this effort and ruining your chances of success over such a small but significant point.

By effort, I don't mean you need to be hugely active or expert to make these; you just need the patience to sit around while they rise and the faith to believe they will. Very appropriate.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

Hot Cross Buns
Photo by James Merrell

Ingredients

Makes: 16 hot cross buns

Metric Cups

For the Dough

  • 150 millilitres milk
  • 50 grams butter
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1 clove
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 400 grams strong white bread flour
  • 1 x 7 grams packet easy-blend yeast
  • 125 grams mixed dried fruit
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 large egg

For the Egg Wash

  • 1 large egg (beaten with a little milk)

For the Cross on the Buns

  • 3 tablespoons plain flour
  • ½ tablespoon caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water

For the Sugar Glaze

  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon boiling water

For the Dough

  • ⅔ cup milk
  • ½ stick butter
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1 clove
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 3 cups strong white bread flour
  • ¼ ounce packet instant yeast
  • ¾ cup mixed dried fruit
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 large egg

For the Egg Wash

  • 1 large egg (beaten with a little milk)

For the Cross on the Buns

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ tablespoon superfine sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water

For the Sugar Glaze

  • 1 tablespoon superfine sugar
  • 1 tablespoon boiling water

Method

  1. Heat the milk, butter, orange zest, clove and cardamom pods in a saucepan until the butter melts, then leave to infuse. I have gone rather cardamom mad recently, but this short aromatic infusion gives a heavenly scent to the little fruited buns later.
  2. Measure the flour, yeast and dried fruit into a bowl and add the spices. When the infused milk has reached blood temperature take out the clove and cardamom pods, and beat in the egg. Pour this liquid into the bowl of dry ingredients.
  3. Knead the bowl either by hand or with a machine with a dough hook; if it is too dry add a little more warm milk or water. Keep kneading until you have silky, elastic dough, but bear in mind that the dried fruit will stop this from being exactly satin smooth.
  4. Form into a ball and place in a buttered bowl covered with clingfilm, and leave to prove overnight in the fridge.
  5. Preheat the oven to gas mark 7/220ºC/200ºC Fan/425ºF. Take the dough out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature.
  6. Punch the dough down, and knead it again until it is smooth and elastic. Divide into 16 balls and shape into smooth round buns. I wouldn't start worrying unduly about their size: just halve the dough, and keep halving it until it's in eight pieces, and use that piece to make two buns. Or just keep the dough as it is, and pinch off pieces slightly larger than a ping pong ball and hope you end up with 16 or thereabouts. Not that it matters.
  7. Sit the buns on a baking parchment or Bake-O-Glide-lined baking sheet. Make sure they are quite snug together but not touching. Using the back of an ordinary eating knife, score the tops of the buns with the imprint of a cross. Cover with a teatowel and leave to prove again for about 45 minutes - they should have risen and almost joined up.
  8. Brush the buns with an egg wash, and then mix the flour, sugar and water into a smooth, thick paste. Using a teaspoon, dribble two lines over the buns in the indent of the cross, and then bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
  9. When the hot cross buns come out of the oven, mix the sugar and boiling water together for the glaze, and brush each hot bun to make them sweet and shiny.
  1. Heat the milk, butter, orange zest, clove and cardamom pods in a saucepan until the butter melts, then leave to infuse. I have gone rather cardamom mad recently, but this short aromatic infusion gives a heavenly scent to the little fruited buns later.
  2. Measure the flour, yeast and dried fruit into a bowl and add the spices. When the infused milk has reached blood temperature take out the clove and cardamom pods, and beat in the egg. Pour this liquid into the bowl of dry ingredients.
  3. Knead the bowl either by hand or with a machine with a dough hook; if it is too dry add a little more warm milk or water. Keep kneading until you have silky, elastic dough, but bear in mind that the dried fruit will stop this from being exactly satin smooth.
  4. Form into a ball and place in a buttered bowl covered with clingfilm, and leave to prove overnight in the fridge.
  5. Preheat the oven to gas mark 7/220ºC/200ºC Fan/425ºF. Take the dough out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature.
  6. Punch the dough down, and knead it again until it is smooth and elastic. Divide into 16 balls and shape into smooth round buns. I wouldn't start worrying unduly about their size: just halve the dough, and keep halving it until it's in eight pieces, and use that piece to make two buns. Or just keep the dough as it is, and pinch off pieces slightly larger than a ping pong ball and hope you end up with 16 or thereabouts. Not that it matters.
  7. Sit the buns on a baking parchment or Bake-O-Glide-lined baking sheet. Make sure they are quite snug together but not touching. Using the back of an ordinary eating knife, score the tops of the buns with the imprint of a cross. Cover with a teatowel and leave to prove again for about 45 minutes - they should have risen and almost joined up.
  8. Brush the buns with an egg wash, and then mix the flour, sugar and water into a smooth, thick paste. Using a teaspoon, dribble two lines over the buns in the indent of the cross, and then bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
  9. When the hot cross buns come out of the oven, mix the sugar and boiling water together for the glaze, and brush each hot bun to make them sweet and shiny.

