It is that time again when you start to wake up to birds singing outside the window. It is definitely spring , whether officially acknowledged or not. Mind you, this is also the season when the eyes are watery and nose is itchy , but that is not what this post is about.
Our favorite this season is the hot cross buns. We end up baking hot cross buns a few times in March and April. Today’s version is a healthy makeover of the traditional Hot Cross Buns. This one is not as pretty as the ones you see at the local bakery. There are a lot of dried fruits in there, trying to burst out 🙂 .
These healthy hot cross buns are are made with part whole wheat flour, has less butter and sugar. Now if you are allergic to eggs, or avoiding eggs for any other reason, this is your day – these buns are indeed egg free. Isn’t that reason enough to try these out ?
The bread dough for these buns is the standard sweet dough minus a little sugar. The dough is a little more wet that usual and I usually knead the dry fruits into the dough. The fruits absorb a little of the moisture. Add the fruits towards the end of kneading – and knead for only a minute or so , just long enough to distribute the fruits evenly. Form the dough into a ball, cover and let rest till doubled . It usually takes about an hour in a warm environment.
Once the dough has doubled , punch it down and divide into 12 equal portions. Form each into a ball and arrange in a baking tin about 1 cm apart. Cover and let these rise for about 30 minutes , or until almost doubled in volume.
If planning to place the cross there are a few options. One is a simple pastry cross which is piped on top and baked . The other option is to pipe on a icing sugar cross over the baked buns . My family is not big fans of icing on the buns , so we either opt for no cross or pastry crosses .
Pastry crosses are simple – mix in flour, water and some sugar to a thick paste and pipe over the buns . A ratio of 3 to 4 tablespoons of flour , 2 tablespoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of water is what I use . Pipe the crosses on just before putting the buns in the oven.
While the buns are rising , pre heat the oven to 375°F. Place a small metal trey in the bottom rack of the oven. Place some ice cubes in metal trey as the buns are placed in the oven. Reduce the heat to 350°F as soon as the buns are in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes till the top of the buns are lightly browned.
Remove the buns from the oven and lightly brush the tops with a little melted butter . Cool in pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Whole Wheat Hot Cross Buns
- 3 C Unbleached All Purpose Flour
- 1 1/2 C White Whole Wheat or Atta
- 2 Tbsp Butter
- 2 Tbsp Honey / Sugar
- 1 1/2 C Milk
- 1 1/2 Tsp Fine Sea Salt
- 2 1/4 Tsp Active Dry Yeast 1 Packet
- 1 Tsp Cinnamon
- 1 Tsp All Spice
- 1/2 Tsp Nutmeg
- 1 1/2 C Mixed Dry Fruits See Notes
- 4 Tbsp AP Flour
- 2 Tbsp Milk
- 2 Tbsp Sugar
- 1/2 C Powdered Sugar
- 1 - 2 Tbsp Water/Milk
- Warm the milk to 110 F or just warm to touch . Mix in 1 Tablespoon of honey/ sugar to 1/4 C milk and sprinkle the yeast on top. Set aside for 5 to 10 minutes and the yeast should activate and bubble up .
- Take the flours and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the spices and mix thoroughly. Make a well in the center of the flour pile and add the yeast mixture. Slowly add the milk little by little while mixing in the flour and milk. All the flour should come together into a slightly sticky mass. Add the butter and knead for about 10 minutes . The dough should become smoother and softer. It should be a little wet ad very soft. If it feels too wet ant sticky add a few more tablespoons of flour.
- Add the dried fruits to the dough and knead for a minute to distribute the fruits evenly . Cover and set aside to double in a warm place . About 1 hour.
- Punch down the dough and divide into 12 portions. Form each portion onto a ball . The balls may not be very smooth as the fruits tend to stretch the dough in uneven shapes.
- Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes.
- Pre-heat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
- If making a pastry cross , mix the ingredients for the cross to a thick paste and place in a piping bag. Just before putting the buns in the oven pipe the crosses on the buns .
- After placing the buns in the oven turn down the oven to 350°F (175°C) . Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the tops are lightly browned .
- Remove from the oven and brush with butter immediately. Cool in pan for 10 minutes . Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely .
- If making the icing crosses , mix the icing sugar with just enough water or milk to make a thick paste. Pipe the icing over the cooled buns.
- Freeze or serve the same day.
Important: Values are only estimates. Actuals vary depending on ingredients and serving size.
Few notes for bread nerds :
The flour is used in 2:1 ratio of AP/Bread Flour to WW by weight. The dough hydration is around 70%. Yeast at 2% and salt at 1.75% by weight.
Feeling more traditional ? how about these traditional hot cross buns ?
Or try these Hot Cross Bun Loaf