Cheese & Marmite Hot Cross Buns

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These cheese & marmite hot cross buns pack a serious punch! Made with 2 types of cheese & a tangzhong for extra flavour & a fluffy texture.

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cheese & marmite hot cross buns

A batch of Easter hot cross buns with a savoury twist!

This batch of hot cross buns are incredibly soft & fluffy, thanks to the addition of a tangzhong in the dough. Flavoured with marmite & packed full of mature cheddar & red Leicester, these buns pack quite the punch!

Love or hate marmite, you’re sure to be a fan of the hot cross buns! The flavour of the marmite isn’t overpowering but does a fantastic job of complementing & enhancing the flavour of the cheese. Great served with lashings of salted butter, either toasted or untoasted.

Looking for more bread recipes to try? Then check out our ever growing collection of bread recipes! We have a wide collection of recipes from classic burger buns, to potato foccacia & tear & share cheesy garlic bread.

What Are Hot Cross Bun?

Typically eaten at Easter, hot cross buns are made with an enriched & spiced yeasted dough & are full of dried fruit & zest. The cross on top is made of flour & water paste and is piped on top of the buns before they are baked. Often, these are glazed with jam, to finish.

For this recipe, we’re making savoury hot cross buns which means that we are leaving out the fruit & spices and replacing them with grated cheese & marmite. For an extra hit of flavour, we’re also adding mustard powder into the flour paste, for the crosses.

cheesy hot cross buns
hot cross bun crumb

What You’ll Need

  • Flour – You’ll need a strong white bread flour for this recipe. The protein content should be between 12-15%. I use a Canadian white bread flour from Shipton Mill in the UK but most bread flours will work.
  • Yeast – This recipe uses instant yeast which can be added directly into the flour. Dried active yeast can be used instead but will need to be whisked into warm milk & left to go frothy before using. Keep in mind that this yeast will need to prove for longer.
  • Milk – Whole milk works best for this dough because of its’ higher fat content. Semi skimmed milk will also work though.
  • Salt – A good quality sea salt makes all the difference when making bread doughs. I use Maldon salt.
  • Egg – You’ll need an egg yolk for the dough & a whole egg for the egg wash.
  • Butter – Make sure to use unsalted butter for the dough, so that it’s not too salty. The melted butter that’s brushed on top of the buns can be unsalted or salted.
  • Cheese – We’re using mature cheddar & red Leicester which gives the buns a strong enough flavour & colour. Feel free to use different cheeses if you’d prefer though.
  • Marmite – A spread made from yeast extract. Marmite packs quite a strong flavour, so we’re only using two teaspoons for this recipe.
  • Milk Powder – A small amount of skimmed milk powder gives the buns a deeper, golden colour once baked. Adding this is optional though.
  • Mustard Powder – We’re adding a small amount of English mustard powder into the flour paste (for the cross). This is optional but adds extra flavour to the buns.

How To Make Cheese & Marmite Hot Cross Buns

The full, printable recipe card for these hot cross buns can be found at the bottom of this post!

Recipe Breakdown

  1. Tangzhong – First, we need to make a tangzhong. To do this, we whisk together flour, milk & water in a saucepan then cook over a low heat, into a thick paste. The tangzhong then gets left, to cool to room temperature.
  2. Making The Dough – Now onto the dough. For this, we microwave milk & marmite together (to 38°c/100°f) then add into the bowl of a stand mixer, along with bread flour, sea salt, instant yeast, an egg yolk & a small amount of milk powder.
    The dough now gets mixed (with a dough hook) until it’s smooth then we gradually mix in softened butter & continue kneading until the dough passes the windowpane test (more on this below). To finish, we add in the grated cheese then knead it in by hand (this stops the cheese clumping together).
  3. First Rise – Next, we transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl then leave it to double in size, at room temperature. Depending on how warm your kitchen is, this will take between 1-2 hours.
  4. Knocking Back – Once risen, we knock the dough back then portion it into 9 even pieces. Each piece should weigh around 90 grams.
  5. Shaping – Now to shape the buns. To do this, take a piece of dough & bring the edges into the middle. Flip the dough over & use cupped hands to shape the dough into a tight ball. Dragging the bottom on the work surface as you shape, helps increase surface tension.
  6. Second Rise – Once shaped, we transfer the buns to a lined baking tray then cover & leave to rise again, at room temp. This time until the dough has increased in size by 75%. This will take around 1-1½ hours.
  7. Piping Crosses – Once risen again, we brush each bun with egg wash. Next, we make a thick, smooth paste consisting of plain flour, mustard powder & cold water then use this to pipe a cross on top of each bun.
  8. Baking – Now we bake the hot cross buns in a 180°c/356°f oven for 20-25 minutes, until a deep golden brown. Then once baked, we brush each bun with melted butter then leave to cool completely.

The Windowpane Test

We use the windowpane method to assess how the gluten is developing in bread dough. To do this, take a small amount of dough & stretch it between your fingers. If it stretches thin enough to see through, it’s ready. If it tears, it needs to be kneaded for longer.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will hot cross buns keep for?

Kept in an airtight container, hot cross buns will keep for several days. If they start to dry out, they are just as good toasted!

What type of flour is best for hot cross buns?

To make hot cross buns, you’ll need to use a strong white bread flour with a protein content of 12-15%. I use a Canadian white bread flour from Shipton Mill in the UK.

What type of yeast is best for hot cross buns?

We’re using instant/fast action yeast for these hot cross buns, which doesn’t need activating (it can be added directly into the flour). Dried active yeast can also be used but will need to be activated in the warm milk first. To do this, mix in the yeast then leave to go frothy, which will take around 5 minutes.

Can I use different cheeses?

