The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hot Cross Buns tweak

Lemonie's picture

Hot Cross Buns tweak

I have made some hot cross buns for the first time and am unsure which part of this recipe is making the buns a bit dense.

Adjusted from BBC Good Food recipe


300ml whole milk

50g butter 

500g bread flour

1 tsp salt

75g caster sugar

1Tbsp oil

7g yeast

1 egg, beaten

**20g malt extract - syrup form (addition)

**150g sultanas - pre-soaked (was 75g but that was no where near enough plus I pre-soaked them)

50g mixed peel

zest of 1 orange

**2 tsp mixed spice (doubled)

**2 tsp allspice (addition)

      **adjusted by me.


> Boiled the milk then cool a little, put some in a bowl with the yeast and malt extract and melt the butter in the rest.  Cool.

> Combine bread flour, salt, caster sugar.  Add the yeast mix, milk and butter mix and oil.

> Knead for 5 mins > rise for 1 hour.

> Knock back.  Add sultanas, mixed peel, zest of an orange, mixed spice and allspice.  

> Knead until combined. > rise for an hour.

> Split into 12 balls 105g each.  Put on baking sheet. > rise 1 hour.

> Bake at 210 for 16 mins ish.


Next time I was thinking to lower the temperature and cook for longer as these were almost too brown on the top after 12 minutes and I lowered it from 220c after reading the comments on the recipe.  I had to cover them loosely with foil to continue cooking.  Any advice where to start?


yozzause's picture

Hi Lemonie  working backwards through your post oven temperature is to high for a dough with lots of sugar and fats id say 200 would be tops and even then you would need to watch as they colour very quickly. The other thing that stands out to me is the yeast quantity, again for a rich dough with sugars and fats your 7g equals just under 1.5% given that your flour quantity is 500g so 1% will equal 5g so you can quickly look at your formula in % values. i tend to use dried yeast in a rich fruit dough at a rate of 3 or 4 % which in your dough would have meant 15 to 20g . At that rate the dough would bulk ferment  in about 2 hours + or -. so i see a bit of conflict there as you are using less yeast as well as a shorter BF time,

I also tend to get my fruit incorporated at the end of the mix so that it also luxuriates in the BF gases and magic of fermentation, this being especially true if the dried fruit has come straight from the package and will be drawing on moisture in the dough. In your case pre soaked, Your fruit total comes to 40% which is not bad i usually go to 50%, more than that and you have trouble keeping it in the dough rather than on the floor. 

The liquid content and i include the egg is 70%, did you find that easy to handle? i usually start off at 50% then add the egg which is another 10% and probably a dash or 2 more if i'm allowing for the dried fruit uptake. so for me the dough feels quite slack which also helps to hang onto the fruit when its first introduced, but by the time BF has finished and the dough has doubled it has given up some of that moisture to plump up the fruit.             

I also use Malt extract  in most of my doughs these days and at the rate of 2%, your dough is 4%..And at the very beginning you state that you boiled the milk and let it cool a little. probably need to cool a lot, unless you were baking in Texas this last week! I would probably consider just water or half milk and half water as the  dough is already carrying a lot of stuff that can inhibit or slow its activity. 

In summing up and in answer to the question you pose    " which part of this recipe is making the buns a bit dense." i would say the main culprit  yeast  quantity and BF  times which are directly related. There are a lot of Hot Cross Bun posts if you hit the search box too.

KInd regards Derek

Yippee's picture

Overall, this is helpful advice, even for people who don’t make hot cross buns.  Thank you Derek.


yozzause's picture

Thanks Yippee, i'm Very pleased if its of use to anyone!

Lemonie's picture

Sorry for the delay in replying, I've been waiting to get on my pc.  Thank your for your very detailed reply.  This is why this forum is so great because you can learn directly from people with experience.  

For my next batch I am going to increase the yeast, lower the heat and extend the bake time.  I'm also thinking of removing the oil but I haven't decided yet.  Thank you again.

yozzause's picture

The oil/butter/fat ratio should be half what the sugar ratio is and can be anywhere from 2 & 4% right through to 8 &16% depending on your taste  the richer they are the more care required watching the temperature. Iwas practicing a batch yesterday for a baking assignment i have on Wednesday the 3rd  with the buns in the oven and i had a call from a friend who had been un well and in that inattention the buns were in for 2 or 3 minutes longer than i would have liked and they took on some colour. good thing is they tasted just fine.


Probably another tip is dont make lots of changes all at once otherwise you are not really going to know which change it was that made the difference. So in your case i would do the yeast increase first and look for doubling in size during the bulk ferment as the guide of when to take the dough . make notes and start to get  a knowledge base of what x % of yeast does time wise in your dough.