Nothing says Easter quite like classic Hot Cross Buns and they’re easier than you might think. This easy recipe, filled with white chocolate chips and dried cranberries makes the perfect Easter brunch.
(photos, post and recipe updated April 2019)
When you think about food, Easter is synonymous with chocolate eggs but also with Hot Cross Buns. This recipe for White Chocolate Cranberry Hot Cross Buns is a great twist on a classic that you definitely should try.
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Every year once Christmas festivities are over, nearly immediately, Hot Cross Buns are on the supermarket shelves. And every year, I have to stop myself from buying a pack until the last moment. Why? Because I don’t want it to just become an all year thing.
I love the tradition behind foods and I love that to me, Hot Cross Buns still say Easter and not January and February too.
What are Hot Cross Buns?
Traditional Hot Cross Buns are a sweetened, spiced bun that includes dried fruit like currants, sultanas, raisins and fruit peel. With a cross made of flour and water across the top, they are traditionally eaten on Good Friday and mark the end of Lent. You can see more about the tradition surrounding them here.
While you could absolutely substitute the cranberries and white chocolate in this recipe with the traditional dried fruit and have the perfect hot cross bun recipe, I do love to give things a twist. Dried cranberries and white chocolate are an absolutely winning combo if ever there was one. Tart cranberries and sweet, creamy chocolate = total BFF’s.
Hot Cross Bun ingredients
A combination of simple everyday ingredients, spices and dried fruit, you may have what you need right now in your pantry.
- Dried fruit
How to make Hot Cross Buns
You’ll start by mixing dry ingredients in one bowl (photo 1) then wet ingredients in another (photo 2) – a little like making muffins. Simple right!
Next, combine the 2 (photo 3) and give them a good mix. At this point, you can add them to the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment (photo 4) or continue to mix and knead by hand.
In a stand mixer, the dough will knead for about 6-7 minutes or by hand, it will take around 10 minutes.
Once it’s looking quite smooth and very elastic – make an indent with your finger and the dough should slowly bounce back – (photo 5), add the choc chips and cranberries (photo 6).
Now place the dough into an oiled bowl (photo 7), cover and leave it for around 1 ½ hours to rise. Once it’s doubled in size, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut into 12 portions (photo 8).
Gently roll each portion into a ball and place them on a lined baking tray. Leave them to rise for another ½ an hour (photo 9) then use a piping bag to pipe the cross over them (photo 10).
Give the rolls a little egg wash then bake for around 25 minutes until golden and cooked through.
Want traditional Hot Cross Buns? Swap the white chocolate chips and dried cranberries for a mixture of currants, raisins and fruit peel.
These White Chocolate Cranberry Hot Cross Buns are a favourite for me and I’ve made them at Easter every year for the last 3 years. It’s such an easy recipe, I know you’ll love them but if you want another version, try my Chocolate Hot Cross Buns. Hubbys favourite.
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White Chocolate Cranberry Hot Cross Buns
FOR THE DOUGH
- 520 g (1.2lb) plain (all-purp) flour
- 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 sachet / 7g) instant yeast (or active dry)
- 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon all spice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 300 ml (10 floz) whole milk (or full cream milk)
- 57 g (2oz / 1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 cup (150g / 5.5oz) white chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries
FOR THE TOP
- 1 egg yolk
- Dash of water
- 75 g (2.5oz) plain (all-purp) flour
- 1/3 cup water
- In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand-mixer, mix the flour, sugar, yeast, cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg and salt.
- In a small saucepan over low-med heat, heat just half the milk and the butter until the butter melts. Take it off the heat and add the remaining milk (this will cool it enough not to kill the yeast).
- Add the milk mixture and vanilla to the dry ingredients and give a mix with a spatula to combine a little, then add the egg.
- Attach the dough hook to the stand mixer and knead the dough on low-medium speed for 6-7 minutes. When it's ready the dough will look fairly smooth and elastic but still sticky. (You can knead by hand but it may take around 10 minutes and resist the urge to add too much flour as it needs to remain a bit sticky).
- Add the cranberries and chocolate chips and knead them through too.
- Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and flip it over so it's covered in oil. Let it rise for about 1.5 hours or until doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 200C / 395F / 180C fan forced. Line a 9x13 inch baking tray or casserole dish with baking paper.
- Shape the dough into a disk and then cut it into 12 even wedges (notes). Roll each wedge into a smooth ball by first tucking the edges underneath until it's a circle shape, then roll to a ball.
- Sit the balls of dough in the baking tray, evenly spaced and cover with a clean tea towel. Let them rise another 1/2 hour until almost doubled in size again.
- Whisk together the egg yolk and the dash of water, then brush lightly over the buns.
- Mix together the remaining flour and water until you have a smooth pipeable paste. Pour it into a plastic sandwich bag and snip off a tiny bit of the corner. Pipe a cross over each of the buns.
- Place in the oven and cook for 25-27 minutes or until the top is nice and golden.
- For best results, you should always weigh ingredients like flour and sugar. Kitchen scales are relatively cheap but if you can’t weigh the ingredients, use the spoon and level method (don’t scoop).
- Cutting into wedges: Start with the dough in a large disk shape. Cut it evenly in half down the centre. Now cut across the other direction to make it 4 even quarters. Cut each quarter into 3 even wedges.
TOOLS USED IN THIS RECIPE
- A 9x13 inch baking tray
- A disposable piping bag
- A stand mixer is helpful
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