Thursday, 28 March 2013

No Added Sugar Hot Cross Buns

I mentioned last year that it has been a long standing tradition in my family to gather together on Good Friday and participate in an ever so slightly competitive hot cross bun bakingcompetition! Unfortunately I’m not heading home for Easter this year, but that hasn’t stopped me from making my own hot cross buns.

Last year my tropical vegan hotcross buns were a real success and I wasn’t really sure where to go from there. I had been contemplating creating a gluten free version of this seasonal product but in the end opted for something a little simpler and went for a hot cross but with no added sugar (just a little sweetness added from apple juice and a tiny dollop of honey). But with the right balance of spicing and the natural sweetness from the dried fruit these had the perfect amount of sweetness and a really lovely light texture. My housemate and colleagues were suitably impressed with my efforts and I think if I was at home I would certainly be a front runner in this year’s competition!!! So if any of my extended family are reading this you are lucky I’m not at home this year because I would have been tough to beat (and if you want to take this blog post as a long distance entry even better!!).

So Happy Easter everyone, I’m now off to start my celebrations in my family’s traditional manner….by stuffing myself with A LOT of hot cross buns!!!


350g plain flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon mixed spice
1 7g sachet dried instant yeast
1 teaspoon honey
150ml apple juice
150g dried fruit (I used a mix that contained raisins, golden raisins and cranberries but any mixture of raisins, sultanas, cherries, cranberries, mixed peel would work well)
70g margarine
25ml milk


50g plain flour
45 ml water


1 tablespoon sugar free apricot jam (I used St. Dalfour’s jam which just contains fruit and uses grape juice concentrate as a natural sweetner)
 1 tablespoon water

Pre-heat the oven to 180 deg C

Start by putting all of the dried fruit into a bowl and add the apple juice and honey. Cover with cling film and set aside for at least 2 hours to allow the fruit to soak up some of the apple juice (although if you have time you can leave the fruit soaking overnight).

Place the flour, yeast and spices into a large bowl.

Put the milk and margarine into a small saucepan and place over a gentle heat until the margarine has melted, remove from the heat. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly until luke warm.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the milk mixture along with the dried fruit and any remaining apple juice that hasn’t been soaked up by the fruit.

Bring the wet and dry ingredients together with your hands until a large ball of dough is formed.

Tip the dough mixture out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until springy to the touch, return to the bowl, cover with a tea towel and allow to rise for about 1 hour until doubled in size.

Once the dough has risen divide into 8 equal portions and shape each into a round ball. Evenly space the balls on a large baking tray and score the tops with a knife to make a cross. Then allow to rise again for another 30 minutes.

In the meantime mix the 50g of flour and 45ml of water together in a small bowl until you have a smooth paste. Transfer the paste to a piping bag (you can make one of these out of a square of greaseproof paper, or alternatively just use a plastic sandwich bag with the corner snipped off).

Once risen pipe a cross onto each bun along the crosses previously scored into them. Then bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Place the jam and water in a small bowl and heat in the microwave for a couple of seconds until nicely runny. As soon as the hot cross buns are removed from the oven use a pastry brush to glaze the hot cross buns with the syrup.

Allow to cool just slightly then tuck in….add a knob of butter to a warm slice of hot cross bun for an extra indulgent addition to these seasonal treats.


  1. I posted about Hot Cross Buns a while back but mine do include sugar, and lots of it. Really interesting recipe.

    1. It is surprising how the natural sweetness of the fruit provides enough of a sugary kick that you don't miss the extra sugar that would otherwise be there (although your sugar laden buns look pretty good too!)