Wholemeal Hot Cross Buns

Dairy free – egg free – salt free – soy free

I know it’s really hard to keep track of the days right now, so I’ve been using food as a guide. Just to let you know, Easter is here again. Good news! That means it’s hot cross bun time! I have the fondest memories of warm toasty hot cross buns with melted butter. I’d eat them all year round if I could… Oh wait, that’s an idea! Now with this recipe, we can do just that.  

I have created a vegan wholemeal hot cross bun full of spice and zest. They are just as fluffy and delicious as you remember them, but with a little bit of extra added goodness. It’s always good to bring a bit of extra fibre to justify having a treat. I have also chosen to eliminate all salt from the recipe. 

I went into a supermarket for the first time during the pandemic last week, and doing the food shop is madness right now. Getting hold of flour in my local supermarkets seems to be impossible. Luckily I have some amazing little co-operative shops I can always rely on. If you don’t have bread flour in, you can use plain flour or regular wholemeal flour. The texture may be a little denser but they will still taste amazing. I’m still playing around with gluten-free flours, so when I find the right combination, I’ll let you know.

I hope this recipe can bring some glorious spring baking into your house and help lighten the mood during these uncertain times. We will all remember this time. We have a chance to reconnect with ourselves. Let’s fill our days with fun and kindness and what better way to start than to get baking.  

Makes 12 buns

Prep time: 60 minutes

Rise time:  150 minutes/ 2.5 hours

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 3 hours 55 minutes


For the Buns

  • 300g wholemeal bread flour
  • 200g plain flour
  • 75g golden caster sugar
  • 7g fast action dried yeast
  • 2.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1.5 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp orange
  • 0.5 tsp lemon zest
  • 150g raisins and sultanas
  • 300ml plant based milk
  • 75g vegan block butter (I Used Naturli’ Organic Vegan block)
  • 50ml maple to glaze

For the crosses

  • 70g plain flour
  • 50-60mls water

And don’t forget to add a pinch of kindness

Firstly, weigh out all of your dry ingredients and zest the fruit. Now add the flour to the bowl followed by the golden caster sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and citrus zest to the bowl.

It’s really important to keep your yeast separate from the sugar until you are ready to mix and kneed. The yeast can become compromised if exposed to salt or sugar too early and the fermentation process can be reduced. This will affect the rise and texture of the buns. Simply place the yeast to one side of the bowl and the other ingredients to the opposite side as I have done here.

NB: If you are using fresh yeast you will need roughly 3 times the amount of yeast. Treat it the same as dry yeast and keep it separate until ready to mix.

Melt the butter in a pan and add the plant milk. Do not allow it to boil, but you want the mixture to be warm to help activate the yeast. Think of it as a warm bath for the yeast, do not burn it.

Use a wooden spoon to mix the dry ingredients together and immediately add the milk and butter mixture and continue mixing.

Once all the ingredients are fully incorporated, get your hands in there and get to work. Once the sides of the bowl start to look clean, tip it onto a lightly floured surface and start kneading. Be mindful not to use too much flour. This is a very sticky mixture, but the dough will become less sticky as you knead it and start to feel light and springy. You will know it is ready when you lightly press the dough and it slowly springs back up. You can use the bread hook on the mixing aid, if you have one, and leave it going for about 10 minutes. If you are kneading by hand, like me, you will need to work for a little longer, maybe 20 minutes or so but it is worth it. I love getting messy in the kitchen and kneading dough is a great way to de-stress and do some mindful baking. When kneading by hand, you really get to know the dough and you will feel it change as the minutes pass by.

Once the dough is the right consistency, place it in a clean, lightly oiled bowl, cover with a damp tea towel then leave to rise. It is a lengthy process and you have now done most of the hard work. It’s best to find a warm cosy place for the dough to sit and rise. However, you have the option to put the dough in the fridge and allow it to rise slowly over night. When you take it out the next day, remember to let it return to room temperature before you carry on with the next part of the recipe.

Once the dough has doubled in size, take it out of the bowl and gently knock the air out of it. Now roll it out in to a rectangle, 1/2 inch thick. Evenly sprinkle the raisins and sultanas across the dough and do one final knead to bring everything back together. This only has to take a few minutes and it will ensure that all of the fruit is evenly distributed through the dough.  You do not want to cut into a fresh hot cross bun to find it fruitless! It doesn’t bare thinking about.

Cut the dough in to 12 evenly sized portions. The most accurate way to do this is to weigh the whole mix and divide the weight by 12, then weight out each individual portion. This may seem pedantic but it is worth the effort. You are guaranteed an even bake and a consistent and professional looking batch of buns at the end.

Roll each portion into a ball using the palm of one hand and the rolling cupped action of the other. As you move your cupped hand in circular motions, the edge of your fingers will mold the dough and create a perfect little ball. It’s really important here to try and not have the dried fruit poking out. There may be a few but lightly work the dough again to reduce this. Any raisins or sultanas sticking out may catch and burn in the oven due to their high sugar content.

Place the buns onto a lined baking tray about an inch apart and then allow to rise again until doubled in size. Do this under the damp tea towel again to prevent the dough from drying out. It will take up to an hour depending on the temperature of your kitchen.

Whilst the final rise in in action, pre-heat the oven to 180°C and mix the flour and water together for the crosses.  You don’t want the mixture to be too thick as it will bake and form a very firm cross. You want the consistency of pipeable icing.  If you need to add any extra water, do so 1 tablespoon at a time.

Once the buns have doubled in size, pipe on the crosses and then bake in the oven for 25 minutes.

Once out of the oven, brush the golden hot cross buns with the maple glaze and allow to cool. If you can’t wait, dig in and enjoy.

If you have a go at making the hot cross buns please remember to take a picture and tag:

@pinchof kindness

or share using #pinchofkindness.

Happy baking!

3 thoughts on “Wholemeal Hot Cross Buns

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