Rich and buttery Brioche Hot Cross Buns have a soft and fluffy texture and that classic Hot Cross Bun spicy flavour. Adorned with a classic cross shape, these buns are a springtime Easter treat.
Easter is nearly upon us and a batch of perfectly baked Brioche Hot Cross Buns is the perfect way to celebrate. Easy to make and even easier to enjoy. With a classic spiced flavour that everyone is sure to love, why not whip up a batch this Easter to treat family and friends.
Homemade Hot Cross Buns are actually pretty simple and far tastier than shop-bought offerings, so well worth the effort. You just need to remember to factor in proving times when you are planning to bake them.
Brioche bread, as demonstrated in my Chocolate Brioche Bread, is beautifully light and fluffy. The additional eggs also give it that distinct yellow colouring and totally melts in the mouth when toasted and buttered.
Why make Ella's Better Bakes Brioche Hot Cross Buns?
Lighter and fluffier than normal hot cross buns✔️
Traditional Hot Cross Bun spicy flavour✔️
Sultanas soaked zests and fruit juice✔️
Bread flour used to retain a bready texture✔️
Made with 3 whole eggs✔️
Perfect Easter treat✔️
See recipe card for quantities.
- Sultanas (can be replaced with raisins)
- Mixed spice (can be replaced with a mix of other spices - see recipe card)
- Ground cinnamon
- Bread flour
- Unsalted butter
- Caster (superfine) sugar (can be replaced with golden caster sugar)
- Dried yeast
- Whole milk
- Vanilla extract (optional)
- Orange and lemon
Brief instructions are noted below however please see the Recipe Card for more detail.
How to Make Brioche Hot Cross Buns
Add the zest of an orange and a lemon, plus a tablespoon of orange juice to your sultanas, mix and set aside.
Sift together your flour salt and spices and then stir in your yeast and then your sugar. Make a well in the centre.
Heat your milk until just warm (baby bath temperature, warm but not hot) and then pour it into your flour mixture. With the dough hook fitted, mix a few times just to start to incorporate.
Add all of your eggs and again mix until they have just started to blend in a little and then add all of your very soft butter and leave to knead, on the lowest setting, for 9 minutes.
Add your soaked sultanas, your mixed peel and vanilla extract to your brioche dough and mix for a further minute. The dough will be wetter than normal bread dough, quite elastic and should smooth.
Remove the dough onto a generously floured work surface and knead 2-3 times. Oil the bowl (any flavourless oil is fine to use) and return the dough to the bowl. Cover with oiled clingfilm (plastic wrap) and leave to prove for 1-2 hours until doubled.
Remove the brioche dough and form into a circle of about 20 cm, then cut into quarters and then each quarter into three. Each segment should weigh around 100 grams. Roll into balls.
Place onto lined baking sheets, cover loosely again with oiled cling film and leave to prove for 30-45 minutes until well risen.
Adding the Hot Cross Bun Cross
Mix together flour and water into a thick paste. Cut the end off a piping bag and fill it with the paste. Starting at the brioche hot cross bun nearest to you, pipe a continual line of paste in vertically without stopping, so that it runs over the space in between the buns too. Do the same ongoing in the other direction.
Bake your Brioche Hot Cross Buns in a hot oven for 20 minutes until dark golden. Whilst they bake melt your apricot jam gently until runny and then paint it over your buns as soon as they come out of the oven. Then leave to cool on a cooling rack.
Chocolate Chip Brioche Hot Cross Buns: Instead of sultanas add 100 grams of dark chocolate chips to the dough, or better still add the zest of a whole orange too for chocolate and orange brioche buns.
Cranberry and Orange Brioche Hot Cross Buns: replace the sultanas with dried cranberries and add the zest of an orange for a fruity tangy flavour.
Savoury Brioche Hot Cross Buns: this time take out all of the raisins and spices and simply add 100 grams of grated strong cheddar and a tablespoon of chopped fresh thyme leaves.
As with scones, Brioche Hot Cross Buns are best served on the day they are baked. Store them in an air-tight container and they will be fine for up to 2 days. They can be frozen and should be eaten within 3 months.
Top tips for perfect Brioche Hot Cross Buns
- Sift flour and spices - you can just add these ingredients without sifting but often the spices can be a little clumpy and therefore sifting ensures they are mixed in equally.
- Scrape down your bowl during kneading regularly - often flour sits at the base and your butter can stay in clumps, so giving your brioche dough a regular mix prevents this.
