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These NO KNEAD Hot Cross Buns are super soft, fluffy, loaded with apples and perfectly spiced. With my no fail recipe for these delicious Apple Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns, you’ll be making the easiest and best buns ever with no kneading required!
No Knead Hot Cross Buns
This really is the best hot cross buns recipe! I’ve made them twice already this past week and let me tell you that I’m still not tired of eating them. They’re just so perfect for breakfast with coffee or for a quick snack. I absolutely love them.
You know what’s great about hot cross buns? They really are versatile. My version here is for apple cinnamon hot cross buns, but check out my original recipe here with raisins soaked in rum, which are just as great. But my favorite thing about these hot cross buns is that no kneading is required and no special equipment such as a mixer is necessary.
So what does this mean? Everyone can make them! You have no excuse for not making these because they couldn’t get any easier.
What Are Hot Cross Buns?
These little buns are traditionally served on Easter. The cross is, of course, representative of a cross, and the bun represents the end of lent. Whether you celebrate Easter or not, these buns are so fantastic and can be enjoyed by everyone!
Ingredients in Hot Cross Buns
I know the list of ingredients looks kind of long, but don’t worry. You will have most of these ingredients already in your kitchen! They’re all very basic. Keep scrolling for the full recipe and ingredient amounts.
For the buns:
- Apples – I used gala apples for this recipe. Granny Smith apples would also work. I shredded these apples with a cheese grater, it’s much easier than chopping them.
- Salt – I used the salt in two places here. Some of it is used to draw out moisture from the apples, and some is used for the dough. You can use less or more if you prefer.
- Milk – I used 2% milk, but you can use skim, 1% or homogenized.
- Granulated sugar – You can add a little more or less sugar if you’d like.
- Instant yeast – If you use active dry yeast, you will have to wait a bit longer for the yeast to dissolve and get foamy.
- All-purpose flour – If you use whole wheat instead, use only 4 1/2 cups. If you use gluten-free flour, use xanthan gum to replace the gluten or your buns will turn out dry.
- Nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon – You can adjust or leave out any of these spices as you wish.
- Eggs – I used large eggs for this recipe.
- Butter – I always cook with unsalted butter. This will give you full control over the amount of sodium.
For the glaze:
- Water – You can use more or less water depending on the consistency you’re looking for. Since it’s a glaze, I’d suggest keeping it thin.
- Granulated sugar – You can substitute an equal amount of honey or agave.
- Cinnamon – You can adjust the amount or leave the cinnamon out if you prefer.
For the cross:
- Icing sugar – This is also known as confectioners’ sugar or powdered sugar depending where you’re from.
- Cream cheese – You can use low fat, full fat, or vegan cream cheese.
- Butter – Make sure your butter is unsalted and room temperature so it’s easy to mix in.
- Cinnamon – You can adjust the amount or leave the cinnamon out if you prefer.
- Vanilla – You can use vanilla extract or vanilla paste.
- Water – I used a bit of water to thin it out so it was easier to pipe onto the buns. You can also use milk or leave it out if you like a thicker icing.
I love my hot cross buns on the sweeter side so I always like to make the crosses with icing rather than the more traditional way of using a flour and water paste. Totally up to you how you do it, be sure to check out the recipe notes for using flour/water paste.
How to Make No Knead Hot Cross Buns
- Sweat the apples: Place the shredded apple on paper towels, a clean kitchen towel, or cheesecloth, then in a strainer. Sprinkle salt over them and let everything sit for 5 minutes. Squeeze out as much of the excess liquid as you can.
- Make the dough: In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the warm milk, yeast, and sugar. Let it sit until everything foams up. In a separate larger bowl mix the dry ingredients. Stir in the apples and make sure they’re all evenly coated with flour and are not clumping. Add the eggs and butter to your yeast mixture and stir well. Add the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients and mix well using either a wooden spoon or your hands. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let it double in size.
- Form your buns: Use a 16.5 x 11 inch baking sheet and line it with parchment paper. Sprinkle flour over the top of the dough, over your work surface, and on your hands. Shape the dough into a log and cut it into 24 pieces. Flatten each piece, pinch the sides all together, then flip the ball and roll it to smooth out the top. Place each bun on the baking sheet and cover it with kitchen towels and let the buns rise until they are about 50-70% bigger. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Glaze the rolls: While the bread is baking, make your glaze. Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the glaze from the heat and let it cool. Brush the rolls with the glaze right after they come out of the oven.
- Ice the rolls: Let the rolls cool fully. Whisk all the icing ingredients together until smooth. Using a piping bag or ziploc bag, pipe the crosses onto your rolls.
Can I Leave Out the Apples?
Yes you can! If you want these to just be plain, you can leave the apples and spices out. If you want to try something a little different, though, this version is seriously incredible. The light tough of spice with those sweet apples? You’ll be in heaven.
You could add so many different things to them, like currants or craisins, orange peel, how about some chocolate chips or go for a savory version and add some cheese!
Tips for Making the Best Hot Cross Buns
- Proofing the yeast before you get into the rest of the dough is key. If your yeast doesn’t foam up, no matter what the expiry date on your yeast say, the buns won’t turn out. Store your yeast in the freezer and it will last longer. However, I’m using instant yeast in this recipe and the difference between instant yeast and active dry yeast is that you don’t need to activate instant yeast. I still prefer to do this because it tells me if my yeast is good.
- This dough is meant to be sticky! Check out the video in the recipe card to get an idea for how the dough should look. If yours seems stickier, you can add a little bit more flour.
