Vegan Hot Cross Buns

   reading time: 6 min

Happy Easter holidays everyone! Time to make hot cross buns :)

I actually made these two weeks ago for Ostara, the pagan spring festival which is celebrated on the spring equinox, so around the 21st of March. But they are of course also perfect for an Easter brunch or just any old Sunday breakfast.

These hot cross buns are
& frickin' delicious!

And honestly, even the dough smells so good!! Almost like Christmas, don't you think?

As you probably know if you aren't new to my blog, I usually bake with spelt flour instead of wheat flour – spelt is an ancient wheat grain with loads of nutrients that is easier to digest than the modern wheat. However, this recipe also works for regular all purpose flour or bread flour!

You can use any type of yeast for this recipe – whether instant / fast action, active dry or fresh yeast (see notes below).

Making your own freshly baked vegan hot cross buns isn't difficult, but it does take a few hours. If you want you can split the work over two days – prepare the yeast dough the night before, and continue with the rest of the recipe in the morning (again, see notes below). This is great if you want to do the "hard work" the night before, and bake your buns fresh the next day. I usually do it that way for our annual Easter brunch.

So, let's not waste any more time and get baking!


adapted from Bit of the Good Stuff and Domestic Gothess

Preparation time: 1 hour + 2 hours rising time
Main ingredients: spelt flour, non-dairy milk, sultanas, yeast
difficulty level: easy
makes: 12 large buns
suitable for: vegan, dairy-free, wheat-free, nut-free, soy-free, low-fat, low-sugar


1/2 cups (500 g) plain spelt flour (type 1050) *
1 cup (250 ml) + 1 tbsp non-dairy milk, lukewarm
1/2 block (20 g) fresh
yeast **
1/4 cup (50 g) raw cane sugar or coconut blossom sugar or regular brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon, ground (or 2 if you're like me ;-))
1/4 tsp nutmeg, ground
1/4 tsp allspice, ground (or sub Christmas stollen blend)
1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup (115 g) sultanas, currants or raisins (or sub cranberries)
3 tbsp vegan butter or margarine

zest of 1 organic orange zest, finely grated

3 tbsp plain spelt flour
2 tbsp water

1 tbsp apricot jam (or honey)
2 tsp water


2 tbsp maple syrup (or golden syrup)

* If you are confused about that flour type, check out this website which explains the difference between German flour types and US-American flour types.  


To make the buns:

Prepare fresh yeast / fast action yeast: Dissolve yeast in a bowl with lukewarm non-dairy milk. Stir in the sugar. Set aside.
(* See notes on yeast variations below!)

In a large mixing bowl, c
ombine flour, salt and spices
. Briefly mix everything.

Stir in the sultanas and orange zest.

Heat vegan butter or margarine in a small saucepan over a low heat until it is melted. Remove from heat, make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, and pour into the bowl of flour and spice mix.

Pour the yeast milk mixture into the well, and stir.

Knead the dough, either using your hands, a stand mixer or an electric whisk with a dough hook. The dough should be soft and sticky. Knead for about 5 minutes. Your dough is ready when it is smooth and elastic and pulls away from the sides of the bowl cleanly.

Knead the dough into a rough ball, and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen towel, and set aside to rise until it has at least doubled in size.
Leave to rise for about 1 hour in a warm place, such as on a sunny windowsill, in the oven (turn on for a few minutes, then turn off and put dough in), on top of a radiator, on top of the fridge, in a slow cooker on the warm setting, in the empty dryer or in the boiler room of your house.

Alternatively, place dough in the fridge and let it rise overnight. The following morning, let the dough come up to room temperature  for half an hour or so before continuing with the recipe.

Once the dough has risen, give it a brief knead. Shape dough into a log, and divide into 12 equal sized pieces. Form each piece into a smooth ball.

Try to make sure that there isn’t much fruit on the outside of the bun as it can burn in the oven.

Place the balls on a baking sheet or pan lined with baking paper, lining them up in rows of 3x4. Leave a gap of about 1.5 cm or 1/2 inch between the balls as they will still rise.

Loosely cover the tray with a damp kitchen towel, and leave the buns to rise in a warm place for another 45 to 60 minutes until they almost doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 200°C / 400 °F.

Meanwhile, prepare the flour paste for the crosses.

To make the crosses:

Mix 3 tbsp flour with 2 tbsp water until a thick runny paste forms. Spoon the paste into a piping bag with a small round nozzle (3 mm) or into a zip-lock bag with a small hole cut in one corner.

Remove the kitchen towel from the tray and pipe crosses onto the buns. Go slow so it hugs the curves. (If you've got them well lined up on the tray you can just pipe in one long line across each row!)

Bake the hot cross buns for about 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven or until the surface is a deep golden brown. Remove buns from oven and transfer to a cooling rack.

To make the glazing:

To achieve a lovely glossy finish, either mix heated apricot jam with water until smooth, or simply use maple syrup or golden syrup (gently warm golden syrup up until it is runny!) to lightly brush onto the surface while the buns are still warm.

Enjoy fresh out of the oven, or allow to cool before serving. I LOVE to eat my hot cross buns warm with some vegan butter – melting into a delicious golden puddle –, and a bit of jam or local honey.

- ** Yeast variations: Use 1 tsp of instant or rapid rise yeast for this recipe. Use 1 tsp of active dry yeast, but instead of dissolving it in the lukewarm milk beforehand, you can simply add it to the dry ingredients. Make sure to add the warm milk afterwards, along with the butter or margarine! Proceed with recipe as written above.
Replace 1/4 cup of the sultanas with candied mixed peel and/or cranberries.
- You could also r
eplace sultanas with chocolate chips to get yummy spiced chocolate rolls (gently fold in the chocolate chips AFTER the dough has been kneaded).
- If you like, infuse the sultanas, raisins or currants in a bowl of strong fruit tea (or even rum for a grown-up version). Allow to steep for at least 20 minutes, then drain, and proceed with the recipe as written above.
- The hot cross buns are best eaten on the day they are baked, but they will keep in an airtight container for 2 to 3 days – in which case they are best served toasted.
- They also freeze well. A great tip is to slice them in half before freezing them so that they can be toasted without being defrosted first!

- You can easily turn this recipe into a hot cross bun loaf or even a braided loaf (not vegan). I can't wait to try these!

Happy holidays, folks!