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The Hot Cross Bun Baking Challenge

We’re delighted so many of you have taken to baking – this week we’ve had pictures of first attempt sourdoughs looking awesome and ciabattas from Devon, California and the far east; well Colchester – thanks Kate, Stet and Vanessa!

If you want to join in but can’t find any bread flour, you can always make a loaf of soda bread with plain flour, white or wholemeal, or whatever random mix of flour you have in your cupboards!

If you do have some strong white flour, this week’s baking challenge is, as it’s nearly Easter, Hot Cross Buns; happy days! You can cook them in your regular oven or your wood fired oven; we’ve done them in both and they work really well either way.

We’re using the Japanese Tangzhong breadmaking method that David came across whilst no doubt googling something else and he’s used it successfully in the Hot Cross Buns and in wholemeal rolls to make them light and fluffy. You basically make a roux in advance of making the dough, let that cool and incorporate it into the final dough; highly recommended for great buns, so to speak!

We’re also using a flying starter – this gets the yeast off to a good start before putting it into the heavily enriched dough with sugar, butter and eggs.

The Hot Cross Bun Baking Challenge


Do let us know how you get on and send us photos to info@mannafromdevon.com – we love to see what you’ve been baking.

Here’s what we did –


Tangzhong Roux

  • 30g Strong White Flour
  • 150g Water

Flying Starter

  • 10g fast acting dried yeast
  • 70g strong white flour
  • 200g tepid milk

Rest of the Dough

  • 400g strong white flour
  • 10g fine seasalt
  • 75g caster sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • 2tsp mixed spice
  • 75g soft butter
  • 1 beaten egg, large
  • The roux and flying starter from above
  • 100g raisins
  • 100g chopped mixed peel

For the crosses –

  • 50g plain flour
  • 50g milk
  • Egg wash


The dough will take some time to get ready to bake so don’t heat your oven too long before your need it; your regular oven wants to be at 180C and your wood fired oven at 5 MississippiĀ 

The Hot Cross Bun Baking Challenge


  • Make the roux by mixing the white flour and water in a saucepan over a medium heat. Whisk continously until it’s really thick. Allow to cool.
  • Make the flying start by mixing the yeast with the flour and tepid milk. Cover this mixture and leave until it rises and drops which will take about 20-30 minutes.
  • Make the dough by mixing the flour, salt, sugar, orange zest and spice in the bowl of a Kenwood or KitchenAid type mixer. Add the roux, flying starter, butter and egg. Mix all this on a medium speed with a dough hook for 6-7 minutes until it is pullling cleanly away from the sides of the bowl. It will be very sticky so don’t panic!! If you haven’t got a Kenwood type mixer, you can do it by hand but we would use a dough scraper to do the mixing, held by your hand of course.
  • Once this is all mixed up, add the raisins and the mixed peel and mix for another 1-2 minutes in the Kenwood on a low speed.
  • Cover the dough in a bowl and leave to rise for 2-3 hours until risen, soft and puffy.
  • Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and shape into buns. You’ll need to do this on a little flour as the dough will still be sticky but try not to use too much. Put them in a tin to rise – we use a 30x20cm roasting tin with a bit of baking parchment on the base. Cover the buns in the tin and leave in a warm place for 45 minutes or so until nicely risen.
  • Egg wash the buns with a bit of beaten egg. Mix the cross ingredients gently into a thick but pipable paste and put it in a piping bag with a smallish nozzle. Pipe crosses on top of the buns – do all the lengths and then all the widths, not each bun individually.
  • Bake the hot cross buns in the preheated oven – see above – for 15 – 20 minutes until risen and golden brown.
  • Serve hot, warm, at room temperature, fresh or toasted. They won’t last long but you can freeze them if you think you won’t eat them all!