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Easy bread maker hot cross buns

By Haddi Browne

Find out how to make perfect homemade Easter hot cross buns in your bread maker with our video guide.

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Love hot cross buns? Keen to try your hand at making your own? Why not get more out of your bread maker and let it do the hard work for you. 

Our step-by-step guide explains how to use your bread maker to make hot cross buns, so you can enjoy delicious, homemade spiced buns over the Easter period and beyond.

Watch our video below, and then read on for the full recipe, plus tips on variations to try if you're feeling adventurous. If you don't have a bread maker, you can still make the buns – you'll simply need to mix and knead the dough by hand and leave it to prove, before cutting and shaping the buns.

Best bread makers for 2018see the models we recommend. 

How to make hot cross buns in your bread machine - video guide

Bread maker hot cross buns – recipe and method

Your bread maker may well include its own recipe for hot cross buns, or it might be labelled as an enriched fruit dough. We based ours on the Panasonic bread maker, as we used this bread maker in our video. 

Hot cross buns - ingredients and equipment needed
Bun dough Other bits Equipment

1.5 tsp fast-action yeast

450g strong white bread flour

50g caster sugar

0.5 tsp salt

1 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp cinnamon

50g butter

1 egg

220ml semi-skimmed milk

110g sultanas

50g mixed peel

Crosses:

50g flour

1 tsp caster sugar

2 tbsp water

 

Glaze:

2 tbsp semi-skimmed milk

2 tbsp caster sugar

Scales

Measuring jug

Clingfilm

Baking paper

Baking tray

Whisk

Piping bag

Pastry brush

 

Method

1. Remove the pan from your bread maker. Add the yeast to the pan, followed by the other dried ingredients. Add the salt last, and make sure it doesn't touch the yeast. Then add the butter, milk and beaten egg. 

2. Place the pan in the machine. If your bread maker has a fruit dispenser, add the sultanas and mixed peel now. Otherwise, select the basic raisin dough (or equivalent) mode, and press start. Your bread maker will beep when it's time to add the dried fruit. 

3. When the dough cycle has finished (this will take about two-and-a-half hours, depending on your model) remove the pan using oven gloves. Tip out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide it into 12 rolls of equal size using a sharp knife and shape into round buns. 

4. Grease and line your baking trays, and place the rolls on the paper. Score a cross in each roll with a small, sharp knife. Cover the buns with lightly oiled clingfilm and leave them to rise in a warm part of your house for about 40 minutes or until they double in size.

5. Preheat the oven to 220C or 200C for a fan ovens. Meanwhile, make the crosses by mixing the flour and sugar together. Add two tablespoons of water initially, then a third if needed, to make a thick but pipeable paste. Spoon into a piping bag and pipe crosses onto the buns. 

6. Bake at 200C for 10-15 minutes, until the buns are golden brown and hollow-sounding when tapped. 

7. While the buns are cooking, mix the sugar and milk for the glaze. Brush the glaze over the buns as soon as they come out of the oven using a pastry brush. 

8. Enjoy!

Bread maker hot cross buns - tips and tricks

  • Take your pan out of the machine to fill it. This avoids accidental spillages coming into contact with the heating elements. 
  • Some bread makers have an automatic dispenser for nuts and raisins. Load it up at the beginning, and you won't need to hang around waiting for the beep telling you to add these ingredients in. Over half the models we've tested have an automatic dispenser. Head to our bread maker reviews to find the best. 
  • If you don't have a piping bag, you can use a sandwich bag to pipe the crosses. Avoid mess by first placing it inside an empty beaker or jug and folding the sides down over it. Spoon your mixture into the bag inside the beaker.
  • Some recipes suggest heating the milk used for the glaze. However, if you glaze the buns when they're still warm you shouldn't need to do this.