- Use a dough scraper to cut your brioche up, it cuts through far easier than a knife.
- The paste for the cross needs to be stiff but not overly so, otherwise, it will be quite rubbery, add your water gradually and keep testing it.
Hot Cross Buns were originally created by monks in the 12th century to symbolise the crucifixion of Jesus, and to mark the end of Lent. Their uniquely sweet, spiced dough is a traditional Easter treat in many countries and they are usually eaten on Good Friday.
Some other savoury recipes on Ella's Better Bakes that you may like to try...
Chocolate Brioche Bread is an absolute dream for a special breakfast.
Fancy a twist to traditional bread pudding? Then you may like to try this gorgeous Baileys Bread and Butter Pudding.
These Mini Egg Brownies make a fabulous Easter treat.
Brioche Hot Cross Buns
Here's what you'll need...
- 2 Large baking trays
- Piping bag
Ingredients you'll need...
Hot Cross Buns
- 100` g Sultanas (⅔ Cup)
- 60 g Mixed peel (¼ Cup)
- 1 Orange - zest and a tablespoon of juice
- 1 Lemon - zest zest
- 500 g Strong white bread flour (3⅔ Cups)
- 7 g Sachet of fast-acting yeast
- 70 g Caster (superfine) sugar (5 level tablespoons)
- 1 teaspoon Fine salt
- 1 teaspoon Mixed spice or 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon and ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon Ground cinnamon
- 250 ml Whole milk warmed (1 Cup)
- 3 Large eggs at room temperature
- 100 g Unsalted butter very soft and cut into cubes (1 Cup or 1 Stick)
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
- 75 g Flour (½ Cup)
- 7 tablespoon Cold water
- 150 g Apricot jam (½ of a standard jar)
Here's what we do...
- Mix your sultanas, mixed peel, orange zest and orange juice and lemon zest together and set aside to soak for at least 10 minutes (keep stirring intermittently to be sure they are equally soaking up the juice).
- Sift together your flour, salt and spices into a large bowl (or your stand mixer bowl).
- Stir in your sugar and then your yeast and make a well in the centre, ready to pour your wet ingredients into.
- Heat your milk until warm, it should be warm but not hot, similar to the temperature of baby's bath water.
- Fit your dough hook to your stand mixer and pour your warm milk into your flour mixture. Mix for about 20 seconds on a low setting to start to incorporate the milk .
- Add your 3 eggs and again mix until they just start to combine.
- Add your butter (this must be really nice and soft so that it easily breaks down) and then leave to mix on the lowest setting of your mixer for 9 minutes. Stop every 2-3 minutes to give the bowl a wipe-down with your spatula to ensure all of the flour is being incorporated.
- The dough is ready once it has an elastic quality to it. It will be quite wet and tacky i.e. wetter than normal bread dough.
- Add your soaked sultanas and vanilla extract to the dough and mix for another minute.
- Remove the dough from the mixer bowl and place it on a very well floured surface.
- Oil the bowl, to stop the dough from sticking when you replace it, I used olive oil.
- Knead the dough a few times, then make it into a ball shape and return it to your oiled bowl, cover the bowl with oiled clingfilm (plastic wrap).
- Leave to rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours. It is ready when it has doubled in size, so the length of time needed depends on how warm your room is.
- Line the base of your baking sheets with greaseproof (parchment) paper.
- Tip your brioche dough out onto a floured surface, form it into a large circle, cut it into quarters and then each quarter into 3. Each piece should weigh around 100 grams each. Roll each one into a ball, try to ensure the top is smooth
- Place the balls onto your lined baking trays, leave a gap between each one of about an inch.
- Loosely cover the trays with oiled clingfilm (plastic wrap) and leave the buns to rise for 30-45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make your paste for your cross.
- Mix your flour with your cold water until it form a smooth paste, try not to overmix otherwise it will become rubbery.
- Cut the tip off a piping bag (about ½cm wide) and fill with the paste, squish it down to the base.
- Heat your oven to 220°C/200°C Fan/425F/Gas mark 7.
- Once your brioche buns have risen again, pipe a cross over the top. Start at the bun nearest to you and pipe a continual line, so that it runs over each bun, then repeat with a line the other way. Hold the bag above the bun as you squeeze so that it drops onto it.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until nice and browned.
- Whilst making heat your apricot jam until runny, as soon as your buns are out of the oven paint your melted jam over the top using your pastry brush.
- Leave to cool on a cooling rack.