Brioche Hot Cross Buns

What better way to celebrate Easter than with some brioche hot cross buns? These delicious, buttery buns are a step up from traditional hot cross buns, with a rich flavor and tender, soft texture. They’re perfect for good Friday or Easter brunch.

AD This post has been sponsored by Westgold butter.

baked hot cross buns.

Brioche hot cross buns

These hot cross buns are made from enriched brioche dough with lots of eggs and butter. The brioche hot cross bun dough is spiced with cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg. Fresh orange juice, orange zest, and raisins bring some sweetness and texture.  The brioche buns can undergo overnight cold proof or be made all in one day.

To bring that extra buttery flavor, I have used Westgold unsalted butter. It’s made with milk from grass-fed cows, farmed on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island, and uses a traditional churning process. You could also use their salted butter and reduce the salt in the recipe.

The dough gets quite sticky with adding all the butter, so it’s best made in a stand mixer. You could use a stretch-and-fold method to work the dough if you want to make it by hand. Check this sourdough hot cross buns recipe to see how to work the dough by hand.

side view of fluffy hot cross bun.

Ingredients

Find the amounts of the ingredients for this easter bread in the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post. Here is a rundown of what you will need.

  • Orange – The zest and juice is used.
  • Raisins. Or other dried fruits like cranberries, currants, apricot or apple.
  • Warm milk
  • Yeast. The type of yeast used in this recipe can be instant yeast or active dried yeast. Instant yeast will rise faster than active dried yeast. Whichever one you use, it needs to be viable. Usually, the instant yeast sachets are pretty foolproof, but sometimes active dried yeast can lose viability.
  • Granulated sugar or soft brown sugar
  • All-purpose flour – A strong all-purpose flour with a protein level of at least 11%.
  • Large eggs
  • Salt
  • Vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves
  • Westgold unsalted butter softened to room temperature and cut into cubes

Method

Add the orange juice, raisins, and zest in a small bowl. Heat it in the microwave for 30-40 seconds and stir. Leave the raisins to sit and hydrate while the dough is made.

Warm the milk to around 95-104°F / 35-40°C and pour it into the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle yeast and a tablespoon of sugar over the milk.

thick dough.

Add the flour, remaining sugar, spices, vanilla, salt, and eggs to the milk mixture.

Fit the stand mixer with a dough hook attachment and mix on low speed until a thick and shaggy dough forms.

shaggy dough.

Add in the cubed butter, a few pieces at a time.

Turn the mixer on medium speed and keep it mixing until the sticky dough strengthens and comes together.

hand stretching dough.

Mix the dough for the best gluten development and brioche crumb for at least 15 minutes.

Proper gluten development will allow you to stretch the dough so thin you can almost see through it. This is called a ‘window pane’.

raisins and orange juice in dough.

Add in the raisins and the orange juice.

This will make it sticky again, but they will mix in easily because you’ve already developed the gluten.

raisins in dough.

Keep mixing until the juice is incorporated. 

Pull the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured work space and form it into a ball.

dough with raisins.

I like to tuck the dough under itself a few times to capture all the raisins. Place the dough ball into a large greased bowl.

Cover it with a lid or plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm spot for approximately 1 ½ – 2 hours until doubled in size. 

Punch down the dough and refrigerate it for 8-12 hours for the best flavor, then shape them the next day. Alternatively, go right to shaping.

Shaping

Grease or line a 9×13-inch pan.

Pull the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured work surface. If the dough is refrigerated overnight, it will feel stiff and clammy.

dough balls.

Weigh the dough, then cut it into 12 equal pieces. Shape each piece of dough into a tight ball.

unrisen buns.

Add them to the prepared pan. Let them rise in a warm place until doubled in size, approximately 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350°F/ 180°C standard oven. Mix the ingredients for the crosses into a paste. Scoop it into a small piping bag with a small tip or a ziplock bag with the tip cut off. Pipe the crosses onto the tops of the buns.

crosses piped on buns.

Preheat the oven to 350°F/ 180°C standard oven.

Mix the ingredients for the crosses into a paste. Scoop it into a small piping bag with a small tip or a ziplock bag with the tip cut off.

Pipe the crosses onto the tops of the buns.

glaze brushed on hot cross buns.

