Easter Bun Off

So its that time of year again where most people like to hunt out the best hot cross bun on offer. We decided this year to have a bit of a bake off and try three different hot cross bun recipes. We chose to make a traditional batch, a dark chocolate and orange batch and a sourdough batch and see which was best. All three turned out so well it was too hard to chose but it was fun having a go. Here are the recipes if you feel like making some yourself.

Batch 1 – Traditional


For the dough:

  • 450 g high grade flour
  • 1 cup – mixed sultanas, currants, dried cranberries and mixed peel (optional)
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 200ml cold milk
  • 100ml boiling water
  • 1 tbsp active dried yeast

For the crosses

  • 25 g butter melted
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 6 tbsp flour (or more if required to make correct piping consistency)
  • 1 egg

For the sugar glaze

  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 4 tbsp caster sugar


  1. Place butter in bowl and pour over boiling water to melt. Add cold milk and stir. Sprinkle over dried yeast and stir. Leave for 10min in a warm place to activate the yeast. Yeast bubbles should start to appear on the surface of the liquid.
  2. Measure out dry dough ingredients into a bowl. Pour over liquid, add dried fruit and stir until it comes together and forms a ball. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and kneed for up to 10min until smooth an elastic. If you find it too hard to kneed try resting the dough every 2-3 minutes for 30 seconds.
  3. Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and rotate the ball so it is coated in oil. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and place in a warm place until doubled in size. This can take 1 – 2 hours depending on the temperature.
  4. Once the dough has doubled in size, remove from bowl and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll out into a sausage shape and cut into 16 segments. Shape each segment into a ball by stretching the dough at the top and tucking underneath. Place balls onto a tray lined with baking paper 2-3cm apart. Leave until doubled in size.
  5. Heat over to 220 degrees celcius and make the crosses by combining the ingredients listed above and whisking together until smooth. Pipe crosses onto balls and bake for 5 mins at 200 degree celcius and a further 10 minutes at 180 degrees until golden.
  6. Make the glaze by bring the milk and sugar to the boil. Careful not to burn. Remove buns from oven once baked and brush with glaze while still hot. Leave to cool and enjoy!

Dark Chocolate and Orange (from Dean Brettschneider’s Global Baker Book – highly recommended book!)


  • 300g strong bread flour
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 5g salt
  • 25g butter
  • 25g sugar
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 5g active dried yeast
  • 1 small egg – weighing no more than 50g when cracked
  • 150ml water
  • 140g chocolate chips – kept cold in the refrigerator
  • additional flour for dusting

Makes 12 Hot X Buns

1. Place all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl, except the chocolate chips, then using a wooden spoon combine the ingredients together until a dough mass has formed.

2. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 – 15 minutes (taking a rest period of 30 seconds, every 2 – 3 minutes) until the dough is smooth and elastic in feel. This will take a while as the dough will be sticky to the touch, but don’t be tempted to add any excessive amounts of flour during the kneading process, a little will be okay, but please persevere with the softness. Finally add the cold chocolate chips and continue to very gently knead until they become incorporated into the dough.

3. Lightly oil a bowl large enough to allow the dough to double in bulk, then put the dough in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave in a warmish place (23 – 25ºC) for 45 – 60 minutes.

4. Gently knock back the dough in the bowl by gently folding it back onto its self. It will deflate it slightly, but will develop more strength. Cover again with plastic wrap and leave for 30 minutes.

5. Next tip the tip the dough onto a lightly floured bench and divide into 12 equal pieces, approximately 60g each, roll each into a small ball or bun shape. Place onto a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper so that the buns will rise together when proofing (approximately 2cm apart) and cover with a sheet of plastic and allow to proof (rise) for approximately 30 – 45 minutes, depending on the room temperature.

6. Place the crossing mixture* into a piping bag fitted with a 3mm plain pipping nozzle and pipe crosses onto the buns.

7. Place into a preheated oven set at 180 – 190ºC and bake for approximately 15 – 18 minutes or until golden brown in colour. In the meantime prepare the sugar glaze** ready for brushing on after baking.

Remove from the oven and brush with the sugar glaze to achieve a shiny surface, and then allow to cool completely.

*Crossing Mixture

  • 150g plain flour
  • 50g vegetable oil
  • 150ml water

Place the flour and oil into a bowl and using whisk slowly mix whilst adding the water. Whisk until a smooth and lump free paste is formed. Cover with plastic wrap until required.

**Sugar Glaze

  • 100ml water
  • 40g sugar
  • zest of one orange

Simply put all ingredients into a small saucepan and heat until boiling, remove from the heat and set aside to use once the buns are baked. Alternatively you can boil the mixture in the microwave.

Sourdough buns

Follow recipe for Feijoa Sourdough, omitting the feijoa and used dried fruit soak instead (unless you want feijoa hot cross buns). When it comes to shaping the dough for baking form following the instructions for the traditional hot cross buns above. When making ours, rather than making crosses we cut a cross shape into the buns. We feel that a proper make cross like above would have worked better though. You will need to add 10 minutes to the final cooking time.

Fruit soak

  • 150g raisins
  • 50g currants
  • 30g mixed peel
  • 140ml water

Combine the fruit and water, and soak overnight. Add the fruit to the dough after the initial kneeding.

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