Introduction: Making Healthier Easter Hot Cross Buns

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Easter Week has come fast!  Several people have asked me to please post a more healthy recipe of Hot Cross Buns.  Several ideas have been suggested with the thought that with all the Easter candy and other treats, a more wholesome breakfast would be appreciated.  I have taken my mother's recipe and "tweaked" it some to cut down on some of the over-processed ingredients.  So, let's get started!

Original Recipe:                                         New Recipe

Dry Ingredients

½ C. Sugar

1 pkg. Active Dry Yeast

4 C. All Purpose Flour

½ C. Additional Flour

½ tsp. baking powd.

½ tsp. baking soda

2 tsp salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp cardamom

¼ tsp Nutmeg

¼ tsp allspice

½ C. raisins

½ C. glazed walnuts

½ C. dried apricots pieces

chopped to raisin size

Wet Ingredients:

2 C. whole milk

½ C. Canola oil


1 egg white

1 Tbsp milk


2 C powd. sugar

1 C. softened butter

2 TBSP milk

1 Tsp vanilla

Dry Ingredients:

2 Tbsp Truvia (Stevia Sugar)-or liquid equivelent added to liquid ingredients

1 pkg Active Dry Yeast

6 C. whole wheat pastry flour

2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp cardamom

¼ tsp Nutmeg

¼ tsp allspice

½ C. raisins

½ C. glazed walnuts

½ C. dried apricots pieces

chopped to raisin size

Wet Ingredients:

½ c. warm water (for yeast)

2 large eggs-beaten  (reserve about ¼ of it)

3 Tbsp. honey

1 C. VERY hot water

1 C. cold buttermilk

¼ C. butter-room temperature

Pre Bake Glaze:

1 egg white

1 Tbsp milk

Post bake glaze          Icing:

3 Tbsp Honey         ½ C. soft                     

1 Tbsp butter          cream cheese

                               2 Tbsp honey

Mix the flour, stevia powder and the salt in a bowl.  (If you have chosen to use liquid Stevia, add it later with the liquid ingredients.) In a separate large bowl, break the eggs and beat slightly, then set aside about 3 tbsp to be used later for the pre-bake glaze.  Mix in the honey and the HOT water at this point and then add in the butter milk and liquid Stevia if you are using it.  Then the yeast last.  Some recipes at this point direct you to add the liquids to a “well” formed in the dry ingredients, but I prefer to add the dry ingredients to the liquid a little bit at a time and avoid the hard to reach dry spot at the bottom of the bowl.  Eventually, this will all form a thick, sticky dough and you may either turn it out onto a lightly floured surface to begin to knead it, or, if you have a dough hook or blade for your mixer, you can use that.  When the dough becomes silky and elastic, I like to add the butter by smearing it on the counter, taking the ball of dough and kneading by hand until the butter is absorbed by the dough.  Again, if you have dough mixer, you can add the butter by just mixing it in.

Now is the time to add the spices and nut/fruit mixture.  Again, place the dough ball onto a lightly floured surface and spread it out into a large, flat pancake looking thing.  Lightly sprinkle some of the combined spices and a handful of fruit/nut mix, and knead gently.  continue this process two or three times until all the fruit/nut mixture is used.  There should be a little of the spice mix left for the butter-honey post-bake glazing.

After adding the fruit, cover the dough in a large glass or ceramic bowl and allow to rise in a warm, draft free place for about an hour and a half.  ***Tip*** I usually turn on my oven to 200* F while I am kneading, and when it reaches the temperature, I TURN OFF the oven.  This is usually just about the time I am ready to let the dough rise, so I place the covered bowl into the 200* TURNED OFF oven.

After about an hour and a half, try inserting your moistened finger into the dough up to your first knuckle- if it does not spring back, it is time to “punch down” the first rising.  If it isn’t ready, let it rise a bit more.

I use this big mixing cup for mixing my dough and for letting it rise.  It is by Pampered Chef ® ( and is one of my “essentials” I use for all my baking.

After kneading it down, be sure to make smooth ball again, and set it to rise, as the first time.  The second rising will be about half the time of the first.

When the second rising is finished, again knead down the dough and then make your buns.  I use a small ice cream scoop to get balls just slightly larger than a golf ball.  I roll them into a ball, and then continue to smooth the tops and sides under the bottom until none of the fruit shows.  I can usually place three side by side into 5 rows on a standard cookie sheet.  I also have a smaller clay baking stone by Pampered Chef ® ( that I really like, because it doesn’t let the bottoms of the dough burn

Now let your buns have one more rising- again, I warm the oven to the 200*F and then turn it off, and place  my COVERED cookie sheet or stone into the oven for the last rising-about 30-45 minutes.

Make the pre-bake glaze using the set aside eggs and about a tsp of water.  Using a pastry brush, brush the tops of each bun, after they are finished rising.

Another thing that is helpful, is after the glaze is on, take a table knife, and using the NON CUTTING EDGE, gently indent the cross on the top of the buns- DO NOT CUT INTO THEM

Then bake at 375* for 30-45 minues

  Ok, the nose has detected a wonderful scent, and now the buzzer has gone off, and it is time to get those babies out’ta the oven! The next step is to let them cool a bit while you whip up the post-baking glaze.

Mix together the honey and butter and add the left over spices from the spice mix.  It does help to zap it in the microwave for about 5-8 seconds-just enough to make it easy for your pastry brush to apply.

Let this whole project rest now, until the buns are cooled.  It is ok after about 15-20 minutes to move them, but I leave them on the baking sheet until after I have applied the frosting.  If I am going to take them somewhere, I will cover them with plastic wrap or put them in a sealed container until the next morning.  Then when they are on the pretty plate, I will add the frosting.

So, now that you are ready to frost them, mix together your cream cheese and honey, put in a Zip Lock ® bag, and cut a VERY SMALL tip off the corner of the bag.  This makes a great piping dispenser, and then you aren’t looking around for your piping bag and tip.

Time to Serve and ENJOY


     Kneaded Creation!