Honey & Buttermilk Hot Cross Buns
Happy spring everyone!
I love spring baking - my Instagram feed is turning floral and yellow, and full of hot cross buns of course. This spring classic has to feature on my blog this year - but with a little twist. I have created for you the softest, fluffiest, lightest, most delicious hot cross buns ever! These are less spiced than your usual, and I use honey and buttermilk for an extra soft bun with a great tang and flavour.
About this recipe
How are these different from traditional hot cross buns?
My lack the traditional spices - I have added no spices at all. You can of course add cinnamon, or other spices, if you want (I recommend 1 teaspoon if you do). But I wanted to create a very light and refreshing version of this classic, so I did not add any warming spices.
I have used dried blueberries instead of raisins/sultanas. I have recently fallen in love with dried blueberries and now I put them in everything. I love the combo of lemon and blueberry, so I highly recommend giving them a try together with the lemon zest (see below).
No mixed peel
I have used fresh lemon zest instead of mixed peel. The honest truth? I don't love mixed peel - I much prefer fresh zest. Feel free to adjust if you want.
Instead of milk, I use buttermilk in this recipe. I love how light and refreshing it is. Buttermilk is like a mix between skimmed milk and yoghurt! In the Netherlands, where I am from, it is called "karnemelk". It is a bit sour and that is why I never liked it as a child, but now I love it. The acidity brings extra freshness and it just works a treat.
I use honey to sweeten this recipe, because the combination of honey and buttermilk is delicious. And also because honey makes me get those spring vibes, and it works beautifully as a glaze on top of these buns. If you can source some local honey, that is awesome. Try to get the runny kind - that is what I have used.
These hot cross buns are:
Fluffy and light
Golden and glowing
An unmissable spring bake
Delicious with some slightly salted butter and extra honey
Honey & Buttermilk Hot Cross Buns
This recipe makes 8 large hot cross buns.
400 grams strong white bread flour
5 grams fine sea salt (1 tsp)
5 grams granulated sugar (1 tsp)
7 grams dried instant yeast (1 sachet)
240 grams buttermilk
1 large egg
40 grams melted butter
40 grams runny honey (+ extra for glazing)
zest of 1 lemon
75 grams dried blueberries
For the cross:
50 grams plain flour
3 tbsp water
Melt the butter in a glass jug in the microwave. Then add the buttermilk and honey. Microwave in 15 second bursts until the mixture is lukewarm (30° Celsius). You can also combine everything in a small sauce pan and heat it over a low heat until melted together.
Combine the flour, salt, sugar, yeast and lemon zest in a large mixing bowl. Use one that fits your standing mixer if you have a standing mixer. Don't put the yeast on top of the salt - put them on different sides, then mix. The salt could impair the yeast's activity if they touch directly too much.
Add the warm liquid (anywhere between 25-30° Celsius) to the dry ingredients and mix on low speed (or with your hands/wooden spoon) for 30 seconds. Add the egg and mix on low speed 5 for minutes until everything is very well mixed.
Turn up the mixer to medium speed. You want the dough to "slap around" in the bowl. Let the mixer run for 8-10 minutes until the dough is smooth and passes the window pane test: if you stretch out a small piece, you should be able to see through it.
Alternatively, knead the dough by hand for a good 10 minutes. It will be very sticky to begin with but it will become smooth if you persevere. Dusting your hands and work surface with some extra flour will help, but try to add as little as possible!
Let the dough rise for anywhere between 45 minutes and 90 minutes, until doubled in size. I kept my dough in a warm spot (27° Celsius) so it took only 45 minutes. It might take up to 90 minutes at a colder room temperature.
Lightly flour your work surface. Transfer the dough onto it and knock all the air out of it.
Add the dried blueberries to the dough. It can be a bit tricky to disperse them through the dough evenly. I put 1/4th on, then folded the dough in the middle, added more, folded it again, etc.
Shape the dough into a log. Then cut the log into 8 equal sized pieces.
Shape the pieces into round balls, by gently rolling it around on the work surface with one hand.
Transfer the dough balls to a deep baking tray (mine was 24 cm x 36 cm). Make sure to space them out enough to allow for growth - see the picture.
Cover the tray with a damp tea towel and allow to rise again for 45 minutes - 90 minutes. This time, I let the buns rise at room temperature on the counter (around 21° Celsius) and it took 60 minutes. You can check if the dough is proofed by probing it with a finger. If the dimple you create springs back up immediately, it needs longer. If it springs back up slowly and halfway, it is perfect. If the dimple stays, the dough has proofed a bit too long so just get them in the oven ASAP.
Prepare the mixture for the cross. Combine 3tbsp of water with 50 grams of flour. The consistency should be not too thick and not too thin. It should drip off of a spoon in a consistent stream - you should be able to draw a figure 8 in the batter. Add more water/flour as needed.
Transfer the mixture to a piping bag with a small round nozzle (or just cut a small hole at the bottom of the piping bag after you've filled it).
Pipe the crosses onto the buns. I go horizontally in one consistent stream (4 at a time), then vertically (2 at a time).
Transfer the tray to the oven and bake for 15 minutes. You might need to rotate your tray after 8-10 minutes if the buns are browning more on one side than the other.
When golden brown and beautiful, take the buns from the oven. Brush with warm honey to give a beautiful sheen.
Let the buns cool down for 30 minutes before eating. Store in an airtight container on the counter for up to 3 days. Did you know you can also toast these?
Above: The dough before the second proof.
As always, baking can be not-so-straightforward! But do not despair... here is your troubleshooting guide.
The dough is too sticky
It should be very sticky to begin with. If you are using a standing mixer, give it at least 8 minutes. If it is not becoming less sticky, then add one tablespoon more flour. If you are kneading by hand, it will be difficult to start with, but it should get progressively easier. You can dust your surface with flour, but you do not want to add too much extra flour because then your doughnuts will be too bready and less moist and soft. You can also try to use the sourdough "slap and fold" method of kneading in the beginning to get rid of some of the initial stickiness! Only if none of this works you should add a bit more flour, one tablespoon at a time.
My dough did not rise
Okay. There could be a few things wrong here. First: is your instant yeast expired? Have a look on the packaging. Instant yeast does have an expiry date and if it is past this date, chances are that is why your dough did not rise. If that is not the case, you might have killed the yeast when you added the warm liquid. If it was too hot, the yeast could have died. But really anything below 40° Celsius should be fine. Otherwise: the spot you left your dough in could be too cold. If you left it below/around room temperature, it might need 2 hours to double in size rather than just 1 hour, so be patient!
My buns deflated in the oven
They were probably overproofed if this happens. Try to proof them less long next time, or in a colder spot. They should still taste pretty good though - just layer with butter and honey and I am sure you will still love them.
The cross on my buns is rock hard and not nice to eat.
This happens when the mixture was too thick, so it contained too much flour. Try to make it looser next time by using more water.
The cross on my buns has run/leaked all over the place.
This happens when the mixture was too thin, so it contained too much water. Try to make it thicker next time by using less water.
I would love to hear when you try these! Get in touch in Instagram @bakingstori and share your spring bakes with me. Here are some pictures for you to enjoy of the beautiful blossoming trees in my street.