[Top Chef’s] Soft Hot Cross Buns Recipe Revealed!

Soft Hot Cross Buns Recipe

[Top Chef’s] Soft Hot Cross Buns Recipe Revealed!

Whipping up soft hot cross buns recipe at home is surprisingly easy and incredibly rewarding.

This recipe uses the tangzhong method, ensuring each bun is super soft, bursting with spices and fruit.

From mixing the dough to piping the cross and baking, every step is a chance to add your personal touch.

There’s nothing like pulling these traditional treats out of the oven, filling the kitchen with their irresistible aroma.

Super Soft Hot Cross Buns

Every Easter, I look forward to making hot cross buns, a classic recipe that’s been in my family for years.

This year, I decided to add a twist with the Tangzhong method, creating not just any bun, but a super soft, smaller batch that rivals the best loaf or bread you’ve ever had.

The dough is enhanced with chocolate and apple, with a hint of salted caramel for a modern take on the traditional hot cross bun.

What Is The Tangzhong Method?

The Tangzhong method, an Asian technique, involves cooking a mixture of flour and water into a thick paste or roux.

This process gelatinises the starch in the flour, allowing it to absorb and hold more water during the dough making process. The result? Bread that is not only soft but stays soft for longer.

While Chinese bakers use Tangzhong, the Japanese have a similar approach called Yudane, involving boiling liquid mixed with flour and left overnight.

Both methods produce lean, tender, and extremely soft bread, like Shokupan or milk bread, which have recently colonised Instagram with countless followers sharing their IG post of the perfect slice.

Super soft hot cross buns ingredients

Why Use The Tangzhong Method For Hot Cross Buns?

When you make easy hot cross buns recipe at home, using the Tangzhong method can be a game-changer.

This traditional technique prevents the buns from becoming stale quickly, maintaining their softness for days.

Initially, the dough might seem a bit bizarre or slime-like, but it’s just the Tangzhong making it super stretchy and ensuring that everything holds together nicely.

It’s fascinating how this overlooked method, once you incorporate and test it following the original recipe, significantly enhances the softness and texture of your buns.

Don’t forget to check the gluten content in your bread flour; it plays a crucial role here.

What Is Bread Flour?

Bread Flour is the backbone of any dough that dreams of becoming soft, strong bread or buns.

It’s a high-protein, high grade flour known for its gluten strength, which is important for creating the perfect soft hot cross buns recipe.

When you’re making buns at home, always check to ensure the flour’s protein % is up to the mark.

In places where bread flour is lower in protein, you can buy vital wheat gluten to add to the mix in specific ratios to help achieve that desired softness and structure.

How To Make Super Soft Hot Cross Buns?

Creating super soft hot cross buns combines traditional techniques with a few innovative twists. Follow these steps for a delicious Easter treat:

  • Start With The Tangzhong Method: Cook a mixture of water and flour until it becomes a thick paste. This roux helps the dough stay moist and soft for longer.
  • Soak The Fruit: Enhance the dough with fruit soaked in Earl Grey Tea, chai, apple juice, orange juice, or boiling water to add flavor and moisture.
  • Mix And Knead The Dough: Use a mixer to combine the Tangzhong, butter, flour, and soaked fruit. Then, incorporate the ingredients by hand until the dough is smooth and stretchy.
  • First Rise: Allow the dough to rise on the counter for an hour to kick start the rising process, or leave it in the fridge overnight. This step is crucial for developing flavor and softness.
  • Shape The Buns: After the first rise, shape the dough into buns. Proportion and spacing are important for the second rise.
  • Prepare The Cross Mix: Create a cross mix with flour and water, reaching a consistency that can be easily piped across the buns.
  • Bake: Place the super soft hot cross buns recipe in the oven and bake for the recommended minutes. Cinnamon, which can inhibit yeast activity and prolong the rising, should be used carefully to not affect the dough’s rise.
  • Glaze And Enjoy: Once baked, brush the buns with a sugar syrup glaze for a sweet finish. Now, they’re ready to enjoy!

This recipe takes time and patience, especially during the waiting periods for the dough to rise.

The tested method ensures that these buns won’t become stale quickly, maintaining their softness.

The Tangzhong technique, often overlooked in traditional recipes, is what makes this version super.

Bread flour, known for its high gluten content, is essential for a bizarrely soft and slimy texture that’s still held together nicely.

If you’re using all-purpose flour, check the protein %; for lower protein flours, add vital wheat gluten in the right ratios to help achieve the desired strength and softness in your hot cross buns.

