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Cranberry Orange Hot cross buns

Desserts | Easter Recipes | Orange Recipes

These Easter hot cross buns are packed with cranberries and scented with zesty orange. These little buns are ideal treat for breakfast or during the day.

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These hot cross buns are the ultimate Easter treat but can be eaten all year round. Classic recipe includes various dried fruits such as currants, raisins and candied citruses. 

We made a twist on classic recipe and packed our buns with dried cranberries while flavoured the dough with freshly grated orange zest. We also added a dash of cardamom which always works great with orange.

These soft buns are so much better than the store-bought and are ideal choice for breakfast if prepared day ahead. Those who are not fans of dried fruits should try our hot cross buns packed with white chocolate and hazelnuts which are so yummy.

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how to make cranberry orange hot cross buns

Making these cross buns will take some time as you need to rise the dough twice, once it's kneaded and second time when you form the buns. Otherwise, they are not complicated to make.

In this recipe we used basic ingredients such as plain flour, sugar, milk, butter and eggs with addition of buttermilk for extra moistness. We added dried cranberries and some grated orange zest for flavour.

This recipe uses both orange juice and grated orange zest. The orange zest is where so much of zesty orange flavour comes from. 

making the dough

For the dough first combine flour, sugar, salt and spice of your choice in one bowl. Heat the milk with butter, then add buttermilk and stir. Make a well in the middle of flour and break two eggs.

Stir with a fork then gradually pour liquids into this stirring continuously. Once the most flour is incorporated, tip the dough onto the work surface and knead gently 5 - 6 minutes. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky. From time to time add some flour so the dough doesn't stick to the surface, but be sure not to add too much.

Add dried cranberries and knead in the dough until evenly distributed. Now it's time for dough to rise. Leave it on the warm place for 1 hour until it's double in size.

shaping the hot cross buns

Now, it's time to shape the buns. Turn out the dough on the work surface, punch it and add dried fruits to the dough. Using pastry cutter or knife into 14 pieces. Form a bans using your fingers then place them on the buttered baking tray or square pan - depending what you are using for the baking. Leave some space between each bun as they need to rise again for about 30 minutes in a warm place. We usually do this in the slightly warm oven, turned off. 

making crosses on the top of the buns

The symbolic cross pattern is usually made by piping a paste of flour and water onto the buns just before baking, though some recipes opt for a simple icing cross instead to add sweetness to the finished buns. 

baking hot cross buns & brushing with orange glaze

Bake buns in the oven for about 15 - 18 minutes, and immediately brush with orange glaze. Enjoy these soft buns while still warm!

how to make orange glaze

Once baked, we brush buns straight from the oven with simple orange glaze, made with icing sugar and a few tablespoons of orange juice. This zesty glaze accent the orange aroma of the buns. The glaze is sweet and zesty at the same time and also sticky making these little buns so tempting. Go for freshly squeezed orange juice when preparing the glaze, as bottled orange juice won't provide the same bright, fresh flavour.

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cranberry orange hot cross buns

MAKES: 12 hot cross buns
COOKS IN: 50 minutes plus rising time
LEVEL: Moderate


For the dough

  • 400g (3 1/3 cups) plain flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons instant dried yeast (fast-action yeast)
  • 80ml (1/3 cup) whole milk, lukewarm
  • 80ml (1 /3 cup) buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 42g (3 tbsp) butter, softened
  • 50g (1/4 cup) coarse brown sugar
  • 30ml (2 tbsp) fresh orange juice
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 90g (3/4 cup) dried cranberries

For the crosses

  • 30g (1/4 cup) plain flour
  • 3 - 4 tablespoons water

For the glaze

  • 80g (2/3 cup) icing sugar
  • 45ml (3 tbsp) orange juice


  1. Combine flour, sugar, salt and nutmeg in a large bowl.

  2.  Place milk in a small saucepan together with butter cutted into small pieces. Heat on a low heat and swirl the saucepan until most of the butter is melted. Add buttermilk to this and stir to combine.

  3. Make a well in the centre of dry ingredients and add eggs and stir with a fork. Pour gradually milk/butter mixture, stirring continuously until the flour start to incorporates and you have a rough dough.

  4. Tip out onto floured work surface and for 4 - 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. 

  5. Add cranberries into the dough and knead until evenly distributed through the dough.

  6. Return the dough into dusted bowl, cover with kitchen towel and leave to prove in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.

  7. Preheat the oven to 200 C and line baking tray with baking paper. You can also use baking pan - in this case grease it with melted butter on the sides and bottom.

  8. Divide the dough into 12 even pieces (each of 50g) and roll each into ball. Form into buns, tucking the edges of the dough underneath. Place buns in the baking pan or tray, leaving a little space in between each roll. Leave the pan in a warm place for 30 minutes until risen.

  9. Place flour and water in a small bowl, then stir to combine. You need to get thick paste. Transfer it into a piping bag fitted with a plain small tip or use small plastic ziplock bag. Pipe the crosses over the tops of the buns.

  10. Bake the buns in the preheated oven for about 15 to 20 minutes or until they become golden. Remove them from the oven then leave to cool slightly.

  11. For the glaze, stir together icing sugar and orange juice until smooth. Spoon the icing into plastic bag and make a small cut in the corner.

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