Vegan Hot Cross Buns
These vegan hot cross buns are soft, fluffy and packed with flavour. Filled with warming spices, juicy raisins and topped with a sweet apricot glaze, they are perfect for an Easter brunch. Best served warm with some dairy-free butter.
If there is one dessert that just screams Easter, it has to be hot cross buns! I have loved them since I was younger and have sorely missed them since I went vegan.
Luckily, hot cross buns were relatively easy to veganise, which I am SO glad about. I could not find vegan-friendly hot cross buns anywhere in the supermarkets last year so I decided that I’d make my own the next time Easter came around. So here we are!
I used the same dough as I use to make my cinnamon rolls which meant they came out perfect on the first try. I did have to make a few simple tweaks such as adding all spice and dried fruit (and of course the cross on top), but other than that, the method was pretty much exactly the same!
What is a hot cross bun?
If you don’t know, let me explain… A hot cross bun is a semi-sweet bread-like treat that is something in-between a bread roll and a cinnamon roll.
They’re usually filled with warming spices like cinnamon and dried fruits such as raisins or sultanas. Typically hot cross buns will also contain either citrus zest or candied peel, and the cross that’s piped on top is said to represent the cross that Jesus died on at Easter.
These buns are the perfect mixture of savoury and sweet and they’re best served sliced and toasted with some (vegan) butter.
Ingredients you’ll need for this recipe:
- Flour. You can use either self-raising flour or strong white bread flour for this recipe, or a mix of both like I have recommended.
- Instant yeast. You’ll need around 2 teaspoons for this recipe to help the buns rise and create that classic fluffy texture. I haven’t tried this recipe with fresh yeast so I cannot say whether or not it will work. I used Allinson easy bake yeast.
- Spices. Use any sweet spices you like. I used a mix of cinnamon and all spice.
- Vegan margarine. Adds fat to help keep the buns soft.
- Caster sugar. These buns are not supposed to be super sweet so we only need a small amount of sugar in the dough.
- Soy milk. I have not tested this recipe with any other plant milks so I don’t recommend substituting it. Usually, the protein from the soy milk is essential for the perfect texture. I use unsweetened organic soy milk.
- Raisins. These can be substituted for sultanas or any other dried fruit that you like.
- Orange zest. You can substitute this for lemon zest or candied mixed peel (or you can add both if you’re feeling fancy).
- Apricot jam. This is for the glaze only and you don’t need much of it. It can be substituted for an equal amount of orange marmalade, agave nectar or maple syrup.
Which type of flour is best for hot cross buns?
I have made these buns with self-raising flour, strong white (bread) flour, and with a mix of both. I have to say that I prefer the mix of both. It gives the buns a nice bread-like texture but keeps them soft and squishable.
Using self-raising flour is kind of cheating but I find it helps the buns to rise nicely without having to wait for them to prove for a second time. This saves a lot of time and you won’t notice a difference in the taste or texture!
How to make vegan hot cross buns
First, mix your dry ingredients together. To a large bowl, add 200g self-raising flour, 180g strong white bread flour, 2 teaspoons of instant yeast, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and 1 heaped teaspoon of all spice.
Mix well and set aside for now.
To a small saucepan, add 250ml soy milk, 5 tablespoons caster sugar and 60g of vegan margarine. Place the saucepan over a medium-low heat and stir every-so-often until the margarine has fully melted.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool. You don’t want it to be hot, as this will kill the yeast, but don’t let it cool fully either. It should be nice and warm, somewhere in the middle.
Pour the warm wet mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix well. You will end up with a super sticky dough.
Place the dough onto a floured surface and sprinkle 100g of raisins and the zest of 1 large orange on top.
Knead for around 5 minutes until the dough is no longer sticky and springs back into place when touched. This part can get really messy so feel free to use a stand mixer if you have one!
Place the springy dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a clean dishcloth. Leave it to prove in a warm place for 1 hour until it has roughly doubled in size.
I usually leave mine in my turned-off oven with the light turned on.
After the hour has passed, preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F (160°C/325°F for fan or convection ovens).
Remove the dough from the bowl and lightly knead on a lightly floured surface to get rid of any large air bubbles.
