The Easiest Cranberry Lemon Hot Cross Buns

Sunday March 5, 2017

Hot Cross Buns show up every Easter in bakeries and have a long tradition in the British Isles since raisin buns and muffins are popular for both home, bakery, and tea room items. They are a beloved breakfast and tea treat. But what to do if you are not a stalwart yeast bread baker and still want to enjoy these? Here is the recipe you have been waiting for. It is a quick batter, mixed just like for muffins with no kneading, but it has some yeast for leavening along with the baking powder. Being American, we use dried cranberries. Shaped with an ice cream scoop and baked free form, instead of a muffin tin, you will not believe how tasty these are. These are more reminiscent of a spiced scone with a slick of fondant on the top, but you will adore them. Serve with butter.


Makes 1 dozen buns

1/4 cup warm water

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

2 cups all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon allspice

2 teaspoons lemon zest, finely minced

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks

1 large egg

3/4 cup cold whipping cream

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup dried cranberries, plumped and dried

1/4 cup currants, plumped and dried

Cream Cheese Lemon Vanilla Glaze

4 tablespoons cream cheese, room temperature

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups confectioner’s sugar

About 2 tablespoons water or milk, as required


Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and slip a second pan of the same size underneath to “double pan,” which prevents over browning on the bottoms.

In a small bowl, mix together the warm water and yeast and let stand a few minutes, until foamy.

In a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, spices, and zest.  Add chunks of butter and mix on low speed until the butter makes a consistency like a grainy meal.

Stir in the egg, cream, vanilla, and yeast mixture, mixing to make a soft dough on low speed and only until a thick batter forms. If it is too sticky, add in a bit more flour. Add the cranberries and currants.

Using a large ice cream scoop, scoop out portions of batter and plunk down on the baking sheet, spacing about 3-inches apart.  Brush with melted butter and let rise let rise at room temperature about 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400º.

Bake until golden brown, 16 to 20 minutes. Cool completely on the pan before glazing.

For the glaze, place the cream cheese, lemon juice, and vanilla in a food processor; pulse to combine. Add the sugar and pulse to make a thick, smooth glaze.  To Make the Tasty Cross: Add more liquid by teaspoonfuls only to achieve desired consistency. Cut the corner off of a heavy-duty gallon freezer bag and place a smooth round tip into the bag and out the hole to make a pastry bag.  Fill with the glaze. Squeeze the glaze out of the bag to make an “X” on each pastry before serving. Let stand at room temperature until serving. Best eaten the day they are made.

Text copyright Beth Hensperger 2016. Recipe copyright King Arthur Flour.

Please enjoy the recipe and make it your own. If you copy the recipe and text for internet use, please include my byline and link to my site.

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