Tell us what you think

What 11 Others have said

  • Just made these this morning for Easter Sunday! Look and smell amazing. I used dried cranberries and dried blueberries soaked for a few hours in forest fruit tea to plump them up!

    Posted by Junabells on 12th April 2020
  • I don't like Hot Cross Buns, but these are nice because the recipe omits the candied peel which I just don't like. I use orange zest for extra flavour. Thanks a lot!

    Posted by JennyLH on 11th April 2020
  • I made these today, used 500g flour and had soaked the fruit overnight in cold tea and Cointreau, one and half 5ml teaspoon. yeast a dessert spoon of malt extract in the milk and all other quantities the same. Really wish I’d been organised to make night before and leave overnight but wasn’t! I got 14 buns out of this mixture. Lovely warm with butter for lunch. Will definitely make again.

    Posted by Mel22_ on 10th April 2020
  • Sorry, Ma'am. I had no bread flour and no hope of getting any in lockdown New Delhi. I added a teaspoon of flour improver to ordinary Indian maida. I had no oranges to hand so added a splash of orange juice to the milky buttery brew. Naturally it curdled horribly. Undeterred I carried on. I added a bit more spice considering my desi audience. I forgot the egg wash. I used golden syrup to glaze because I had some on the side left after melting a plastic jar of the solidified stuff in the microwave.

    They end result was astonishingly good. They did not puff up and hold the shape I'd have ideally liked but they were well, well worth the effort.

    Posted by Dws2711 on 10th April 2020
  • The buns should have an excellent flavour thanks to the orange peel, nutmeg,cinnamon, cardamom and clove BUT I found that the total absence of salt left them rather blah. I compared the recipe with some other bread recipes I have and for 400 gm of flour 1 to 1 1/4 tsp salt would probably be about right.

    Posted by Montrealmarnie on 9th April 2020
  • 10/10 would glaze again

    Posted by Sirish on 3rd April 2015
  • I made hot cross buns yesterday - for the first time ever. More a matter of necessity as I am living in Saudi Arabia. I loved making them and posted pics up step by step on Facebook. I LOVE your comment about the rising dough. I thought the same thing myself - it IS all a matter of faith.

    Posted by redrobyn on 28th March 2013
  • Despite making Marguerite Patten's Hot Cross Buns recipe for the past 30 years I decided to try Nigella's this year. Although I made a couple of mistakes, the results were still pretty good and I haven't stopped eating them - I'm not kidding - I've already had 5 for the day! The flavours are truly lovely! The mistakes I made were: 1. on kneading the dough the second time I left the entire thing to rise for 45 minutes as opposed to diving the dough into 16 and allowing to rise. 2. I forgot to baste the buns in egg wash :-( I also made a few changes that I think were worthwhile : 1. I added 50g of caster sugar and 1/2 tsp salt to the flour mix and 2. I added 50-100ml more milk than was specified as the dough was quite tough and dry 3. I set the oven to 190C as opposed to 220C and baked for 15 mins. Would I make them again? A resounding YES (with my changes).

    Posted by NattyDred on 30th March 2013
  • A gorgeous recipe, one I come back to every year because I love the infusion spices. But I find I need a lot more flour than specified ... maybe it's the weather here? This year I soaked the fruit in some tea, just because. I place all 16 buns in a 9-inch cake tin so they bump up nicely against each other.

    Posted by foongling on 28th March 2013
  • Impossible to get bread flour over here in this tropical Island so have to make do with All Purpose flour. Hope it works....... Arlene

    Posted by Seeni on 29th March 2013
  • your recipe looks like one that I could have success with and I will give it a try. Hot cross buns here I come!

    Posted by mayflower on 3rd April 2012
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