Tangzhong Hot Cross Buns

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A batch of classic hot cross buns, made with a tangzhong for an extra fluffy texture. These are full of tea soaked fruit & glazed with golden syrup.

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tangzhong hot cross buns

A batch of classic hot cross buns, made with a tangzhong for the fluffiest ever texture!

These homemade hot cross buns are incredibly soft, flavoured with warming spices & sweet orange zest and are absolutely jam packed full of tea soaked fruit. Finished with a rich golden syrup glaze, these are fantastic served with a generous amount of salted butter. A next level Easter bake!

If you’re looking for a batch of savoury hot cross buns to make, you should check out our cheese & marmite hot cross buns! Or for more baking recipes, take a look at our ever growing collection of bread, cakes & cookie recipes.

What Are Hot Cross Buns?

Hot cross buns are a traditional Easter bread, made with an enriched & spiced yeast dough and are full of dried fruit, candied peel & fresh zest. The cross on top of each bun is made of a flour & water paste and is piped on top just before baking. Often, hot cross buns are glazed once baked, usually with apricot jam, marmalade or golden syrup.

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. Breads made with a tangzhong are lighter & fluffier and tend to keep fresh for an extra day or two.

a dozen hot cross buns

Ingredient Notes

  • Flour – For these hot cross buns, you’ll to need use a strong white bread flour with a protein content of 12-15%. To make the crosses, you’ll need a small amount of plain flour.
  • Yeast – Instant yeast works great for these buns & can be added directly into the flour. Dried active yeast can be used instead but will need activating in warm milk first.
  • Sugar – We’re using light brown sugar for a deeper, caramelised flavour. Caster sugar can be used instead though.
  • Salt – A good quality sea salt makes all the difference in bread recipes. I use Maldon salt but any fine sea salt will work as well.
  • Milk – Whole milk works best as its’ higher fat content gives the buns a softer texture.
  • Butter – Make sure to use unsalted butter so that the dough isn’t too salty.
  • Fruit – For traditional hot cross buns, we’re using sultanas/raisins & currants. Feel free to use different dried fruits if you’d prefer.
  • Tea – We’re using hot, black tea to soak the fruit in. I use Yorkshire tea but other teas will works as well. Earl Grey would be another good choice.
  • Spices – We’re flavouring the dough with cinnamon, ginger, allspice & nutmeg.
  • Milk Powder – Adding skimmed milk powder to the dough is optional but gives the baked buns, a deeper finish once baked.
  • Egg Wash – To give our hot cross buns the best colour & finish once baked, we’re using an egg wash made up of 1 egg & 1 tsp of whole milk. This gets brushed onto the buns before the crosses are piped on.
  • Golden Syrup Glaze – To glaze our baked hot cross buns, we’re melting together golden syrup & butter then brushing this all over. Apricot jam or marmalade will work as well.
hot cross bun crumb

How To Make Tangzhong 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. Soaking The Fruit – First, we pour hot tea over the sultanas & currant then leave to soak for an hour.
  2. Tangzhong – Next, 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.
  3. Dough – Onto the dough. For this, we place the flour, yeast, sugar, salt, milk powder (if using), eggs, vanilla, orange zest, spices & the warm milk. 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 drain the soaked fruit then add into the dough along with the mixed peel. The fruit then gets mixed into the dough, until well incorporated.
  1. 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 1-1½ hours.
  2. Knocking Back – Once risen, we knock the dough back then portion it into 12 even pieces. Each piece should weigh around 100 grams.
  3. Shaping – Now to shape the buns. To do this, take a piece of dough & bring the edges into the middle. Next, 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. Repeat this process with the remaining pieces of dough.
  1. Second Rise – Once shaped, we transfer the buns to a lined baking tray then cover (either with clingfilm or an upside down roasting tin) & 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.
  2. Piping Crosses – Once risen again, we brush each bun with egg wash. Next, we make a thick, smooth paste consisting of plain flour & cold water then use this to pipe a cross on top of each bun.
  3. 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 golden syrup glaze then leave to cool completely.
piped crosses

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 flour is best for hot cross buns?

You’ll need to use a strong white bread flour for these hot cross buns. Make sure to use a flour with a protein content of 12-15%.

What fruit is best for hot cross buns?

Traditional hot cross buns are made with dried fruit, usually sultanas, raisins & currants. Candied peel & orange zest are also used for extra flavour! The dried fruit is also soaked in tea before being added to the dough, to plump them up, for added flavour & to prevent them from drying out the bread.

