I love baking, but I don’t often make my own Hot Cross Buns at Easter time. I honestly prefer making Cinnamon Rolls or even this Hot Cross Bun Pull Apart Bread… but I think that is all about to change because I’ve stumbled across the holy grail of recipes – No Knead Hot Cross Buns!
This is exactly as the name suggests – a recipe that requires no stand mixer, hand mixer, special equipment or any kneading at all!
This recipe makes a traditional hot cross bun that is just like you’d get at a bakery. Fluffy, golden and generously spiced and studded with lots of sultanas. Plus it’s really easy, with very little hands on time. As with most No Knead recipes, it has a long, slow proofing time. In the past I was always unsure whether I was under-kneading or over-kneading and the results were not as light and fluffy as this batch.
The best part about making your own hot cross buns, is that you can choose whatever flavours you like! I love a traditional version but this recipe is quite adaptable.
- Sultanas – my personal favourite and a must-have in a traditional hot cross bun. I have increased the amount from the original recipe. You could also try a version with your favourite dried fruit – cranberries, chopped dates, figs, dried apples or peaches.
- Mixed Peel – usually a combination of orange and lemon peel from a packet, which can sometimes be a little bitter and has a very distinctive taste. I think you either love it or hate it…
- Fresh Citrus Zest – I’d much rather use a little fresh orange zest in my cooking, however lemon or mandarin zest would also be delicious!
- Mixed Spice – a store-bought Mixed Spice usually contains cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. Sometimes I use a Chinese Five Spice instead (like in my Fruit Mince Pies) as I think the addition of ginger, star anise, clove and black pepper can give a lovely complex flavour.
- Earl Grey – It might sound strange but bear with me here. The first time I made these hot cross buns I infused the milk with 2 teaspoons of earl grey tea and added an additional 3 teaspoons of powdered tea to the dough. It was very nice but had quite a subtle flavour. Perhaps next year I will try and perfect the recipe! I used my Nutribullet with the milling blade attached to grind the tea.
- Chocolate Chips – lots of modern recipes replace the fruit with chocolate chips! Super tasty if you’re eating them fresh, but I really hate chocolate melting and burning in the toaster!
The day before you want to serve your No Knead Hot Cross Buns, make the dough. It’s really a matter of mixing the ingredients together to form a sticky, shaggy dough. Cover and leave it for an hour and them give it a few folds. To do this, you’ll use your wet hands or a spatula to scoop the dough and fold it to the other side of the bowl. Then turn the bowl 90 degrees and do it again so you’ve done four folds. Repeat this again after another hour. Then the bowl will go into the fridge (or room temperature if it’s cool where you live) overnight or for up to 24 hours.
The following day, add the sultanas. This can be a little tricky, so I like to bring the dough out of the fridge about an hour beforehand. I had to very gently knead the dough to evenly incorporate the fruit. Next time I might try adding sultanas in when mixing the dough and seeing if there is any difference as this step is a bit annoying! The dough is shaped into round balls, and allowed to prove again until the buns have doubled in size. This recipe uses an egg wash pre-baking, instead of a glaze brushed onto the warm buns.
Another thing that is a little different to recipes I’ve tried in the past is that the crosses are made with a mixture of flour and milk, instead of flour and water. I had to play around with the consistency to get it perfect to pipe. And even then, I am not so good at making perfect crosses on my buns! But I think when you are making them from scratch, it’s nice when they look a little rustic.
I decided to bake mine in a round cast iron pan but you can definitely use a square or rectangular cake dish. They smell so incredibly good as they’re baking but try not to tuck into them straight out of the oven. They continue cooking as they cool, so for the best texture it’s important to wait, or they might seem doughy inside. Be patient, it’s totally worth it!
I was super happy with how these No Knead Hot Cross Buns turned out and I’m looking forward to experimenting more with this recipe (which I originally found in Olive Magazine) in future years. I’m making one more batch this weekend to share with my parents. I love that I can make the dough the day before and then pop them in the oven in the morning for a delicious Easter breakfast.
I loved how light and fluffy they were, with a good hit of spice and a generous amount of fruit. They tasted best fresh on the day they were made, but they are also delicious toasted and slathered with lots of butter. If you have any leftover, you could also try making my Baked French Toast using them! It would be soooo delicious!
No Knead Hot Cross Buns
No Knead Hot Cross Buns – a delicious fluffy Easter bun full of fruit and spices, that requires no stand mixer, hand mixer, special equipment or any kneading at all!
Hot Cross Bun Dough
- 525 g plain flour, plus extra for shaping
- 75 g brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons mixed spice
- 7 g instant dried yeast
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 150 g butter, melted and cooled
- 200 ml milk, room temperature or slightly warmed
- 3 eggs
- 200 g sultanas
- 1 egg, extra for egg wash, whisked lightly
- 3 tablespoons plain flour
- 3 tablespoons milk
The day before you want to bake your Hot Cross Buns, place the flour, brown sugar, mixed spice, salt and yeast into a large bowl and stir until combined.
Whisk the milk, butter and eggs together into a jug. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the mixture. Using a wooden spoon, mix together to form a shaggy dough, ensuring that all ingredients are mixed and there are no pockets of dry ingredients. Cover with a clean tea towel or plastic wrap and set aside for 1 hour.
Use a wet hand or a large spatula to scoop up the dough from the side of the bowl, lifting and folding it over to the opposite side of the bowl. Rotate the bowl 90 degrees and repeat, doing this for all four sides of the bowl. Cover again and let rest for another hour. Repeat this 1-2 more times and then cover and chill overnight or for up to 24 hours.
The next day, take the dough out of the fridge around an hour before you want to start. Scoop the dough out onto a floured bench top or work surface. Press flat and scatter over the sultanas, pressing gently into the dough and giving it a gentle knead for a minute or two. I like to fold it over a few times to secure the fruit and ensure it’s evenly distributed through the dough. Divide into 12 equal portions and form into round balls.
Line a tray, or a round/square/rectangular cake pan with baking paper and place dough balls seam side down, around 2cm apart. Cover with a clean tea towel or plastic wrap and allow to rise for 1-2 hours until almost doubled in size. To test if they are ready to bake, gently press and if the dough springs back quickly and fully they need a little longer. If they spring back slowly, they’re ready to be baked.
Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F). Brush the tops of the buns with the beaten egg. To make the crosses, combine the milk and flour to form a thick paste. It should be a nice pipe-able consistency and not too runny or too thick. Scoop into a piping bag (or a zip lock with the tip cut off) and pipe each bun with a cross shape.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating half way, until the buns are golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool fully before serving. Serve fresh or toasted, slathered in lots of butter!