Hot Cross Buns: fluffy, wholemeal, spiced & vegan recipe

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Every year I fiddle and tweak my recipe for Hot Cross Buns - and this year, I think I’ve hit upon a magical combination of ingredients which not only make these the fluffiest, tastiest wholemeal spiced funs imaginable, but also utilise standard pantry ingredients.

No need for vegan butter or egg replacers here - these buns are moist from extra virgin olive oil, which gives them a fluffy and even texture. I only ever use stoneground, wholemeal organic flours in all my baking and cooking, but I discovered that means a higher proportion of dried yeast is needed compared with baking with processed white flour. Basically, if you double the yeast called for in refined white flour recipes, it’s generally about right. The yeast has to work harder to “eat” the wholemeal flours, but the flip side of that is a less doughy and much more satisfying texture than refined white flour baked goods.

My son pronounced these “the tastiest, fluffiest buns ever”, but then he’s also a little bias. Having been brought up on home made cooking which tends to be of the wholefoods, minimally processed variety, he has developed a keen appreciation for the flavour of simple, good quality ingredients.

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This recipe calls for two different types of flours - a “bakers” or strong flour (which just means a naturally higher protein count in the grain, so the gluten develops well & the buns rise beautifully) and a softer spelt flour (which gives the buns their pull-apart texture as it has a lower gluten count in the grain). The mix of both hard and soft flour is often used in sweet yeast baking, whereas savoury bread is better with all hard flour and cakes are better with all soft flour.

Of course, if you haven’t these flours in your pantry, just use plain or regular flour. (Which is soft flour.)

Find a warm spot in your kitchen for the buns to double in size - should take about an hour.

Find a warm spot in your kitchen for the buns to double in size - should take about an hour.


The buns are sweet from the dried fruit, and by using an organic orange you can safely eat the zest which is used to give the dough a delicate flavouring. Don’t waste the juice of the orange - it’s used in the mixture to make the crosses. (You can sub water here if you don’t have an orange to hand.)

Fluffy Wholemeal Spelt vegan Hot Cross Buns


  • 1+1/2 cup soy or plant milk of choice

  • 2 tablespoons raw sugar

  • 2 tablespoons dry yeast

  • 300 gm wholemeal bakers (strong) flour

  • 350 gm wholemeal spelt (soft) flour

  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 2 teaspoons mixed spice

  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves 

  • 1 tablespoon raw sugar

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

  • Grated rind 1 x organic orange (juice the orange to use in the decoration later)

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

  • 2 cups dried fruit (sultanas or a preferred mix)

  1. Place milk in a glass measuring jug and heat to lukewarm in microwave. (Or heat in a small saucepan if you prefer.)  

  2. Add 2 tablespoons sugar and dried yeast and stir.  

  3. Set aside in a warm corner of the kitchen for 5-10 minutes or until it becomes very fluffy and active.

  4. Meanwhile, place flours, spices and the remaining (1 tablespoon) sugar into the large bowl of a stand mixer with a yeast hook fitted.

  5. Add olive oil, vanilla essence, dried fruit and orange rind to yeast mixture and stir to combine.

  6. Pour yeast mixture into flour mixture and knead on the lowest setting for 8-10 minutes or until the mixture looks elastic.

  7. Cover bowl with a clean tea towel and set aside in a warm spot to rise. (Top of the fridge, a sunny corner, or in an oven with oven light turned on are all good options.) This will take about an hour.

  8. Divide dough into 12 evenly spaced clumps, and roll gently in your hands to make a bun shape. 

  9. Place buns quite closely together on a baking sheet lined oven tray. Cover with a clean tea towel, and set aside to prove for about 30 minutes or until they have risen. 

  10. Preheat a fan-forced oven to 200 degrees C.


  • ½ cup plain flour 

  • Juice of 1 x orange

  1. Mix flour and enough of the orange juice to get a soft dripping consistency. 

  2. Place mixture in a piping bag with a plain nozzle, and pipe crosses over the buns.

  3. Bake the buns in the hot oven for approx 20 - 30 minutes or until they spring back when pressed with a quick finger and are gently golden. 

  4. Eat warm or wrap in a clean tea towel to keep fresh for the day.

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Happy baking and happy Easter!