Lighter Hot Cross Buns

Hot cross buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday- the cross on top symbolic of the death of Jesus. Now I know Good Friday has been and gone but it's still Easter weekend so there's nothing stopping you from making these hot cross buns. If anything you could make these without the cross at any time of the year and it'll pretty much be a fruited teacake. And still beautiful toasted with lashings of butter and a light spread of jam. With a cup of tea. Don't forget the tea.

I think Easter is now my favourite time of year because it means 4 days off work. Plus the added bonus of food. And chocolate. A. Lot. Of. Chocolate. I've yet to dig into my Easter Egg but I can guarantee it'll be no challenge; last year I was bought a 1kg chocolate Lindt Bunny. Yeah. That was beast. I'd be lying if I told you I didn't eat most of it myself.

These hot cross buns are called Lighter Hot Cross Buns for a reason- 1. They're made using the Tangzhong (Water Roux method) and the bread stays soft and fluffy for days. See my post here where I've used Tangzhong. 2. They're only approximately 110 calories per hot cross bun and waaaay lower in fat than traditional ones (which I believe are usually around 200 calories per bun.) As beautiful as a traditional HCB is, sometimes all that buttery stodge gets a bit too much. These are perfect for a snack or lighter breakfast. You could even have two for approximately the same calorie content as one! See, there's method to my madness.

Below I've included images from this post to reference the method of making tangzhong bread.

Yields 18 buns.

Tangzhong (Water Roux)

Tangzhong is made using a 1:5 ratio (1 part flour, 5 part liquid)- you could always make more and store it in the fridge for a few days, should you wish to make more fluffy bread!

50g strong white bread flour
125ml water
125ml milk

1. Mix all the ingredients together- tip: to avoid lumps I put these ingredients into a jam jar (or any other container with a sealable lid) and shake vigorously- this helps get rid of any lumps of flour)
2. Pour flour/water mixture into a saucepan and over medium heat, heat the mixture whilst constantly whisking (I stir with a rubber spatula).
3. Heat the mixture until it starts to thicken and the whisk (or spatula) starts to leave lines, and looks like a sort of runny paste. Take off the heat. (Tangzhong is actually also known as 65°C Tangzhong. You could heat the mixture until 65°C but I have found in the past the mixture gets too thick so now I just eyeball it, which seems to work!).
4. Cover Tangzhong with cling film directly onto the surface of it to avoid a skin developing and leave to cool to room temperature before using. If you're using Tangzhong from the fridge, let it reach to room temperature before using.

Hot Cross Buns

375g strong white bread flour
120g tangzhong
38g caster sugar
1 1/2 tbsp full fat milk powder (I ran out so used skimmed milk powder)
7g yeast (1 sachet)
6g salt
157ml warm water (approx 45-50°C)
38g softened butter
100g raisins
Zest of 1 small orange
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg

To Finish

75g plain flour
Apricot Jam or 1tbsp honey mixed with 1 tbsp hot water

** This is best done using a mixer attached with a dough hook, or a bread machine on dough function- trust me, I've done this by hand and it just doesn't work very well. The dough can be quite sticky, so unless you've got arms of steel you're more than welcome to try! **

  1. Add all the ingredients (minus butter) together in the bowl of your mixer and mix on low-medium until the mixture starts coming together.
  2. Add the softened butter until it is incorporated.
  3. Turn mixer onto medium-high (for at least 10 minutes) and mix until the window pane test (see photo above). The dough should be super elastic-y and when stretched it should form a thin membrane without breaking easily. When the dough gets to this stage, it is ready for the first rise. If not, keep mixing!
  4. Shape the dough into a ball, place into a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise at room temperature, or a relatively warm place for 1hr (or until double in size), depending on the temperature of the day/your house.
  5. Prepare two baking trays lined with baking paper. In a bowl, mix the cinnamon, ground ginger and nutmeg with the orange zest and raisins and set aside.
  6. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, tip the dough out and deflate by pressing down with a rolling pin, fold into thirds and roll out again. Tip the raisin mixture into the dough and gently knead and fold until incorporated. Divide into 18 pieces (mine weighed approximately 50g each).
  7. Roll each piece of dough into a ball and place on the baking trays. 
  8. Loosely cover the trays with cling film and leave to rise until double in size.
  9. Preheat oven to 190°C.  Brush the tops of the buns with milk. Mix the plain flour with enough water (tablespoon at a time) until it forms a runny but pipeable paste. Place into a piping bag/freezer bag, snip a small amount off the end and pipe crosses onto the buns and bake for 14-15 mins, rotating the pans half way through, until the hot cross buns are golden brown.
  10. Lightly brush the tops with apricot jam, or honey/ syrup solution when still hot.
  11. These are best eaten when still warm. In the event the buns feel a bit hard- nuke in the microwave for 10 secs and it will become soft and fluffy again.


  • When mixing the paste for the crosses- do not make too runny otherwise the cross will crack and split a little like mine have done here. Mix too thick and the cross will be tough and chewy.


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Interior designer & part time baker. Lover of architecture, design and all things cute.