Nothing says Easter like the heavenly spiced fragrance of Hot Cross Buns baking in the oven and you can’t go wrong with this very easy, no knead recipe from A Virtual Vegan.

You’ll need:

For the buns:
50g / 1/3 cup whole hazelnuts (optional) , roughly chopped into large pieces, (optional but they add great texture and flavour)
500g / 3¾ cups plus 4½ teaspoons all purpose white flour
2.5 teaspoons instant or quick yeast , sometimes labelled fast yeast
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cardamon (optional, but adds a nice flavour)
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons sugar
265g / 1½ cups mixed dried fruit , such as golden raisins, sultanas, cranberries, chopped dried apricot.
1 lemon, zested
1 orange, zested
80mls / 1/3 cup coconut oil or vegan butter – it must be at room temperature and not hot when added to the other ingredients
240mls / 1 cup unsweetened milk of choice

For the crosses:
5 tablespoons all purpose white flour
Enough water to make a thick pipe-able paste

For the glaze:
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons boiling water

Here’s how:

  1. If using hazelnuts, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, pour the raw hazelnuts onto a baking tray and roast for about 10 minutes. Shake the pan after 5 minutes and keep an eye on them as they can burn fast! Remove them from the oven and let cool.
  2. In a large bowl, add the flour, yeast, spices, salt and sugar and mix together well. Then add the fruit, cooled nuts and zest.
  3. Add the coconut oil or butter to the milk, stir, then pour into the bowl with the other ingredients.  Then add the water and stir really well with a spoon until everything is combined and there is no dry flour visible. It will be a sticky lumpy looking mess. That’s normal.
  4. Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel that has been run under the tap to wet and then wrung out.
  5. Leave on your kitchen work surface for anything from 4 – 8 hours. When you check on it it should be puffed up around double or a little larger than double and be full of small bubbles. If your kitchen is very cool, then leave it for a minimum of 6 hours but up to 8 hours. If your kitchen is a lot warmer, then it will speed things up a bit. It might be ready after about 2 hours and I wouldn’t leave it any longer than 4 hours.
  6. After the 4- 8 hours have elapsed and the dough has doubled and is puffy. dust a clean, dry, work surface with some flour and turn out the dough onto it making sure you scrape the bowl out well. Try not to tear the dough as it will damage the structure that has developed. It will be sticky but that is normal.
  7. Dust the top of the dough with some flour and make it as round and even as you can, then cut into 10 pieces Try to do it evenly but don’t worry if they are slightly different in size.
  8. Once portioned out, shape each piece into a smooth ball using floured hands. I do this by having the ball of dough on the surface in front of me and using my hands to pull down all around, squeezing it tight underneath.
  9. Place the buns gently on a lightly floured, or parchment lined baking sheet. Leave some space around each one so they have room to grow. Cover with the damp dish towel from earlier and leave for a further 30 minutes then preheat the oven to 400 degrees Farenheit.
  10. After 30 minutes has passed, make the flour and water paste for the crosses. Just add enough water to the 5 tablespoons of flour to make a thick pipe-able paste. Remove the towel from the buns, fill a piping bag or piping syringe with the paste and pipe a cross shape on each bun.
  11. Place the buns in the preheated oven and bake for around 20 minutes. They should be starting to turn a golden brown and if you tap one on it’s bottom it should sound hollow.
  12. Remove from the oven and immediately mix up the glaze (2 tablespoons of sugar with 2 tablespoons of boiling water). Stir until the sugar dissolves then brush the top of each bun generously.
  13. Transfer to a cooling rack but be sure to eat one while it’s still warm!

Recipe notes:
It is possible to make these hot cross buns without the oil if you wish but bear in mind that the oil gives a softer, fluffier crumb. The oil acts a bit like a preservative too and if you omit it the hot cross buns will go stale much more quickly. If you know you will be eating them quickly then this won’t be a problem. If you won’t eat them so quickly and you omit the oil, I would advise freezing them and just removing from the freezer as you need them. If you do omit the oil, add an extra 60mls of water to replace some of the lost liquid.

With thanks to A Virtual Vegan for this delicious recipe! We can’t wait to try it this Easter!