How to make the best ever hot cross buns

Living Well | RACV | Posted on 24 March 2021

Make hot cross buns at home with this deliciously easy recipe from Le Petit Gateau. 

Is it even Easter if you don't devour close to your own weight in hot cross buns? Whether you're a traditional fruit-filled bun lover or prefer yours choc'd and loaded, there's nothing quite like a toasty, gently spiced baked treat, slathered in butter, to evoke the warm fuzzy feeling of Easter celebrations with family and friends. 

Le Petit Gateau hot cross buns


The hot cross bun is believed to date back to ancient civilisations, including the Saxons, who ate buns marked with a cross in honour of Eostre, the goddess of spring and namesake of Easter. However, the modern recipe we recognise today is attributed to a 14th-century monk, Brother Thomas Rodcliffe of St Albans Abbey, who mixed cinnamon into his yeast buns and delivered them to the poor on Good Friday. 

The so-called Alban buns quickly grew in popularity around England and became closely associated with Easter. By the 16th century, they were considered so holy that Queen Elizabeth passed a law permitting them to be sold only at Easter, Christmas and burials. 

These days, of course, hot cross buns begin appearing in supermarkets as early as January and linger long after the last chocolate eggs have been eaten. But for a special treat just for Easter, nothing beats a home-baked bun. And to inspire you to get baking, we asked the master pastry chefs at RACV's Le Petit Gateau to share their special recipe. 

How to make Le Petit Gateau’s hot cross buns

Makes: 30

Time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

Dough

  • 615 g (5½ cups) baker’s flour
  • 65 g (½ cup) sugar
  • 8 g (2 tsp) cinnamon
  • 4 g (1 tsp) nutmeg
  • 13 g (2¼ tsp) salt
  • 26 g (1½ tbsp) dry yeast 
  • 315 ml water
  • 200 g (1 cup) diced mixed dried fruit*
  • 50 ml vegetable oil, to oil bowl

Cross mixture

  • 110 g (1 cup) baker’s flour
  • 50 ml water

Glaze

  • 50 g (¼ cup) caster sugar
  • 50 ml water

Method

  1. Combine flour, sugar, spices and salt in a large bowl. Mix together. Add yeast to water and mix together with a whisk. Pour yeast and water mix into bowl. Use a wooden spoon to mix until dough almost comes together. Use clean hands to finish mixing in the bowl to form a soft dough.
  2. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead for 10 minutes, or until dough is smooth. Add either the fruit or the chocolate chips to the dough and knead until combined. Place into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 1 to 1.5 hours, or until dough doubles in size.
  3. Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Punch dough down to its original size. Knead for 30 seconds on a lightly floured surface until smooth. 
  4. Divide into 25 even portions (65 grams each). Shape each portion into a ball. Place balls onto lined tray, about 1 centimetre apart. Cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 30 minutes, or until buns double in size. Preheat oven to 190°C or 170˚C fan-force.
  5. Make the cross mixture: Mix flour and water together in a small bowl to make a smooth paste, adding a little more water if paste is too thick. Spoon into a small snap-lock bag. Snip off a corner of the bag. Pipe flour paste over tops of buns to form crosses. 
  6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until buns are cooked through.
  7. Make glaze: Place water and sugar into a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil. Boil for 1 minute. Brush warm glaze over warm hot cross buns. Serve warm or at room temperature.

*Notes:

  • If you don’t like mixed dried fruit, you can substitute for 200 grams sultanas or 150 grams chocolate chips.
  • The volume of flour or sugar per cup can vary by brand, quality and even room temperature. Where possible, RACV City Club executive pastry chef Josh Cochrane says using weight measurements instead of cup and spoon conversions will provide much more accurate cooking results.