Super Soft Hot Cross Buns Recipe

Super Soft Hot Cross Buns Ingredients

For The Tangzhong:

  • 20 grams of bread flour
  • 90 grams of whole milk

For The Fruit Soak:

  • 100 grams of either raisins or sultanas
  • 25 grams of dried currants
  • 200 grams of hot, strong Earl Grey tea

For The Hot Cross Bun Dough:

  • All of the Tangzhong
  • 130 grams of whole milk
  • 60 grams of either light or dark brown sugar
  • 275 grams of bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons of instant yeast
  • 1 large egg, beaten lightly
  • 15 grams of milk powder
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon of nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon of ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon of ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground coriander
  • Optional: a few twists of black pepper
  • 30 grams of unsalted butter, room temperature

For The Crosses:

  • 40 grams of all-purpose or bread flour
  • 40 grams of water

For The Sugar Glaze:

  • 30 grams of water
  • 25 grams of sugar
  • An optional ⅛ teaspoon of vanilla bean paste
  • A tiny pinch of salt



  • Begin with the Tangzhong: Combine 1 part milk to 5 parts bread flour in a saucepan over medium heat. Continuously stir until it transforms into a thick paste. This should take a few minutes. Once achieved, immediately transfer this mixture into a bowl set aside for the stand mixer and allow it to cool. Cover directly with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming.

Soft Hot Cross Bun Dough

  • Prepare the Fruit: Soak raisins and currants in hot tea for approximately 20 minutes, then drain thoroughly.
  • Mix the Dough: Add your dough ingredients to the stand mixer bowl containing the Tangzhong, including the butter and drained fruits. Using the dough hook attachment, mix at medium to high speed until the dough becomes sticky, soft, and smooth, and starts clearing the sides of the bowl.
  • First Rise: Form the dough into a ball and place it into an oiled or buttered bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm spot until it has doubled in size, which may take several hours. Using a clear-sided container can help you easily monitor the dough’s expansion.
  • Shape the Buns: On a lightly floured surface, weigh and divide the dough into equal pieces. Roll each piece into a tight ball and arrange them on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Cover with greased plastic wrap and allow them to rest.
  • Second Rise: Transfer the pan to a warm spot for a few hours until the buns become puffy. To test for readiness, gently press with a finger; the dough should slowly spring back.
  • Preheat the Oven: Heat your oven to 350°F (180°C).
  • Add the Crosses: Mix flour and water until smooth to prepare the cross mixture. Fill a piping bag and pipe crosses over the tops of the buns, drawing both vertical and horizontal lines.
  • Bake: Place the buns in the preheated oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until they turn golden brown and an internal temperature of 190°F (90°C) is achieved, as verified by a thermometer.
  • Apply the Glaze: As the buns are cooling, prepare the sugar syrup by combining ingredients in a saucepan, bringing them to a boil, and then allowing them to stand for a few minutes. Brush the syrup over the warm buns to give them a shiny finish.
  • Serve and Enjoy: These Super Soft Hot Cross Buns are best enjoyed warm or at room temperature, ideally with a smear of butter. Store any leftovers in an airtight container. For best results, briefly reheat them in the microwave or oven before serving again.

Super soft hot cross buns recipe

The Best Fruit To Use For Hot Cross Buns

For soft hot cross buns recipe, choosing the right fruit is key. Sultanas, raisins, currants, and mixed peel add sweetness and texture, while cranberries offer a tart contrast.

Soaking them in Earl Grey Tea, hot black tea, or orange juice infuses the dough with complex flavors.

Different Types Of Yeast – Use Any

  • Active dry yeast requires dissolving in warm liquid to become foamy before mixing with dry ingredients.
  • Instant yeast (or rapid rise yeast) mixes directly into the dough, helping it rise faster without needing to be dissolved.
  • Fresh yeast, sold in a block, must be crumbled into the liquid.

Hot Cross Buns – Choose From 3 Methods

  • Stand mixer: The easiest method, using a stand mixer for kneading saves time and arm strength.
  • Hand kneading: Requires about 10 minutes of kneading for a firmer dough.
  • No-knead: Mix ingredients in a bowl with a wooden spoon, stirring until fluffy; keep covered until ready to shape.

Tips For The Best Hot Cross Buns

  • Check The Yeast: Always check the expiry date before you start. Test its activity by dissolving some in a bowl of tap water with sugar and waiting for it to become foamy in about 10 min. This ensures the yeast is alive and will help your buns rise.
  • Dough Consistency Matters: Your dough should be sticky yet moist. If it’s too dry, it might turn into hard rocks. Use less flour than you think you need initially; you can always add more but can’t take it away.
  • Adapt The Extra Flour Based On Humidity: The weather, including humidity and whether it’s summer or winter, affects how much flour you should use. Summer’s humidity might require you to use a bit more, while in winter, the air is colder and cools the dough faster, possibly needing less.
  • Achieve A Smooth Dough By Kneading Whether you’re using a stand mixer or your hands, the goal is to make the dough smooth. Hand knead for a more tactile experience, but a stand mixer can save time and effort.
  • Try the no knead hot cross buns method for a simpler approach. Mix the ingredients in a bowl with a wooden spoon and let it sit overnight. This slow cooling process helps develop flavor without the work.
  • Baking: Ensure your oven is at the right temperature. An oven that’s too hot can cause the buns to cook on the outside but remain doughy Too low, and they may dry out.