Bake the buns for approximately 28-30 minutes until golden brown. In a small bowl, combine sugar and hot water. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Use a pastry brush to brush the hot baked buns with this sugar glaze when they come from the oven.

Leave the buns to cool for about 20 minutes before eating. These warm fluffy sweet rolls are best served with a generous pat of butter.

brioche hot cross bun with butter.

Variations

  • Add chocolate chips instead of raisins for another delicious sweet treat
  • Brush the baked buns with warm apricot jam or a honey glaze instead of a sugar glaze for extra flavor.
  • Use sourdough starter instead of regular yeast and make sourdough hot cross buns.

Storing

Leftover brioche hot cross buns can store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days. The rolls can also be frozen for up to 3 months. They are best served slightly warm on the following days, either toasted or warmed in the microwave.

Related recipes

Brioche Hot Cross Buns

Brioche Hot Cross Buns

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 28 minutes
Additional Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 48 minutes

These delicious, buttery buns are a step up from traditional hot cross buns, with a rich flavor and tender, soft texture.

Ingredients

  • 140g (1 cup) raisins
  • 60g (1/4 cup) orange juice
  • Zest of an orange, finely grated
  • 120g (½ cup) lukewarm milk (95-104°F / 35-40°C)
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast or active dried yeast
  • 80g ( 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon) granulated sugar
  • 530g (4 ¼ cups*) all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 170g (¾ cup) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature and cut into cubes

Paste

  • 32g (¼ cup) all-purpose flour
  • 30g (2 Tablespoons) water

Glaze

  • 30g (2 ½ tablespoons) granulated sugar
  • 45g (3 Tablespoons) boiled water

Instructions

  1. Add the orange juice, raisins, and zest in a small bowl. Heat it in the microwave for 30-40 seconds and stir. Leave the raisins to sit and hydrate while the dough is made.
  2. Pour lukewarm milk into the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle yeast and a tablespoon of sugar over the milk. If using active dry yeast, let this sit for around 5-10 minutes until it becomes foamy; if using instant yeast, this step can be skipped.
  3. Add the flour, remaining sugar, spices, vanilla, salt, and eggs to the milk mixture. Fit the stand mixer with a dough hook attachment and mix on low speed until a thick and shaggy dough forms.
  4. Add in the cubed butter, a few pieces at a time. Turn the mixer on medium speed and keep it mixing until the sticky dough strengthens and comes together, pulling away cleanly from the sides of the bowl.
  5. Mix the dough for the best gluten development and brioche crumb for at least 15 minutes. Proper gluten development will allow you to stretch the dough so thin you can almost see through it. This is called a 'window pane.'
  6. Add in the raisins and the orange juice. This will make it sticky again, but they will mix in easily because you've already developed the gluten. Keep mixing until the juice is incorporated. 
  7. Pull the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured work space and form it into a ball. I like to tuck the dough under itself a few times to capture all the raisins. Place the dough ball into a large, greased bowl. Cover it with a lid or plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm spot for approximately 1 ½ - 2 hours until doubled in size. 
  8. Punch down the dough and refrigerate it for 8-12 hours for the best flavor, then shape them the next day. Alternatively, go right to shaping.

Shaping

  1. Grease or line a 9x13-inch pan.
  2. Pull the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured work surface. If the dough is refrigerated overnight, it will feel stiff and clammy.
  3. Weigh the dough, then cut it into 12 equal pieces. Shape each piece of dough into a tight ball. Add them to the prepared pan. Let them rise in a warm place until doubled in size, approximately 2 hours.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°F/ 180°C standard oven. Mix the ingredients for the crosses into a paste. Scoop it into a small piping bag with a small tip or a ziplock bag with the tip cut off. Pipe the crosses onto the tops of the buns.
  5. Bake the buns for approximately 28-30 minutes until golden brown. In a small bowl, combine sugar and hot water. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  6. Use a pastry brush to brush the hot baked buns with this sugar glaze when they come from the oven. Leave the buns to cool for about 20 minutes before eating.

Notes

*The cup sizes given are US sized cups. Note that these are smaller than metric cups. For best results, use a kitchen scale and measure in grams.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 327Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 78mgSodium: 290mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 2gSugar: 9gProtein: 7g

This is an informational estimate only. I am not a certified Dietitian or Nutritionist

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