We’re using cheddar & red Leicester in these hot cross buns for a strong enough flavour & colour. But if you’d prefer, other grated cheeses will also work. Parmesan or gruyere would be two good choices.

What should savoury hot cross buns be served with?

I like to serve these cheese & marmite hot cross buns with just butter but they’re great served with some sliced cheese & more marmite! These are just as good wether they’re toasted or not.

What is a tangzhong?

A technique that originates from Asia, a tangzhong is where a small amount of the flour & liquid in a bread recipe is pre cooked in a saucepan to make a thick paste (like a roux). This paste is then cooled down & added in to the dough along with the remaining flour & liquid.

piped flour crosses

Cooking Hot Cross Buns In An Aga

With all of my recipes, I include cooking instructions for conventional ovens, fan ovens & also Agas.

Cook the tangzhong using the simmering plate & bake the hot cross buns in the baking oven, on the bottom set of runners.

Equipment Used

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More Bread Recipes To Try!

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Cheese & Marmite Hot Cross Buns

These cheese & marmite hot cross buns pack a serious punch! Made with 2 types of cheese & a tangzhong for extra flavour & a fluffy texture.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Proving Time3 hours
Total Time3 hours 45 minutes
Course: Baking, Bread, Lunch
Cuisine: English
Servings: 9 Hot Cross Buns
Author: Ben Racey

Equipment

  • Stand Mixer
  • Small Saucepan
  • Heatproof Jug
  • Digital Food Probe
  • Cheese Grater
  • Mixing Bowls
  • Large Baking Tray
  • Piping Bag
  • Dough Scraper
  • Bench Knife

Ingredients

Tangzhong

  • 20 g Strong White Bread Flour
  • 40 g Whole Milk
  • 40 g Water

Dough

  • 380 g Strong White Bread Flour
  • 5 g Fast Action/Instant Yeast
  • 6 g Sea Salt I Use Maldon
  • 1 tsp Skimmed Milk Powder Optional
  • 1 Egg Yolk
  • 160 g Whole Milk
  • 2 tsp Marmite
  • 35 g Unsalted Butter Softened
  • 75 g Red Leicester Grated
  • 75 g Mature Cheddar Grated

Cross

  • 2 tbsp Plain Flour
  • ½ tsp English Mustard Powder
  • Cold Water

Egg Wash

  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tsp Whole Milk

To Finish

  • 20 g Melted Butter

Instructions

Tangzhong

  • Place the flour, milk & water into a small saucepan & whisk to combine. Cook over a low heat until you have a thick paste, stirring constantly with a spatula.
  • Transfer the tangzhong to a bowl & leave to cool to room temperature.

Dough

  • Place the flour, instant yeast, salt, milk powder (if using) & egg yolk into the bowl of a stand mixer, with the dough hook attached.
  • Next, place the marmite & milk into a heatproof jug then microwave until it reaches a temperature of 38°c/100°f. Stir the warm milk, to melt the marmite then pour into the flour.
  • Mix the dough on a medium speed for 4-5 minutes, until smooth then with the mixer still running, add in the butter a small piece at a time. Make sure to let each piece of butter mix in fully before adding in more.
  • Once all the butter has been added, keep kneading the dough for another 5 minutes or so, until it passes the windowpane test.
  • Next, take the mixing bowl off the mixer then add in the grated cheeses. Gently knead the cheese into the dough by hand then transfer to an oiled mixing bowl. Cover with clingfilm then leave to double in size at room temperature. This will take 1-2 hours.
  • Once the dough has risen, knock it back, tip out onto a clean work surface then divide into 9 equal pieces, using a bench knife. Each piece should weigh around 90 grams.
  • Shape each piece of dough into a ball then place onto a lined baking tray, in 3 rows of 3, leaving a couple of centimetres between each bun. Cover the tray lightly with clingfilm (or an upside down roasting tin) & leave to prove for another 1-1½ hours, until almost doubled in size.
    The buns should have risen by about 75%.
  • Whilst your buns are rising, preheat an oven to 180°c/160°c fan (356°f/320°f).

Baking

  • Place the plain flour & mustard powder (for the cross) into a small mixing bowl then whisk in enough cold water to make a smooth & thick (but pipe able) paste*. Transfer into a piping bag.
    *Start with a tbsp of water then add in more as necessary.
  • Whisk together the egg & milk for the egg wash then brush a light layer over each bun.
  • Next, snip the end off the piping bag then pipe a cross over the top of each bun.
  • Bake the hot cross buns for 20-25 minutes, until a deep golden brown then brush the top of each bun with melted butter. Leave to cool completely then serve.
    Melt the butter just before the hot cross buns come out of the oven!

Notes

1. Cooking In An Aga – Cook the tangzhong using the simmering plate & bake the hot cross buns in the baking oven, on the bottom set of runners.
2. Cheese – I used a mix of mature cheddar & red Leicester for the best colour & flavour. But feel free to use different cheeses if you’d prefer. Parmesan or gruyere would be some other good options.
3. Flour – You’ll need a strong white bread flour for this recipe (12-15% protein). I use a Canadian white bread flour from Shipton Mill in the UK.
4. Yeast – We’re using instant yeast in this recipe which doesn’t need activating before using. Dried active yeast can also be used but will need to be mixed into the warm milk & left to go frothy before adding to the flour. Keep in mind that the dough will take a bit longer to rise as well.
5. Skimmed Milk Powder – Adding milk powder to the dough is optional but helps give the hot cross buns a deeper, golden colour once baked.
6. Storage – These hot cross buns are best eaten on the same day as being made but will keep for several days if stored in an airtight container. The hot cross buns can also be toasted to serve. They’ll still be just as good!

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