Recipe: Heart-healthy hot cross buns

I love these buns and they're perfect as an Easter treat. To make them heart-healthy, top with some fresh berries or a dollop of low-fat spread. They are also ideal toasted the next day and can be frozen for up to one month.

If you wish to make a lighter bun, use half wholemeal flour and half strong white bread flour.

Nutritional info

Blueberries are good for the heart as they do not contain any cholesterol. They are also packed with fibre, which helps to reduce the amount of cholesterol in the blood and can reduce your risk of heart disease

How to make heart-friendly hot cross buns

Makes 12 buns


  • 500g strong white flour (plus extra for dusting)
  • 70g unrefined caster sugar
  • 2tsp of mixed spice (8g)
  • 1tsp of cinnamon (2g)
  • 1/4tsp of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 10g fine sea salt
  • 12g dried yeast
  • 50g of margarine, such as Flora (or any other heart-healthy margarine)
  • 150ml of semi-skimmed milk
  • 1 medium egg lightly beaten
  • 40g sultanas
  • 40g dried blueberries
  • Zest of on unwaxed orange
  • Zest of a unwaxed lemon
  • Olive oil (for greasing)

For the crosses

  • 80g plain flour
  • 100ml water

For the glaze

  • 60ml of milk and water (half and half)
  • 30g unrefined caster sugar
  • 1tbsp of apricot jam

Baking tools

  • 2 lightly greased baking sheets lined with parchment.
  • A medium plastic bowl
  • A disposable piping bag and a 3 mm nozzle - if you haven’t got this nozzle you can fill the piping bag with the flour and water cross mixture and snip off the end to create a small hole for piping.
  • Large tumbler to support the piping bag.


  1. Sift the flour, sugar, mixed spice, cinnamon and nutmeg together into a large bowl. Place the salt on one side of the bowl and the dried yeast on the opposite side.

  2. Heat the margarine in a pan until melted (you can also do this in the microwave.) Allow to cool slightly.

  3. Place the 150ml of milk in a heat-proof measuring jug, before adding boiling water to bring the level up to 300ml - this will give you a warm but not hot liquid. Allow to cool slightly.

  4. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the melted margarine, half the milk mixture and the egg.

  5. Use your hand to bring the mixture together, turning the bowl as you bring it in from the edges.

  6. Pour in the sultanas, blueberries, orange and lemon zest. Continue to mix well.

  7. Gradually add more of the milk until you have a fairly soft dough. The dough is better for being slightly wetter than too dry.

  8. Lightly dust the work surface and knead the dough for about 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. I usually find this takes about 500 turns.

  9. Oil a large bowl, form the dough into a ball and place inside. Cover with clingfilm and put in in a warm place to rise for about 1-1/2 hours or to about doubled in size.

  10. Turn the risen dough out on to a lightly floured surface and knead out the some of the larger air bubbles (this is called “knocking back“) before kneading a little more.

  11. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. If you want 12 identical buns then simply weigh the dough and divide by 12. 

  12. To shape each bun into a round with your hands, turn the dough a quarter turn pulling the edge of the dough into the middle do this several times. Place your fingertips on the work surface and form your hand into a dome, rotate your hand to form the bun into a nicely formed, smooth round.

  13. Place the buns on the baking sheet making sure they are placed well apart. (About 6 per sheet.) Place each baking sheet in a large clean polythene bag making sure the bag doesn’t touch the buns. Leave to rise for about 40 minutes or until the buns have doubled in size.

  14. Set the oven for 220°C, 200°C for a fan assisted oven or Gas Mark 7.

  15. Whilst the dough is rising make the paste for piping the crosses. Place the plain flour in a bowl and gradually add the water until you have a not too soft paste that will squeeze easily from the nozzle but not run out freely.

  16. Fill a disposable icing bag with this mixture.

  17. When the buns have risen, remove the polythene bag, snip the end off the piping bag and pipe a cross on each bun. 

  18. Place the buns in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and firm to touch. Check on the buns half way through the bake and turn the baking sheet if the buns are over browning on one side.

  19. Whilst the buns are baking prepare the glaze. Heat the milk and water with the sugar and apricot jam.

  20. When the buns come out of the oven and are still warm, brush them twice with the glaze. Leave on a cooling rack to cool. 

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