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Classic Hot Cross Buns Recipe by Chef Shaun 🇹🇹

Hot cross buns are a traditional baked good often associated with Easter and Good Friday. While the origins of hot cross buns are rooted in European traditions, they have become popular in various parts of the world, including the Caribbean. This is not only something Rhett and I grew up eating, but also something I grew up making with my family in the bakery that my father and his siblings own.

Back then, buns were only sold on Holy Thursday, but preparations in the bakery would begin days before, with everyone pitching in to juice and zest lemons, grate nutmeg and tonka bean, soak the fruits in essences and extracts, and make the baste to brush onto the buns as they came out of the oven. Nowadays, you can get buns well before Holy Thursday.

Yield - 15 Buns


Evaporated Milk- 14 fl. oz (warm)

Instant Yeast- 4 tsp

Brown Sugar- 2/3 cup.

All Purpose Flour- 4 ½ cups (sifted)

Salt- 1/4 tsp

Cinnamon Powder- ½ tsp

Grated Tonka Bean- ¼ tsp

Grated Nutmeg- 1/8 tsp

Egg- 2 L (beaten)

Lemon Juice- 1 tbsp

Vanilla Essence- 1 tsp

Lemon Zest- 1 tsp

Ginger- 1 tsp (grated)

Yellow Food Colouring- 4 drops (measure in tsp)

Margarine- 4 oz

Shortening- 1 oz

Currants- 2 oz

Raisins- 3 oz

Mixed Fruit- 5 oz

Water- ½ cup.

Brown Sugar- ½ cup.

Mixed Essence- 1 tbsp

Vanilla Extract- 1 tbsp

Grated Tonka Bean- ¼ tsp

Grated Nutmeg- 1/8 tsp

Cinnamon Stick- 1

Bay leaf- 1

Ginger- 1 tbsp (grated)

Icing Sugar- 1 1/3 cup

Whole Milk/Water- ½ fl. Oz.


1. Start by adding your yeast and brown sugar to your warm milk.

2. Mix until all your sugar is dissolved, and yeast is fully incorporated.

3. Cover and allow to sit and bloom for 10 minutes.

4. While your yeast is blooming, sift your flour into a bowl.

5. Add salt, cinnamon powder, tonka bean & nutmeg.

6. Mix well until evenly incorporated.

7. Set aside.

8. In another bowl, mix your eggs, lemon juice, vanilla, lemon zest, ginger & food colouring.

9. Once 10 minutes has elapsed, add your egg mixture to your milk mixture.

10. Set aside.

11. Add your margarine and shortening to your flour mixture by breaking them up into small even pieces throughout the mixture.

12. Make a well in the middle of your bowl and begin to add your milk mixture.

13. Bring the dough together in the bowl as illustrated in the video before transferring to your lightly floured counter.

14. Continue to knead for about 8 to 10 minutes.

15. Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover and let rest for 60 minutes.

16. Punch dough & divide into 15 even pieces.

17. Shape into smooth balls as illustrated in the video and place on a greased baking sheet.

18. Cover with a warm cloth and let proof for 2 to 3 hours.

19. For glaze, add water, brown sugar, vanilla, mixed essence, tonka bean, nutmeg, cinnamon bay leaf and ginger to a pot over medium to high heat.

20. Stir until all the sugar has dissolved.

21. Bring mixture to a boil before reducing to a simmer and allowing to cook until it has reduced by half.

22. For your cross, whisk together icing sugar and whole milk to a thick paste.

23. Cover and place in refrigerator.

24. Preheat your oven to 350F.

25. When your buns have fully proofed, place on the middle rack of your oven for even cooking and bake for 20 minutes.

26. Remove from oven and immediately brush glaze onto buns.

27. Allow buns to cool for 15 to 20 minutes before applying the cross.

28. Enjoy!

Tips/Fun Facts

1. Warming milk when blooming yeast offers several benefits, including faster yeast activation, consistent temperature control within the yeast’s optimal range, improved dough development, and enhanced flavor and aroma in the final baked product. This process is crucial for successful fermentation and the overall quality of the bread or baked goods.

2. I prefer brown sugar as white sugar goes through a bleaching process which also removes most of its natural flavor characteristics & micronutrients. Besides adding sweetness to the buns, the natural yeasts in the flour will feed on the sugar which will in turn help to leaven or increase the volume of the dough.

3. Sifting eliminates all the lumps in the flour and gives you a much more consistent product.

4. I’m using an All-Purpose Flour with a relatively high protein content 11-15% which will help with quick gluten development. Think of the protein in flour as individual strands. When you knead the flour, you activate those strands which start to weave themselves together giving the dough its structure.

5. Salt enhances the flavor and helps to balance the sweetness of the brown sugar.

6. Freshly grated tonka bean & nutmeg offers a more intense flavor, enhanced aroma, and better retention of nutrients compared to the pre-packaged powdered versions. The control over quantity, versatility, and longer shelf life of whole spices contribute to their advantages.

7. Beating eggs in advance allows for more efficient and even mixing with other ingredients. This can result in a smoother batter and better overall homogeneity.

8. Vanilla extract offers several advantages over vanilla essence. It provides a natural and richer flavor profile due to its production method involving vanilla bean soaking in alcohol. The alcohol content enhances the complexity of the flavor and contributes to better baking properties. Vanilla extract is often made with high-quality ingredients, making it more versatile for various culinary applications, while vanilla essence may contain artificial flavors and be less robust in taste.

Choosing between them depends on personal preferences and specific recipe requirements.

9. Combining margarine and shortening in leavened baked goods provides advantages such as achieving a balanced texture that is both tender and flaky. Margarine adds flavor and moisture, while shortening contributes to better browning and a higher melting point. This combination allows for cost efficiency, customization of flavor and texture, and can serve as a plant-based alternative to butter in certain recipes. The specific ratio used can be adjusted to meet the desired characteristics of the final product.

10. The choice and amount of each preserved fruit are a personal preference, but for this recipe, I would not use more than 10 oz.

11. When working with protein, it’s best to allow the protein to rest and relax between each stage as the protein strands become tense when worked.


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