Healthier hot cross buns

Olive oil and dark chocolate healthier hot cross buns

Olive oil and dark chocolate combine with a mixture of delicious spices bring together these healthier hot cross buns. They are naturally vegan, free from margarine or vegan butter and low in refined sugar AND they’re soft, fluffy and delicious.

I’ve always been a little scared of baking yeasted breads. It is not something I grew up doing, and it seemed like so much could go wrong. After looking at the ingredients list of store bought breads (including hot cross buns) I knew that had to change. A the store, the choices are either a product wit ha long list of undesirable ingredients or something decidedly unaffordable.

So, I learned to make my own, and, guess what? Not only was it a lot easier than I anticipated, but it was FUN. There is something very therapeutic about working with dough, and you just cant beat the enjoyment of freshly baked.

What makes these healthier hot cross buns?

Well, they;

  •  Contain no refined sugar (depending on your choice of chocolate chips)
  • Use good quality olive oil, not hydrogenated margarine or genetically modified canola
  • Are free from preservatives (like those from the store), additives and flavourings

How to make healthier hot cross buns

Step 1

To begin, you need to combine your hot cross bun ingredients together. This is best done using a stand mixer or food processor with a dough hook, but you can do it by hand- you’ll just need to exert some arm strength.

Add flour, cacao, spices, salt, yeast, flax eggs, milk and maple syrup to the bowl of your food processor, dough hook attached. Run the bread program (or simply process on medium speed) for 6-8 mins. The dough should be in a neat ball, have pulled away from the bowl and be mostly smooth, except for some flax seeds.

Next, with the processor running, every slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Continue to process the dough until all the oil has been incorporated. If you press with your finger the dough will be slightly sticky.

The first proof

Leave the dough in its bowl and cover with a tea towel, in a warm spot. You will need to rest it for approximately 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled size. Choose a spot that is warm, but not hot (like in front of an open fire)- i leave mine in the oven with only the light on, and that works perfectly.

Shape your healthier hot cross buns

Once the dough has risen, turn it onto a lightly floured bench and need out to form a flat rectangle, adding flour to the bench as needed to prevent sticking. Scatter chocolate chips evenly on top, and lightly kneed to distribute. Divide dough into 12 even portions, using a scale if you want to be precise.

Take each portion, and roll into a rough ball. With the ball sitting o the bench top, use your finger to pull the sides into the centre, pinching the dough tother on top (kind of like your making a round dumpling). Flip over the ball- you should now have a neat looking ball. Place on a tray, and repeat with the next portion.

Place shaped hot cross buns in a  3×4 layout, leaving approximately 3cm between each bun.

The second proof

Cover buns with a tea towel, and allow to prove a second time. This should take 45+ minutes, and is an important step in creating a soft and fluffy result. Once the buns have doubled in their size (they should be touching by now), remove from the oven.


Preheat the oven. While its warming, pipe the cross on top of the risen buns then bake for 15-20 mins. To asses if they are ready, tap the centre buns- they should sound hollow.


To finish, cover with the glaze (see recipe) and serve hot. They will keep for 2-3 days, stored in an-air tight container, or can easily be frozen for late use.

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Healthier hot cross buns

  • Author: panaceaspantry
  • Prep Time: 2.5 hours
  • Cook Time: 15-20 mins
  • Total Time: 57 minute
  • Category: Desserts
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American


A healthier hot cross bun made with quality olive oil, dark chocolate and no refined sugar. Fluffy, delicious and easy to make.




  • 3 1/3 cups (420g) bread flour
  • 1/4 cup (25g) cacao/cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp (7g) dry yeast or 14g wet yeast
  • 1 Tbsp (13g) ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp (4g) ground ginger
  • 1 tsp (4g) nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp (2g) all spice
  • 1/2 tsp (4g) salt
  • 1 cup (250ml) milk, lukewarm
  • 2 Tbsp (24g) flax seeds, ground
  • 90ml water
  • 2 Tbsp (30ml) pure maple syrup
  • 100ml Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup sugar free dark chocolate chips**.


  • 1/4 cup (32g) flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp (5mL) pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp (3mL) vanilla extract
  • 23 Tbsp (30-45mL) water


  • 1/4 cup (25g) coconut sugar
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp (50mL) water
  • 1/2 tsp (2g) cinnamon


Make the hot cross buns

  1. Make the flax eggs by combining the flax seeds and 90mL tepid water. Stir in a bowl and allow to thicken for 10 minutes.
  2. Add flour, cacao, spices, salt, yeast, flax eggs, milk and maple syrup to the bowl of food processor with a dough hook attached (see post if you do not have this option).*** Run bread/brioche program until well incorporated (6-8 mins). With program running, slowly drizzle in olive oil until a uniform dough ball forms. The ball should be slightly sticky but have pulled away from the ball be be one round, uniform mass.
  3. Cover with a tea towel, and set in a warm place for 1+ hours to rise, until it at least doubles in size.
  4. Turn dough on a floured bench and need a few times, until the dough is smooth enough it doesn’t stick to your hands. Add choc chips and gently need through, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking to the bench.
  5. Divide into 12 equal portions (scales are best used here), and roll into balls. Use your fingers to pinch the dough under each ball, leaving the top to be rounded and smooth- this will allow the hot cross buns to look good once baked, but won’t really affect how they taste.  Place in a small rectangle dish, with roughly 3cm between each ball. Cover with a tea towel and place in a warm spot for at least an hour, until they double in size. Preheat the oven to 180 C.

Make the cross and bake

  1. To make the cross, whisk together the ingredients. The mixture should be the consistency of running peanut butter, so add more water or flour as necessary, then pipe not the risen hot cross buns. Bake for 15-20mins, or until slightly coloured and they sound hollow when you tap them.
  2. Meanwhile, make the glaze. Add water, sugar and vanilla to a small saucepan and bring to the boil, then simmer for 2-4 mins or until the water has completely dissolved. Turn off heat and allow to thicken for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove cooked buns from the oven, the use a pasty brush to top the warm buns with the thickened glaze.

Enjoy the hot cross buns immediately, or allow to cool completely and store in an air-tight container for 2-3 days.


*Plain flour will work, but bread flour will yield a better texture

** Any choc chips will suffice, however to keep the recipe sugar free we chose sugar free dark chocolate. Likewise, you can substitute for any block chocolate- just cut into small chunks for use.

*** You can make the dough without a food processor, but it is hand work on your arms. Simply exchange step 2 by putting the listed ingredients into a bowl and mixing with a wooden spoon. It will be HARD work. Once well incorporated, add the olive oil and mix until it is well incorporated. Turn not a floured bench top and kneed until smooth- roughly 8-10 mins.

Ensure when you add the yeast and salt to the bowl that they do not directly touch.

For best results, follow the gram and ml measurements. This is much more accurate, and will ensure the dough works perfectly.


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