Cranberry Orange Hot Cross Buns Recipe



These Cranberry Orange Hot Cross Buns are probably one of my favorite foods. Yes, I have a weird obsession with Hot Cross Buns. I love them. If you don’t know what a hot cross bun is, it’s very simple. It’s just a slightly sweeter yeast roll with some fruits inside it and an icing cross on top.  This particular recipe incorporates dried cranberries and candied orange peel. The candied orange peel is homemade and takes some extra time but is really worth it.

Cranberry Orange Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns are traditionally considered an Easter food. I am not religious or superstitious, but there is a ton of really interesting lore surrounding the hot cross bun. They are a magical, mystical food said to never mold, to ward off bad spirits, to keep your ship from being shipwrecked and to keep your kitchen safe from fire. That’s just the tip of the hot cross bun superstition iceberg. If you’re someone who likes to read about odd superstitions and lore, definitely do some hot cross bun research. In the meantime, here’s my recipe for Cranberry Orange Hot Cross Buns. Enjoy and Happy Easter.

See below the recipe for some step by step photos and commentary.

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Cranberry Orange Hot Cross Buns

Cranberry Orange Hot Cross Buns Recipe

Makes 12.

Adapted from Food Network.


For The Bread –

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 whole milk
  • 2 1/4 ounce packets of active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg, split into yolk and white.
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup candied orange peel (recipe below or purchase some here)

For The Icing –

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tb milk
  • 1/4 tsp finely grated orange zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla

For Candied Orange Peel –

  • 1 large orange, peel only
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar

  1. Make candied orange peel as follows –
    1. Place the peel of one large orange and 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Boil for 15 min. Drain and rinse twice.
    2. Rinse pan well and add 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar. Heat on medium-high until sugar is dissolved. Add orange peel and bring to boil. Reduce and simmer for 45 min – 1 hour.
    3. Drain, but do not rinse. Arrange orange peel on parchment paper and let cool.
    4. Once cool, dice 1/4 cup for recipe and set aside. Eat the rest because it’s delicious or freeze it for later.
  2. Combine water and milk in a saucepan and heat on low until it’s at about 100 degrees but no more than 110 degrees. (If, like me, you don’t have a thermometer for this, 100 degrees is about the same temperature as your skin. Once the mixture doesn’t feel cold or hot, it’s good. If it’s too cold, the yeast won’t activate. Too warm, the yeast will die.)
  3. Remove from heat and sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of sugar and flour over the surface of the liquid. Set aside without stirring, until foamy and rising up the sides of the pan, about 30 minutes.
  4. Whisk the melted butter, egg yolk and vanilla into the yeast mixture. Set aside egg whites for brushing the tops of the buns later.
  5. Whisk the flour, sugar, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger together in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle of the flour mix and pour in the yeast mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until combined. You will have a thick, sticky dough.
  6. Transfer dough onto a floured surface and knead until soft and elastic, about 8 minutes. It’s basically going to stay sticky the whole time, but stick with it.
  7. Fold in cranberries and orange peel, then shape into a ball.
  8. Butter the inside of a large bowl and put dough in bowl. Cover with a towel and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, 45 min to 1 hour 30 min. (You can take a photo of the dough before you cover it, so you’ll know when it’s doubled, or mark the outside of the bowl with a dry erase marker.)
  9. Butter a 9 x 14 inch baking pan. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and pat into a rectangle about the same size as the 9×14 pan. Cut the dough into 12 equal portions, 2 ounces each if you have a scale. Using a pizza cutter is helpful.
  10. Tuck the edges of the dough under to make round rolls and place them seam-side down in the pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap or a towel and set in a warm place, until rolls have at least doubled in size, at least 45 minutes.
  11. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and position rack in the center of the oven.
  12. Once the rolls have risen, brush the tops of the buns with beaten egg white. Bake until golden brown and puffy, 20-25 minutes.
  13. For the icing: stir together all ingredients until smooth. Transfer icing to a zip lock bag and place a small cut in the corner of the bag. Once buns are completely cool, ice a cross on the top of each bun.


And here are some photos from along the journey.

Candied Orange Peel on gray surface

Beautiful and delicious candied orange peel. I’m going to start making candy out of all peels of all fruits. No peel left behind. As you can see, I didn’t slice them pretty or anything before I made it, I just diced it after. When dicing, use a very sharp knife and cut into the white side instead of the orange side to make it easier.

Diced Candied Orange Peel | Cranberry Orange Hot Cross Buns Hot Cross Buns Dough in bowl

This dough was a serious mess. Throughout the whole eight minutes of kneading I was positive this was not going to work, but it did. I recommend listening to “The Next Ten Minutes” from The Last Five Years film (7:38) and pretending like everything’s going to be okay. It will, and you’ll end up, magically, with the next photo.

Hot Cross Buns dough after kneading in bowl Cranberry Orange Hot Cross Buns dough after being cut with bicycle pizza cutter in background

I wasn’t going to cut the dough with a pizza cutter. Then I did. It made it much easier and more accurate than just pulling it apart. I’m mostly just including this photo, though, because of our bicycle pizza cutter. Get your own here – it works really well.

Cranberry Orange Hot Cross Buns dough in ball in buttered baking dish Cranberry Orange Hot Cross Buns dough in balls after rising in baking dish Cranberry Orange Hot Cross Buns after baking on green towel Cranberry Orange Hot Cross Buns from side on green towel without icing

Turned out a little more square and a little darker than I would have liked, but they were delicious. The process was long but worth it.

Tried the recipe? What did you think? Comment and let me know.


Cranberry Orange Hot Cross Buns Recipe Pin | Unicorn Hideout