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On Good Friday Mr M and I found ourselves at home and in the mood for a cooking fest. I had an intense craving for a hot cross bun as due to my wheat-free status this Easter I hadn’t eaten one at all (usually I can get my hands on some lovely rye buns from Alex’s Wuppertaler & Rye Bakery, but for some reason I couldn’t find them this year). This month’s Gourmet Traveller was lying about the house and contained a delicious recipe for apple hot cross buns that was crying out to be made. We had almost all the ingredients on hand and a quick trip to Sonsa in Smith St netted me some dried apple and mixed peel.

I was a bit stressed that our spelt bun making efforts would be disastrous, given some of my past spelt-flour failures. It is always a guessing game as to quantities and spelt dough is difficult to deal with – much stickier than dough made with regular flour. However, it all worked out beautifully. The buns are relatively quick and easy to make, except for the proving time required with the dough. I was really happy with the consistency of the buns, light and chewy and beautiful.

I find that spelt breads are generally drier and denser than ordinary breads (due to the lower gluten content), however, these buns were moist and delicious. I think the addition of the cooked apple really works very well here to combat any potential dryness. Note that in making the spelt buns I added extra flour but I didn’t add additional quantities of fruit or peel and the buns were still deliciously full of fruit.

While I have missed the boat by failing to post this before Easter, these buns could certainly be enjoyed year round (just omit the cross). I think it would be lovely to whip up a batch of these if hosting a late brunch or an afternoon tea. Seriously delicious.


Apple hot cross buns

(adapted from Gourmet Traveller)

325 g caster sugar
1 lemon
1½ Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cored, diced
1 cinnamon quill
800g plain flour  (if using spelt – 950g)
75g sultanas
75g raisins
50g dried apple, diced
30g mixed peel
14 g (2 sachets) dried yeast (if using spelt – about 10g)
3½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp allspice
Finely grated rind of 1 orange and 1 lemon
380 ml milk
100 gm butter, coarsely chopped
1 egg

  • Combine 260g sugar and 375ml water in a saucepan, then squeeze in juice of half a lemon and stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves.
  • Cut remaining lemon half into 5mm-thick slices, add to pan with apple and cinnamon quill. Bring to the simmer, reduce heat to medium and cook until lemon and apple are translucent (20-25 minutes).


  • Strain, reserving both the fruit and syrup separately.
  • Dice lemon, combine with apple and set aside.
  • Combine 700g plain flour (or 840g spelt flour), sultanas, raisins, dried apple, mixed peel, yeast, 3 tsp ground cinnamon, allspice, rinds, remaining sugar, reserved apple mixture and 1 tsp salt in a large bowl and make a well in the centre.


  • Combine milk and butter in a small saucepan, warm over low heat until butter melts and mixture is lukewarm.


  • Whisk in egg, then add milk mixture to flour, stirring with a wooden spoon to form a soft dough (this needed some arm muscles!)


  • Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (8-10 minutes) or pop it into a mixer with a dough hook and knead until smooth and elastic (4 minutes or so). Note that using an electric mixer is much easier if you are making a spelt bun as the dough is much stickier than dough made with regular flour.
  • Place in a lightly buttered bowl, cover and stand in a warm place until doubled in size (30-40 minutes).



  • Knock back dough, divide into 20 even pieces (you can make about 24 if you are following the spelt recipe) then knead each piece into a smooth ball.
  • Arrange dough balls into two concentric circles on a large round or rectangular baking tray lined with baking paper, leaving 1cm between each for dough to expand. Cover with a tea towel and stand in a warm place until doubled in size (30-40 minutes).


  • Preheat oven to 220C. Combine remaining flour with equal parts cold water in a bowl and stir to a smooth paste. Add additional water until you reach the desired consistency – it needs to be liquid enough to pipe easily but must be thick enough so that the lines hold. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a small plain nozzle and pipe a cross shape onto each bun.

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  • Bake for 10 minutes then reduce oven to 200C and bake until golden and buns sound hollow when tapped (8-10 minutes).
  • After the first 10 minutes, combine reserved syrup and remaining ground cinnamon in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until syrupy and combined.


  • Brush over hot buns – a generous amount is good, but be don’t oversoak the buns.


  • Transfer to a wire rack to cool…


Then devour:



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11 Responses to “Spelt hot cross buns: seriously delicious”

  1. Saskia says:

    I can vouch for these being a triumph! Not only do they look beautiful but they tasted lovely also!!

    Good work.

  2. Ren says:

    Dear Emily

    Nice Buns.

    Query how one ‘knocks back’ dough. The only thing i knock back are ice cold beers…Unlike apples, they definately ‘combat any potential dryness’ in my mouth.

    Yours always

    Renski aka ‘Hot Buns’

  3. Sonya says:

    Oooh it pleased me….and my husband and son…..thank you, thank you, thank you….

    I searched high and low for spelt hot cross buns and I’m glad I found your version, they turned out great (I maybe went a bit heavy with the glaze but it was soooo nice). I’m going to have a go at using your stewed apple/sugar/lemon in my spelt bread to see if it gives it a nicer texture….


    • Emily says:

      Good to hear they went well for you Sonya! I made them again too this year and they are so yummy. Would be interested to hear how your bread goes!

      On the spelt front, most recipes on the site will include spelt conversions, even if it doesn’t say it in the title. Anything I bake personally will be with spelt, or GF…

  4. Sonya says:

    Finally got around to making the bread loaf with the apple mix…thumbs up and a ‘yes make that again’ from the hubby says that I got the ‘bit of this, bit of that’ pretty right (hard one to please he is when it comes to spelt!)

    I used a ‘normal’ bread receipe and added the apple/sugar/lemon(no rind)/water mix. Had to add a bit (extra 3cups) of flour to get the right consistency and baked in a 200 oven for 25/30min….mmmm nice

    Thanks once again Emily!!

  5. Yosi says:

    Hi Emily, love your site. I want to make this hot cross bun, but I have a question. Is the apple 1.5 each or 1.5 kg of apple? Thanks

    • Emily says:

      Hi Yosi – it’s one and a half apples. Hope it goes well!

      • Yosi says:

        Hi Emily, thank you for your reply. I will let you know how it goes when I make it this weekend. I did make Your banana choc chip muffin with spelt flour. It was yummy, my kids love it. It was my first time using spelt flour, it has different consistency than normal flour. But I will keep experimenting with it. thank you.

        • Emily says:

          Hi Yosi – yes I’d love to hear how it goes. Glad the choc banana muffins went well. Spelt flour is different – it doesn’t hold moisture at the same rate as normal flour (which is why I always add extra flour for spelt recipes) its also a bit sticker…

  6. sara says:

    I am just waiting for these to come out of the oven they smell delicious thanks for the recipe x

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