Divide it into 12 equal-sized pieces and roll each piece into a ball. I used a scale to weigh each piece for accuracy.
Place the dough balls into a 9×13-inch tin lined with baking paper. Leave some baking paper hanging over the edges for easy removal later.
Mix 40g plain flour with around 3-4 tablespoons of water to make a soft, pipeable paste. Use it to carefully pipe cross shapes onto the buns.
Bake for 25-30 minutes.
While the buns are baking, prepare your glaze by mixing 1 tablespoon of melted apricot jam and 2 tablespoons of water.
When the buns are golden brown all over, remove them from the oven and use a pastry brush to brush them with the apricot glaze.
Let them cool in the tin for around 10-15 minutes then use the baking paper edges to transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
The buns are delicious served warm but it’s important to let them cool fully after baking first (then reheat them) as they’ll taste a little doughy inside at first.
Once cool, cut or tear your hot cross buns and enjoy!
Sadly these don’t last long before they start to lose their fluffiness! If you keep them in an airtight container, they’ll last for up to 2 days but I recommend you eat them on the day of baking for the best texture.
Yes, I froze my leftovers recently and they tasted lovely after defrosting. Just let them defrost fully at room temperature before reheating (or enjoying cold).
This could be that your yeast is inactive, the wet ingredients were too hot when you added them to the dry ingredients, or because the room wasn’t warm enough when you left the dough to prove. I like to leave my dough in a switched-off oven with the light on.
I hope you enjoy these hot cross buns! If you make them yourself, please let me know how you get on by leaving a rating and/or comment below. Happy baking! xo
Vegan Hot Cross Buns (Dairy-Free)
Easy, fluffy hot cross buns for Easter
- 200 g Self-raising flour, plus more for kneading
- 180 g Strong white flour (can be subbed for more self-raising flour but the buns will be slightly softer)
- 2 Teaspoons Instant yeast
- 2 Teaspoons Cinnamon
- 1 Heaped teaspoon All spice
- 250 ml Unsweetened soy milk
- 5 Tablespoons Caster sugar
- 60 g Vegan margarine
- 100 g Raisins (or sultanas)
- Zest of 1 Orange
For the crosses:
- 40 g Plain or strong white flour
- 3-4 Tablespoons Water
For the glaze:
- 1 Tablespoon Apricot jam (sub for marmalade or maple syrup)
- 2 Tablespoons Water
In a large bowl, mix together the flours, yeast and spices. Set aside for now.
Add the soy milk, caster sugar and margarine to a small saucepan. Gently mix then place over a low heat until the margarine has fully melted.
Leave the wet mixture to cool slightly. You want it to be warm but not hot (if it's too hot it will kill the yeast).
Once cooled, pour the wet mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients. Use a wooden spoon to mix well until you have a sticky dough.
Transfer the dough to a floured surface and sprinkle the raisins and orange zest over the top.
Knead the dough until it is no longer sticky, adding more flour as needed. You'll know it's ready when it springs back into place when touched.
Place the ball of dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover it with a clean dishcloth. Leave in a warm place to prove for 1 hour. After the hour has passed, the dough should have roughly doubled in size.
Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F (160°C/325°F for fan or convection ovens). Line a 9×13-inch tin with baking paper, leaving a little hanging over the edges for easy removal later.
Gently knead the dough on a floured surface to get rid of any air bubbles then divide it into 12 equal pieces.
Roll each piece into a ball and place into your lined tin. The buns should be touching slightly, which will help them rise upwards.
For the crosses:
Mix the flour and water together until you have a smooth, pipeable paste. Pop it into a piping bag and pipe crosses on top of the buns.
Bake the buns for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown all over.
For the glaze:
While the buns are baking, gently warm the jam up in the microwave until smooth then mix it with the water. Use a pastry brush to glaze the buns with this mixture as soon as they come out of the oven.
Let the glazed buns cool for around 10 minutes then use the baking paper to transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Once cool, tear or cut the buns and enjoy!
- Best enjoyed within 1-2 days.
- Hot cross buns can be served warm but I recommend letting them cool completely then reheating them for the best texture.