Wholemeal hot cross buns

wholemeal hot cross buns recipe

You know when you are flat out super busy and you seem to subconsciously intentionally procrastinate and waste time? Yeah, that’s me today. I started writing this post and then decided to go on a Wikipedia rampage because this post couldn’t be written until I knew the full history of the hot cross bun and then found myself reading about the uniform structure in Russian fairy tales 30 minutes later. 

For those curious cats out there who just neeeed to know the history of the hot cross bun, let me entertain you. The hot cross bun was a dairy free bun that was eaten, you guessed it,  hot (or warm or toasted) during Lent beginning with Shrove Tuesday and until Good Friday. It is rumoured, that the Greeks may have marked the buns with a cross.

There were also many superstitions and English folklore around ye olde tasty hot cross bun. Thank you, Wikipedia

  • Buns baked and served on Good Friday will not spoil or grow mouldy during the subsequent year.
  • Another encourages keeping such a bun for medicinal purposes. A piece of it given to someone ill is said to help them recover.
  • Sharing a hot cross bun with another is supposed to ensure friendship throughout the coming year, particularly if “Half for you and half for me, Between us two shall goodwill be” is said at the time, so some say they should only be cooked one at a time.
  • If taken on a sea voyage, hot cross buns are said to protect against shipwreck.
  • If hung in the kitchen, they are said to protect against fires and ensure that all breads turn out perfectly. The hanging bun is replaced each year.

Hot cross buns are almost as magical as Harry Potter. Well… at least these the buns below were when smothered in salted butter.

plain hot cross bun recipe

Call me crazy, but I cannot stand the traditional hot cross buns (or fruit and nut chocolate or christmas pudding – whaa?! I know). Plain or chocolate chip all the way. Raisins – you’re out. 

This was my first time making hot cross buns at home and although they weren’t as sweet and fluffy as store bought, they were wholemeal and contained hardly any sugar. I was so proud of myself and, dare I say, impressed at my crossing skills. For a first time bun crosser, I did pretty good if I don’t say so myself. 

One of my favourite things about making these hot cross buns (apart from the satisfaction that arose from the cross-making) was how they became pull-apart buns once they had cooked because the dough rose and they stuck together- squeeee! It’s opened a whole pull-apart door for me to explore.. next up is cinnamon scrolls! Am I enjoying baking?! 

wholemeal hot cross buns recipe

Making hot cross buns is a lovely thing to do on a Sunday whilst pottering around home (does anyone potter?) and filling your home with the smell of freshly baked buns. The recipe isn’t very difficult and would be a great weekend activity to bake with the kids too, if you have some of them lying around. 

Do you procrastinate and google weird things when you should be working? Or, do you have any hot cross bun secrets you’d like to share? 


Wholemeal hot cross buns (plain)
Yields 15
A simple, plain, wholemeal hot cross bun perfect for easter morning!
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For the buns
  1. 3 1/2 cups wholemeal flour
  2. 2 x 7g sachets dried yeast
  3. 1/4 cup caster sugar
  4. 1 x 1/2 teaspoons mixed spice
  5. a pinch of salt
  6. 40g butter
  7. 300ml milk
  8. 2 eggs, lightly beaten
For the white cross paste
  1. 1/2 cup plain flour
  2. 4 to 5 tablespoons water
For the glaze
  1. 1/3 cup water
  2. 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  3. Butter, to serve
  1. Combine the flour, yeast, sugar, mixed spice, salt in a large bowl. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the milk. Heat for 1 minute, or until warmed through. Add warm milk mixture and eggs to dough mixture. Use a flat-bladed knife to mix until dough almost comes together. Use clean hands to finish mixing to form a soft dough.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead for 10 minutes, or until dough is smooth. Place into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm, wind-free place for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until dough doubles in size.
  3. Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Punch dough down to its original size. Knead for 30 seconds on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Divide dough into 12 even portions. Shape each portion into a ball. Place balls onto lined tray, about 1cm apart. Cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm, wind-free place for 30 minutes, or until buns double in size. Preheat oven to 190°C or 170˚C fan-force.
  4. Make flour paste: Mix flour and water together in a small bowl until smooth, adding a little more water if paste is too thick. Spoon into a small snap-lock bag. Snip off 1 corner of bag. Pipe flour paste over tops of buns to form crosses. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until buns are cooked through.
  5. Make glaze: Place water and sugar into a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil. Boil for 3-4 minutes. Brush warm glaze over warm hot cross buns. Serve warm or at room temperature with butter.
  1. You can add some cocoa, choc chips or currants for a more festive bun however I am a fan of the plain. You can also use white flour for a lighter, more fluffy bun but I only had enough wholemeal!
Adapted from
Adapted from

(12) Comments

  1. I’m ashamed to say that I google my own name when I am bored/procrastinating 🙂

    P.S why no raisin love?!?!

    1. hehe… I may have done that before!!! I am just not a fan… it’s weird! No raisins ever! x

  2. I love to potter, if only I had more time to do it 🙁 These look great Bec, love the idea of making wholemeal buns too.

    1. Thanks Lauren. Pottering is oh so fun, I plan to get lots done this weekend. Happy Easter x

  3. […] Cadbury cream egg cake is everything. Although these wholemeal hot cross buns look pretty tasty […]

  4. Now that I know HCBs can keep me healthy, make me friends and protect me I have an excuse to eat lots of them! I love that you’ve made a low sugar and wholemeal version, these are right up my alley! Thanks.

    1. I may have eaten 4 on the day of baking, they are so tasty!

  5. Geez, I never knew so much superstition surrounded hot cross buns. Lucky they are delicious.

  6. Ooh I love this version! I’ve never made HCB before – I’m very tempted to give these a try and add a few choc chips.

  7. I never knew all those superstitions about the buns but I’m totally thinking of hanging one up in the kitchen because I’m desperate to bake my own beautiful bread, all year round! Hubster is very anti raisin so he’d love your fruit free version, and I’d be a big fan of the whole wholemeal thing. I’ve never made hot cross buns, but they’re totally going on my cooking bucket list!

  8. Yummy hot cross buns and magnificent crosses Bec! I love pottering around the house. It’s sometimes a way of relaxation for me. I always get sidetracked when working. I open up so many tabs with my favourite online shops, ebay, Pinterest, daily mail and lots of other good stuff. I could sit there for hours. I’m hoping to make some hot cross buns soon. I always wonder how the store bought ones stay fresher longer.

    1. UNfotunatly I think it’s preservatives that make store bought last a little longer. Yay for calming pottering!!!!! xxx

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