By following these tips, not only do you ensure that your hot cross buns turn out soft and delicious, but you also get to enjoy the baking process, making adjustments based on your own kitchen’s environment and the ingredients you have on hand.

Storage & Leftover Tips

After enjoying the delightful experience of making and savoring Super Soft Hot Cross Buns, the question of how to keep them fresh arises. Here’s a guide to ensure your buns remain as delicious as the day they were baked.

Keeping Buns Fresh

  • Airtight Container: Store your buns in an airtight container at room temperature. A cool, dry place is ideal to preserve their softness and flavor for up to a few days.
  • Zip-Lock Bag: For added freshness, place the buns in a zip-lock bag with as much air removed as possible. This method helps maintain moisture and prevents them from drying out quickly.
  • Homemade Pantry Solution: If you prefer using what’s available at home, a homemade approach can involve wrapping the buns in cloth and placing them in a pantry. This can slightly extend their freshness beyond just leaving them out.

Freezing For Longevity

  • Freezer Storage: For longer storage, freeze the buns. Wrap them individually in baking paper and then in foil to protect them from freezer burn, allowing them to last for several months.
  • Thawing Portions: When you’re ready to enjoy, thaw only the portions you need. This prevents waste and ensures you always have a leftover Easter-inspired dessert at hand.

Reviving Leftovers

  • Toasting and Crumbling: Toast slightly stale buns to bring back their outer crispness. They can be crumbled over ice cream for a delightful weekend treat.
  • French Toast with a Twist: Use them in place of plain bread for French Toast for an exciting twist on the classic breakfast, infusing it with the unique spices and textures of the buns.

Why Are Hot Cross Buns Dense

FAQs About Soft Hot Cross Buns Recipe

1. Can These Hot Cross Buns Be Made By Hand?

Absolutely! Using a mixer is not a must; developing strength in the dough by hand is a classic approach to making hot cross buns and a viable option for those who prefer a more tactile baking experience.

2. What Pan Did You Use For The Hot Cross Buns?

I used a 9″ (23cm) metal, nonstick baking pan from Williams Sonoma. It’s the perfect size for evenly cooking the buns without them sticking to the bottom.

3. Can Hot Cross Buns Dough Be Made Ahead Of Time?

Yes, it’s been tested. For the first rise, let it sit overnight on the counter for an hour to kick start the rising process, or place it in the fridge if you’re worried about cinnamon which inhibits yeast activity and prolongs the process.

4. How Do You Reheat Hot Cross Buns?

To reheat, place them in the microwave or cover them with foil in the oven at 350°F (180°C) for a few minutes. You can also toast them for a crispier texture.

5. How Do You Store Hot Cross Buns?

Store them in an airtight container at room temperature to keep them fresh and moist for as long as possible.

6. Can I Prep Hot Cross Buns In Advance?

Definitely! Prep the recipe, shape the dough into balls, and place them in a greased baking pan. You can keep them in the fridge overnight. Just let them come to room temperature for a few minutes before you bake them.

7. Why Is My Hot Cross Bun Dough Sticky?

Enriched dough used in hot cross buns, similar to brioche or challah for feast day bakes, naturally results in stickiness due to the sugar, fats, and egg content. This texture is a hallmark of their rich flavor.

8. Why Are My Hot Cross Buns Dry?

Over kneading the dough, especially with an electric mixer and dough hook, can develop the glutens excessively, making the buns heavy and hard. A gentle hand is key to keeping them moist and tender.

9. Can I Leave Hot Cross Bun Dough Overnight?

Absolutely! For Easter baking, preparing hot cross buns dough the night before and letting it prove in the fridge captures that just-baked taste right out of the oven the next morning.

10. How Long Do Hot Cross Buns Last?

Store your homemade hot cross buns in an airtight container in the pantry for a few days, or freeze them for up to months. When freezing, wrap in baking paper to easily thaw only the portions you need.

11. Why Are Hot Cross Buns Seasonal?

Their origins trace back to the 12th century, when an Anglican monk marked buns with a cross for Good Friday. Their popularity as a symbol of Easter weekend has made them a seasonal treat.

12. Why Are Hot Cross Buns Dense?

Dense hot cross buns can result from overworking the dough. Properly kneading for the right time—not more than a few minutes—develops the gluten and structure without making the buns too hard or worked.

13. Are Hot Cross Buns Freezable?

Yes, hot cross buns can be frozen. Simply slice them in half, wrap them up, and freeze. They reheat well in the toaster, ready to be enjoyed with butter.

14. How Long To Heat Hot Cross Buns?

To warm or toast hot cross buns, slice them in half and place them in a toaster or an oven preheated to 180°C (350°F) for a few minutes until toasted.

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