Alternative hot cross bun recipes - Earl Grey, chocolate and more

While the traditional hot cross bun is a thing of beauty, we're seeing more and more variations on the classic recipe. You'll spot some of these in the shops but it's easy to experiment with them at home, too. Here are some popular examples:

Cranberry, apple and cinnamon hot cross buns

If you fancy mixing it up, you can make simple switches, such as swapping the sultanas and peel for other fruits such as cherries, cranberries or apple, or upping quantities of a particular spice, such as cinnamon.

Chocolate hot cross buns

Other simple twists on the traditional recipe include swapping the dried fruit for chocolate chips or even opting for a chocolate and orange dough to match.

Earl Grey hot cross buns

An elegant twist on the original recipe. Heston Blumenthal adds orange zest, mandarin and bergamot extracts, and soaks the raisins and sultanas overnight in Earl Grey tea. 

If you want more citrus zing, you could soak your fruit in orange juice instead.

Lactose-free and gluten-free hot cross buns

The joy of making your own hot cross buns is that you can adapt the recipe to cater for food intolerances. We tried making lactose-free buns with soya milk and margarine, and they came out just as light and fluffy as they did with normal milk and butter. 

You can swap standard bread flour for gluten-free options, too.

The really easy way - make a bread maker hot cross bun loaf

If you're short on time, or just don't fancy the faff of shaping and making buns, you can make a hot cross bun loaf instead. Some models – such as the Kenwood BM450 bread maker – come with come with recipes for making a hot cross bun loaf. 

All you'll need to do is place the ingredients in the pan in the order Kenwood suggests, leave the bread maker to do it's job, and then glaze when finished.

If you want the cross on top, make fruit dough as for the buns, then transfer to a loaf tin and pipe a cross on top before baking in the oven.

How to store hot cross buns

Store your hot cross buns in an airtight bread bin and they should last two days. 

You can also freeze them, if you fancy storing some for later. Let them cool completely after baking, then pack them into sandwich bags. Nigella Lawson suggests placing a layer of parchment paper between each one to stop them sticking together, if they've been glazed.  

On the day you want to eat the buns, thaw them out at room temperature for a few hours, then warm them up for five minutes in a preheated oven at 150C.

Hot cross bun toppings and serving tips

Some people will happily eat a hot cross bun cold, unsliced and untoasted, but the most popular option tends to be sliced and buttered, ideally fresh out of the oven or lightly toasted.

Warming in the oven or toasting under the grill is a good option. If you're in a hurry, you can slice the buns and toast them, but take care, as it can be a tight squeeze fitting buns in the toaster and the fruit is prone to burning. 

Turn your toaster dial down and slice slightly off-centre towards the bun dome, to get more even halves. Some toasters are better suited to bun-toasting than others, with wider slots, high-lift features and even special bun-toasting settings. See our toaster reviews to find the best options.

How do you eat yours?

Are you a hot cross bun purist or an experimenter? When we did a straw poll at Which? HQ, most people opted for a simple buttered slice. But we had a range of answers from peanut butter and jam to cream cheese and Marmite!

Vote for your favourite topping in our poll below.

What to do with hot cross bun leftovers

Sadly, freshly made hot cross buns have a short shelf life if not frozen. If you find yourself with a surplus, Jamie Oliver has a host of suggestions for using up stale hot cross buns. These include:

Making hot cross breadcrumbs

Bake the stale buns for 10 to 20 minutes (depending on staleness!) at 130C. Then blend them in your food processor, or place them in a sandwich bag and whack them with a rolling pin.  

You can use these breadcrumbs as the filling in a treacle tart, or to replace ground nuts or flour in a Bakewell tart. 

Hot cross bun and butter pudding

Slice the buns and butter them. Spread apricot jam or marmalade onto the slices. Then soak in custard and bake. 

Other bread maker recipes

Bread makers can do much more than make an everyday loaf. Most models can make jam, cakes and an increasingly diverse range of speciality breads and doughs – giving you a lots of options to experiment with. 

Use our guide to bread maker features to find out what features to look for when buying, and our guide to getting the most out of your bread maker for more tips.

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