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.

Cooking Hot Cross Buns On An Aga

With all of my recipes, I include cooking instructions for conventional ovens, fan ovens & also Agas. Here’s how to cook this recipe on an Aga…

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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tangzhong hot cross buns
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Tangzhong Hot Cross Buns

A batch of classic hot cross buns, made with a tangzhong for an extra fluffy texture. These are full of tea soaked fruit & glazed with golden syrup.
Prep Time1 hour
Cook Time25 minutes
Proving Time2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time3 hours 55 minutes
Course: Baking, Bread, Breakfast, Lunch
Cuisine: English
Servings: 12 Hot Cross Buns
Author: Ben Racey

Equipment

  • Stand Mixer
  • Small Saucepan
  • Digital Food Probe
  • Mixing Bowls
  • Dough Scraper
  • Bench Knife
  • Piping Bag
  • Large Baking Tray
  • Pastry Brush

Ingredients

Soaked Fruit

  • 140 g Sultanas/Raisins
  • 40 g Currants
  • 250 ml Black Tea See Notes

Tangzhong

  • 25 g Strong White Bread Flour
  • 50 g Whole Milk
  • 50 g Water

Dough

  • 500 g Strong White Bread Flour
  • 8 g Instant/Fast Action Yeast
  • 55 g Light Brown Sugar
  • 8 g Fine Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp Skimmed Milk Powder Optional
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1 Egg Yolk
  • ½ tsp Vanilla Extract
  • Zest Of 1 Orange
  • 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Ground Ginger
  • ½ tsp Ground Allspice
  • ¼ tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • 190 g Whole Milk
  • 55 g Unsalted Butter Softened
  • 1 tbsp Mixed Peel

Cross

  • 3 tbsp Plain Flour
  • 2-3 tbsp Cold Water

Egg Wash

  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tsp Whole Milk

Glaze

  • 75 g Golden Syrup
  • 25 g Unsalted Butter

Instructions

Soaked Fruit

  • Place the sultanas & currants into a mixing bowl then pour over 250ml of freshly brewed black tea. Leave to soak for an hour.

Tangzhong

  • Whilst your fruit is soaking, make the tangzhong. To do this, place the flour, milk & water into a small saucepan & whisk to combine. Cook this 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

  • Into the bowl of a stand mixer, place the flour, yeast, sugar, salt, milk powder (if using), egg, yolk, vanilla, orange zest, spices & the cooled down tangzhong.
  • Next, warm the milk to 38°c/100°f (either in the microwave or on the stove) then add into the flour.
  • Using the dough hook, mix the dough on a medium speed for 4-5 until smooth then mix the softened butter in, a small piece at a time. Make sure that each piece of butter is fully incorporated before adding in more.
  • Continue mixing on a medium speed until the dough passes the window pane test. This will take around 5 minutes.
    To perform the window pane test, stretch a small amount of dough between your fingers. If the dough stretches thin enough so that you can see your fingers through it without tearing, it's ready.
  • Next, drain the soaked fruit through a sieve, discarding the liquid then add the fruit into the dough along with the mixed peel. Mix on a medium-low speed until fully incorporated (3-4 minutes).
  • Transfer the dough to an oiled mixing bowl then cover & leave to prove at room temperature, until doubled in size. This will take 1-1½ hours.
  • Once the dough has risen, knock it back, tip out onto a clean work surface then divide into 12 equal pieces, using a bench knife. Each piece should weigh around 100 grams.
  • Shape each piece of dough into a ball then place onto a lined baking tray, in 4 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% & should just be touching.
  • Whilst your buns are rising, preheat an oven to 180°c/160°c fan (356°f/320°f).

Baking

  • To make the paste for the crosses, place 3 tbsp of plain flour into a small mixing bowl then mix in enough cold water to make a thick but pipe able paste. Transfer to a piping bag.
    Start with 2 tbsp of cold water then add in more as needed.
  • 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.

Glazing

  • Make the glaze just before the buns have finished baking. To do this, place the golden syrup & butter into a small saucepan then cook over a low heat until melted.
  • As soon as the hot cross buns come out of the oven, brush the glaze over the top of each one then leave to cool completely.

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. Tea – I use Yorkshire tea when soaking the fruit but feel free to use a different type if you’d pefer – Earl Grey would work well. For 250ml of hot water, I use 1 tea bag.
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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2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    My new favorite hot cross bun recipe – so soft and flavorful. Only one bun lasted into the next day but it was still just as soft. Will definitely be making these again

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