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RECIPE: Best hot cross buns

There is nothing quite like waking up to the delicious scent of hot cross buns baking in the oven.

This is how I always love to start Good Friday and the four-day long weekend. It’s simply a case of the ingredients going into the bowl and mixing until you have a soft smooth dough. Don’t get too worried about over kneading. It really is hard to over knead a dough especially if you’re mixing by hand.

Even though mixed peel is a traditional ingredient, I've never been a big fan, and instead use orange zest for that citrus hit minus the high sugar content.

This recipe makes 16 to 18 buns. The recipe is easily scaled down if you want to make half the amount. Eat them the same day, the next day, and if any left, you can also freeze these beauties for up to three months.



  • 1 orange, zested and juiced

  • 100 g sultanas

  • 325 ml buttermilk (or half yoghurt and half milk)

  • 1 dessert apple – grated

  • 1 tbsp honey

  • 250 g very strong white bread flour

  • 250 g wholemeal bread flour

  • 1 tbsp instant yeast

  • ¼ tsp bicarbonate soda

  • 1 ½ tsp mixed spice

Hot Cross Pastry:

  • 6 tbs plain flour

  • 5 tbs water


  • 3 tbsp honey


Place the orange juice in a small saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for about 3 or 4 minutes to reduce by about half. Add the sultanas (to plump up into bursts of sweet juiciness) and set to one side. Warm the buttermilk for one minute on high power in the microwave. Stir in the grated apple and honey. Place flour, yeast, bicarbonate of soda, mixed spice and salt in a large bowl. Add buttermilk mixture and sultanas in orange juice and mix into a rough dough. Dust a work surface with flour and knead by hand for 10 minutes until you have a smooth and elastic dough.

** Now give the Windowpane Test a go to check your dough is ready. Pinch off a small piece of dough and gently stretch it apart, pulling and rotating the dough into a thin sheet, which is translucent when you hold it up to the light.

Place the dough in a large greased mixing bowl, cover and leave in a warm place to rise for 1½ hours until doubled in size. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and divide into 16 pieces. Shape into balls and place on a baking tray. Cover with greased cling film or a clean tea towel for one hour in a warm place. While your Hot Cross Buns are rising, make your hot cross mix. Sift the flour into a jug, add the water and mix well until you have a smooth paste. Preheat your oven to 400°F / 200°C. When your hot cross buns are ready for the oven, pipe or use a spoon to form the crosses on your buns. Place in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Brush with honey for a shiny glaze and leave to cool on a wire rack.

I can't wait for you to give this recipe a go! Take a photo, post and tag @theactivlife.

Wishing everyone a safe and happy Easter.

Louise FitzRoy is the Principal of Activ Life, a leading health and wellness company based in the Cayman Islands. If you enjoyed this article you may also like: Short holiday yoga flow and Why is outdoor yoga good for you?

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