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Healthy Hot Cross Buns

The ultimate Easter bake made healthy – these Healthy Hot Cross Buns are enriched with buttermilk and naturally sweetened with fruit and agave syrup – delicious !

Creme eggs and mini eggs picked up in the UK meant OH was sorted but Easter for me wouldn’t be complete without a Hot Cross Bun and they’re not available locally to us in France. I’ve baked Hot Cross Buns every Easter with the recipe from English Teatime Treats but this year it was time for a change. After experimenting with a healthier version of carrot cake muffins and with Easter just around the corner, my thoughts turned to combining the two. How good would it be if we could tuck into a guilt free Easter treat ? To acknowledge the irony of this question, I mean the sense of ‘calorific guilt’ and not the spiritual redemption at the heart of the Easter message.

These Healthy Hot Cross Buns are possibly the best Hot Cross Buns ever, enriched with buttermilk and naturally sweetened with fruit and agave syrup – easily substituted with maple syrup or honey. The grated eating apple not only adds sweetness but an extra moistness too, whilst the reduced orange juice plumps up the sultanas into bursts of sweet juiciness. I used one third whole wheat flour in the recipe – you could make the proportion higher if you like but I reckon one third is just right to keep these Healthy Hot Cross Buns nice and light. Even though mixed peel is a traditional ingredient, I’ve listed it as an option for the recipe because it contains extra sugar. For me the orange zest was enough to give a citrus hit and I didn’t miss the mixed peel.

These Healthy Hot Cross Buns have no added fat so you can indulge yourself and spread them with a touch of butter, especially as butter is no longer such the big bad wolf of spreads !
This recipe has become a firm favourite here at the Kitchen Shed and I won’t be making Hot Cross Buns any other way from now on. I reckon the Kitchen Shed oven is going to be extra busy over the next few weeks baking even more for friends both French and English.











Kitchen Shed Top Tip

To get a professional looking finish, apply your hot cross pastry using a piping bag. Pipe all your vertical lines first and then pipe the horizontal lines to form crosses.


5.0 from 8 reviews
Healthy Hot Cross Buns
Prep time
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The ultimate Easter bake made healthy. These Healthy Hot Cross Buns are enriched with buttermilk and naturally sweetened with fruit and agave syrup - delicious !
Recipe type: Bread
Cuisine: Home Baking
Serves: 16

  • Zest and juice of an orange
  • 75 g (½ cup) sultanas
  • 25 g (2 tablespoons) mixed peel (optional)
  • 325 ml (1 ⅓ cup) buttermilk (or half yoghurt and half milk)
  • 1 dessert apple - grated
  • 6 tablespoons agave syrup (can substitute with honey or maple syrup)
  • 350 g (2 ½ cups) strong white plain flour
  • 150 g (1 cup) whole wheat flour (I used Elephant Atta Chakki Gold)
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast (I used Doves Farm)
  • ¼ teaspoon bicarbonate soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon

Hot Cross Pastry:
  • 6 tablespoons plain flour
  • 5 to 6 tablespoons water

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons agave or maple syrup
  1. Place the orange juice in a small saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for about 3 or 4 minutes to reduce by about half. Add the sultanas (and mixed peel if using) and set to one side.
  2. Warm the buttermilk for one minute on high power in the microwave. Stir in the grated apple and agave syrup.
  3. Add the flours, yeast, bicarb and cinnamon into a large bowl along with the buttermilk mixture and mix together to form a rough dough.
  4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. (Alternatively you can use a stand mixer to knead your dough.)
  5. Spread the dough out into a rectangle and sprinkle over the fruit mixture. Bring the dough back together and knead until the fruit is evenly distributed.
  6. Place the dough in a large greased mixing bowl, cover and leave in a warm place to rise for 1 ½ hours until doubled in size.
  7. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and divide into 16 pieces, approx 75 to 80 g each. Shape into balls and place on a baking tray fairly close together and flatten each ball a little. Cover with greased cling film and prove for one hour in a warm place.
  8. While your Hot Cross Buns are proving, make your hot cross 'pastry.' In real terms, it isn't a pastry at all and is much easier than making and rolling out pastry strips.
  9. Sift the flour into a jug, add the water and mix well until you have a smooth paste.
  10. Preheat your oven to 400°F / 200°C / Gas Mark 6
  11. When your hot cross buns are ready for the oven, pipe or use a spoon to form the crosses on your buns.
  12. Place in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown.
  13. Brush with agave or maple syrup for a shiny glaze and leave to cool on a wire rack.
Healthy Hot Cross Buns freeze well.


Pin Healthy Hot Cross Buns for later:

The ultimate Easter bake made healthy. These Healthy Hot Cross Buns are enriched with buttermilk and naturally sweetened with fruit and agave syrup - delicious !

I’m entering Healthy Hot Cross Buns to a few food challenges this month:

And linking to:

Fiesta Fridays , Sunday Fitness Food Link Up co hosted by Marathons & Motivation and Ilkas Blog


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