Golden saffron hot cross buns

Golden saffron hot cross buns
  • Serves icon Makes 12 buns
  • Time icon Hands-on time 45 min, proving time 2 hours 30 min, oven time 25 min

Dan Lepard’s tips and tricks will ensure you’re well equipped to make this hot cross bun recipe with ease.

It might seem unreasonable to expect you’d have any leftover from this recipe, but if you do, find out what to do with leftover hot cross buns.

Nutrition: per serving

Calories
547kcals
Fat
10.5g (5.4g saturated)
Protein
12g
Carbohydrates
103.2g (44.6g sugars)
Fibre
6.4g
Salt
1.1g
Calories
547kcals
Fat
10.5g (5.4g saturated)
Protein
12g
Carbohydrates
103.2g (44.6g sugars)
Fibre
6.4g
Salt
1.1g

Per bun

Ingredients

  • 300ml whole milk
  • ¼ tsp powdered saffron or a good pinch saffron threads (see tips)
  • 100g cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 50g clear honey (see tips)
  • 2 medium free-range eggs (plus 1 extra egg, beaten with a pinch of salt)
  • 150ml warm water
  • 7g sachet fast- action yeast
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp orange extract
  • 150g dried apricots, chopped
  • 175g sultanas
  • 175g currants
  • 200g chopped mixed peel
  • 3 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 800g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
  • Vegetable oil for greasing and (optional) kneading

For the crosses

  • 150g strong white flour
  • Juice ½ lemon
  • 150-200ml water

For the spiced glaze

  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp clear honey
  • ½ tsp ground mixed spice
  • 75ml orange juice

Key equipment

  • Baking sheets
  • Piping bag
  • Pastry brush

Method

  1. Bring the milk to the boil in a saucepan, then add the saffron. Put the cold cubed butter and 50g honey in a large mixing bowl, pour over the saffron milk and leave for 5 minutes or until the butter melts.
  2. Add the 2 eggs, warm water, yeast, and vanilla and orange extracts, then whisk to combine. Stir in the dried fruit and mixed peel, then the mixed spice, cornflour and salt. Add the 800g flour, then mix together with your hands to form a soft, sticky dough. If the dough feels firm, add a splash more water. Cover the bowl with lightly oiled cling film, then set aside for 10 minutes.
  3. Lightly oil or flour the worktop, then turn out the dough and give it a quick knead (about 10 seconds). Put it back in the bowl and re-cover with the cling film, then leave in a warm, draft-free place (see Dan’s Tips For Success, below) for 90 minutes. Give it another quick knead halfway through.
  4. Line a baking sheet with baking paper. Cut the dough into 12 x 180g pieces. Pat each piece flat, pull the edges into the centre to round the shape, then turn over and shape into a smooth ball. Put each bun rough side down on the sheet, then cover and leave to rise somewhere warm and draft-free for 1 hour or until nearly doubled in size. Sit the buns close together but not touching; as they’ll expand as they rise so their edges fit snugly together.
  5. When the buns are almost ready, heat the oven to 200°C/fan180°C/gas 6. For the crosses, beat the ingredients in a mixing bowl to make a thick but pipeable batter. Leave for 10 minutes, then spoon into a piping bag and set aside.
  6. Brush the risen buns with the beaten egg and salt mixture, then pipe crosses over the top (see Dan’s tips for success below). Bake for 25 minutes or until golden.
  7. Meanwhile, put the spiced glaze ingredients in a pan and boil to a thick syrup. Remove the buns from the oven, then brush with the glaze while hot. Cool on wire racks.

delicious. tips

  1. Dan’s tips for success:

    Moisture: The fruit will plump up and absorb water as the dough rises, so don’t worry if the dough feels quite sticky to begin with.

    Warmth: It’s crucial to keep the dough, and later the shaped buns, warm and humid as they rise – the dough loses heat quickly, especially when cut into pieces. If the dough or buns get too cold and dry, the buns will be heavy once baked. I cover the dough/buns with oiled cling film, then a tea towel, then put in a switched off but still warm oven that had been heated to no more than 50°C/fan30°C.

    Timing: The baking time seems short, but the buns continue to cook when out of the oven.

    The finish: It’s easier to pipe the crosses onto the buns in one long line so you get a smooth result.

  2. Freeze the just-baked, cooled buns in an airtight container between layers of baking paper for up to 3 months. When defrosted they’ll be as good as just-baked.

  3. Buy powdered saffron at saffronline.co.uk or grind it from the threads.

    You can leave the dough to rise in the fridge overnight, then bring it to room temperature before shaping it, but the buns won’t be quite as light and fluffy in texture.

    This recipe gives a weight for honey rather than a measure such as 2 tbsp. It’s more accurate and less messy (especially if you have scales that can be reset to zero).

Recipe By

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Reviews

Read what others say...

  1. This is an amazing recipe, I have never tried a hot cross bun quite like this ( even if I do say so myself!). I also made my buns a lot smaller than recommended ( and they were still huge!). I made 20 weighting 120g each. This isn’t a quick recipe, it took me all day but it was so worth it and makes the house smell amazing when they are cooking.

  2. Fantastic recipe. I made a huge batch of these. However I also added some extra spices as well. People at the office raved about them. Lovely colour with the saffron.

  3. Made up a batch today, delicious as ever. I forgot to add in my previous comment, this would make enormous buns if divided into twelve. I made 20 from this mixture weighing between 100 & 110g before the 2nd prove. They were still a very generous size. Give them a try and enjoy bun heaven

  4. I’ve made these several times, always with excellent results and have passed the recipe on to fellow bakers who have also been delighted. Friends that I have given them to have requested more. Today I am going to add in some glacé cherries and top them with sugar pearls and serve as fruit buns as it really isn’t hot cross bun season.

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