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Gelf's winning Hot Cross Buns

This is the recipe that our Executive Head Chef used for his Hot Cross Buns in the River Cottage 2020 team challenge.


Method for the dough:

Combine the flour, sugar, yeast and salt together.

Melt the butter on the stove but don’t get it too hot. Add this to the dough, but do not mix at this point. Place the milk and zest in the now empty saucepan and heat until blood temperature. Add this to the flour along with the beaten egg and mix until a sticky dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead for 10 minutes (time yourself because time slows down when kneading dough!) Once kneaded place in a bowl and allow to prove for 1 and a half hours.

Whilst the dough is proving, prepare the dried fruit. Add the spices, lemon and orange zest and juice, mix and cover and leave for at least 1 hour.


Once the dough has proved add the soaked fruit and gently combine in the bowl, eventually turning onto the work surface to work until the rest of the fruit is combined. Once combined return to the bowl and allow to prove for a further 1 hour.


Once the second prove is over, split the dough into 130g balls, with any leftover dough being spread between the balls.

Round the balls and place evenly on a couple of lined baking trays, cover and allow to prove for a further 45 minutes.

Crossing mixture

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk together until smooth. Once smooth, place in a piping bag with a small end snipped off.

Crossing the buns

Once the buns have proved, uncover and pipe a cross on top of each one. Place the trays in an oven preheated to 210 degrees Celsius and cook until well browned (approx. 15 mins). The tray may need a turn after 10 minutes depending on your oven.

Glazing the buns

Place the water and sugar into a pan, bring to boil and cook until a loose syrup is formed.

Once the buns are cooked remove from the oven, place on a wire rack and brush with the glaze.

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Ingredients for the dough

540g strong bread flour

1 whole egg beaten

50g good butter

70g golden caster sugar

A pinch of salt

8g fast action dried yeast

330g slightly warmed milk

The zest of one orange

Ingredients for the fruit mix

200g mixed dried sultanas

1 tsp ground ginger

1tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of mixed spice

The zest and juice of 1 orange and 1 lemon.

Crossing mixture

100g flour

100g water

A pinch of salt

A pinch of baking powder.


100g water

100g golden caster sugar