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Hot Cross Buns That Stay Fresher For Longer

Easter just wouldn’t be the same without plump, fresh buttered hot cross buns. Soft and pillowy, bursting with sweet spicy flavour, here’s how to make the easiest no-knead hot cross buns that will stay fresh for days. 


According to a tongue-in-cheek 2021 survey, perfect hot cross buns should be toasted for exactly 62 seconds. They should be liberally buttered – and enjoyed at exactly 11am with a cup of tea.

At the Culinary Cartel, though, we’re all about innovation and freedom of expression. So, we won’t be quite as prescriptive. Enjoy your hot cross buns just the way you like them. 

The Universal Appeal of Warm, Freshly Buttered Hot Cross Buns

Usually, hot cross buns are found in stores only around Easter – for obvious reasons. But if you’re a year-round lover of baked goods, here’s a simple recipe that delivers the softest, tastiest hot cross buns you’re ever likely to make. Because we’re using tangzhong (see below) to enhance the fluffiness and prolong the freshness of these hot cross buns, you’ll be able to enjoy them for up to 2-3 days after making them.

And, if you’re planning on making these specifically as an Easter treat, you may want to add to the occasion by also baking something savoury, like this crispy Turkish Börek.

No-knead, no fuss hot cross buns 

Even if you’re in the habit of making your own hot cross buns, you’ll know that there’s usually some work involved. This recipe, on the other hand, saves you time and effort – there’s no prolonged kneading or working of the dough required. Plus, the proportions are perfect for an air fryer! You also benefit from a low active cook time, which means you can prepare and whip these up quickly and easily for any occasion – even if it’s just an impromptu Sunday tea.

You can check out the recipe video here.



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As always, if you try this recipe let us know how it goes! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag your photo #theculinarycartel on Instagram so we can see what you come up with.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is tangzhong?

Tangzhong is a Japanese-originated method of adding to the volume and lightness of breads, buns, etc. For this recipe, it involves pre-heating a portion of your flour, water, and milk mixture (the roux) and making a paste. This paste (with added butter and egg) is then stirred back into your dough mix. The tangzhong pre-gelatinises the starches in the flour so they hold more water.

This results in a no-knead dough that rises beautifully to triple its size in 2 hours or less. And, when baked, the water-laden gluten strands formed through the tangzhong process create more steamy air pockets. 

The result? Light, airy buns that don’t get stodgy, that are a delight to eat, and stay fresh and tasty for far longer.

Can I increase the size of the hot cross buns?

Yes, you can. Simply double up on the ingredients to produce larger buns, or increase the quantity, and of course you can then use your regular oven instead of an air fryer.

What’s the best way to knead sticky dough?

Because you’re using the tangzhong mix in your  dough, it will be characteristically sticky and full. However, remember that there’s no prolonged kneading required, except for a quick punch down and fold once the dough has risen fully. For this, you can just lightly dust your hands with a little flour, or apply a little cooking oil to prevent having to scrape sticky dough from your fingers. 

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Hot Cross Buns That Stay Fresher For Longer

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  • Author: Jess Bunn
  • Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: 12 mini buns


Soft and pillowy, bursting with sweet spicy flavour, here’s how to make the easiest no-knead hot cross buns that will stay fresh for days!



Hot Cross Buns

  • 270g Bread flour
  • 40g Sugar
  • 30g/ 3 Tbsp water
  • 3/4 tsp / 4g Salt
  • 3 Tbsp / 45g Milk
  • 25g Butter
  • 1 Egg
  • 5g Yeast
  • 1 tsp / 3g Allspice
  • 1 tsp / 3g Cinnamon
  • Zest of 1 orange or clementine
  • 50g Sultana raisins


  • 30g Flour
  • 80g Water
  • 50g Milk

Glaze and Piping

  • 1 Egg
  • 70g flour, mixed with 50-70g water for piping
  • 1 tsp Confectioner’s sugar (optional)
  • apricot jam for glazing

Special Equipment

  • 9x7 inch (23cm x 18cm) rimmed baking sheet


  1. In a small bowl, add the yeast, room temperature milk and water, along with half of the sugar, then whisk to combine. The mixture should be just warm or blood temperature to activate the yeast. Remember, liquid that is too hot can kill your yeast, so be cautious.  Set aside to allow the mixture to get foamy (about 5 minutes).
  2. Now, the tangzhong. Combine the specified portions of flour, water, and milk, and whisk until smooth. Next, pop the mixture into the microwave and stir every 20 seconds until the flour and water create a thick, gloopy paste. Then, add the butter to the mixture, and stir until the butter has melted in and everything is evenly combined. Allow to cool to room temperature then whisk in the egg.
  3. Make the dough by adding the flour, salt, and remaining half of the sugar in a bowl. Once the yeast is foamy, whisk the yeast mixture into the egg and tangzhong, then form a well in the flour and pour in the mixture.
  4. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, stir the mixture until no traces of flour remain, and the dough is evenly mixed. The dough will be thick and sticky with a shaggy texture. Add the orange zest and raisins, and gently mix them in to ensure even distribution. Cover the dough with a damp tea towel and allow it to rise until tripled in volume. This usually takes about 1-2 hours depending on the temperature.
  5. Once tripled in volume, lightly oil your hands so the dough doesn’t stick to them, punch the dough down, and then briefly mix the dough in the bowl to get rid of any bubbles.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, roll it into a sausage shape, then divide into 12 even pieces. You can bust out the scale here if you want to have very uniform hot cross buns. Simply weigh the dough then divide by 12 to get a weight to aim for per bun.
  7. Dust the balls in flour to prevent sticking, and using very lightly oiled hands, push the dough balls into a disk. Gather the edges of the disk into the centre to form a tight ball, then flip so the seam side is down, and roll the ball between your hands. Repeat with the remaining dough balls, then place all the dough balls seam-side down onto your baking sheet, leaving a slight gap between each ball to allow for room to prove.
  8. Drape a sheet of cling wrap over the dough and set aside for 30- 60 minutes to prove, until double in size.
  9. Once ready to bake, preheat your air fryer. Select bake, set the temperature to 165 C and the time to 17 minutes. If you’re using a regular oven (or increasing the size of the buns), the cook time is typically around 20-25 minutes depending on oven heating capacity.
  10. Before baking, brush the tops of the buns with beaten egg to ensure a deep golden glaze, and if you’d like to, pipe the traditional cross on top of the buns.
  11. For the piping, combine the water and flour until it forms a thick pipeable paste. Place this into a piping bag with 2mm nozzle or simply into a sandwich bag, and snip off a small piece of the corner. Pipe the crosses over the buns.
  12. pop your hot cross buns into the air fryer or oven.
  13. once cooked through, brush with a little apricot jam heated in the microwave until runny for a glossy finish. Get ready to enjoy the lightest, freshest hot cross buns you’ve ever tasted!
  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 20 min
  • Category: Sweet Treats
  • Method: Bake


  • Serving Size: 12
  • Calories: 173.24kcal
  • Sugar: 7.89g
  • Sodium: 142.41mg
  • Fat: 2.98g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.5g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 1.13g
  • Trans Fat: 0.01g
  • Carbohydrates: 32.16g
  • Fiber: 1.25g
  • Protein: 4.53g
  • Cholesterol: 19.52mg
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