- Dough rises best in a draft-free, warm environment. You can preheat your oven to the lowest setting, then turn it off. That will create a wonderful environment for your dough.
- I prefer to use parchment paper over cooking spray to avoid unnecessary grease on the bottom of my buns.
- Yeast needs sugar to thrive and grow. You can reduce the amount of sugar in the dough, but don’t leave it out entirely.
How to Store Hot Cross Buns
If you have leftovers, store these in an airtight container or a large ziploc back. Because of the cream cheese icing I would keep these in the fridge. They will last about a week refrigerated. You can also keep some of them un-iced and keep them on the counter in an airtight container or bag so they don’t dry out as much. They will last 2-3 days at room temperature.
How to Freeze Hot Cross Buns
To freeze unbaked rolls:
Form them into rolls immediately after making the dough- don’t let it rise. Let them freeze on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and then topped with plastic wrap. Once they are frozen solid, you can transfer them to a freezer bag. They will last about 2 weeks.
To bake them, place however many rolls you need on a baking sheet. Cover the rolls and let them thaw and rise. You can place them in a warm oven to speed this process up. Once they have doubled in size, bake them as instructed.
To freeze baked rolls:
Once they have fully cooled, wrap them well with foil and store in an airtight container. They will last about 1 month before freezer burn starts to become an issue. Let them thaw fully at room temperature.
Want to Make More Bread? Try These Recipes:
- Classic Dinner Rolls
- Sticky Buns
- Fast and Easy No Knead Bread
- No Knead Skillet Bread
- Homemade Croissants
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No Knead Hot Cross Buns
Cinnamon Sugar Glaze
- ⅓ cup water
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- ½ tsp cinnamon ground
- Place the shredded apples on 4 sheets of paper towels in a strainer, and place the strainer inside a bowl. Sprinkle 1 tsp of salt over the apples and stir them. This will release the liquid from the apples, this way we can control the liquid in the dough. Let them sit for 5 minutes, then squeeze the juice from the apples, as much as you can. Keep the juice, in case you need more liquid for the dough.
- In a medium size bowl, whisk the warm milk with the sugar and yeast. Let it rest for 5 minutes. If using active dry yeast, it might take longer for the yeast to activate, 10 to 15 minutes. See notes for more info.
- In another large bowl add the flour, the other tsp of salt, nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon then whisk until fully incorporated. Stir in the shredded apple.
- To the bowl with the milk and yeast add the eggs, butter and whisk well. Add this to the flour mixture. Mix well with a wooden spoon until well combined. You should have a thick sticky dough, see video. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let it rest until doubled in size, for about 1 hour. See notes for tips.
- Remove the towel from the dough and sprinkle with some flour over the top. Also dust your work surface and hands with flour. Place the dough on the work surface and shape it into a log. Cut it into 24 equal pieces.
- To shape each piece into a roll, take a piece and flatten it with your palm or fingers. Fold it up into a ball by pinching the sides together, turn it over and roll it briefly. See video.
- Place the bun with the smooth side up onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough pieces and line them up 4 x 6.
- Cover the baking sheet with a clean kitchen towel and let the rolls rise a second time for about 30 minutes. Do NOT let them rise longer, you only want them to rise about 50% to 75% more as they will finish rising in the oven.
- About 10 minutes before the rolls are done rising, preheat your oven to 350 F degrees. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake the rolls for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Cinnamon Sugar Glaze
- In a small sauce pan add all the glaze ingredients and heat over medium heat. After it comes to a boil, turn down the heat and cook for another 3 minutes. All the sugar should be dissolved and the glaze should have thickened a bit. Remove from heat and set aside. The glaze should thicken more as it cools.
- Once the hot cross buns are done baking, remove them from the oven and immediately brush them with the glaze. Let them cool for 10 minutes.
- Whisk all the icing ingredients together and transfer the icing to a piping bag or ziploc bag. Snip the piping bag or a corner of the ziploc bag.
- Pipe crosses onto the buns with the icing.
- Crosses: Traditionally the crosses on hot cross buns are made with a flour and water mixture, not icing. If you want to do this, whisk together about 1/2 cup of flour and 5 tbsp water until a paste forms. Transfer this to a piping bag and pipe crosses on the buns before baking.
- Tip for increasing dough rising time: Preheat your oven to 150 F to 200 F degrees, then turn off the oven. Place the covered bowl with the dough in the oven and close the door. The dough should rise in 30 minutes to 1 hour. This will ensure a nice and warm, draft free environment for the dough.
- Yeast: I used instant yeast but active dry yeast can be used as well. Please note that usually instant yeast does not need to be activated, only active dry yeast does. However, I like to mix whisk my instant yeast with the milk sugar, but it can be added directly to the flour.
- Make sure your milk is not too hot or it could kill the yeast which will cause your dough not to rise at all. The ideal temperature for the milk should be between 105 F degrees and 110 F for proofing. While 95 F degrees is the best temperature for yeast to multiply, that's not warm enough for proofing active dry yeast.
- Always check the expiration date on your yeast and make sure it hasn't expired. All your yeast products whether it’s in a jar or a package should be stamped with a “Best if Used by” date. Always make sure you check this date, even when you purchase the yeast, who knows it could have been on the shelf past its expiry date.
- To keep your yeast fresh and longer lasting, unopened yeast packages or jars should be stored in a cool or dry place such as your cupboard. However, you can also store your yeast in the fridge or freezer. If you do store it in the freezer and need to use yeast for your baking, make sure you take out the amount you need and let it sit at room temperature for at least half hour before using.
- Once your yeast package or jar has been opened, you must refrigerate the yeast or freeze it in an airtight container.