The perfect hot cross buns made with stout

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hot cross buns

I adore hot cross buns and have always been quite happy to buy them. Admittedly, I am fussy about where I get them though. Hot cross buns are not all made equal in the mainstream retail environment. I always try to find the extra fruity and spicy ones too.

That has now all changed.

stout hot cross buns

spiced stout hot cross buns

I have made and mastered these easy and delicious stout hot cross buns, and now a supermarket version just pales in comparison. I based my recipe on Dan Lepard’s spiced stout buns, adapting it to suit my fruity taste buds and to use my favourite local stout which comes in a 340ml bottle. Castle Milk stout has a lovely flavour with hints of chocolate, so it works beautifully with these buns.

hot cross buns

I adapted a few of the ingredients and the method slightly, I found that placing the dough in a warm sunny spot during the two long proving times helped to lighten them up.

easystout hot cross spiced buns

I also added a little more yeast which may have contributed to this too. I did however stick to the strange interval kneading routine but would like to give them a bash by doing it another way.

I added half cranberries and half raisins because I love the slight tartness the cranberries add, and I have also used 100g soft dried Turkish apricots which I finely chopped. A 100g of mixed citrus peel is essential to me and you can buy this already chopped.

stout hot cross buns

I did a version adding two tablespoons of cocoa powder and this worked out really well, but on the whole, I prefer a more traditional spiced bun.

The buns take a while to make in that you start the prep the night before, but the process is pretty effortless as they kind of make themselves. They are made by hand with very little kneading involved. I’m smitten.

If I’m not eating them straight out of the oven, I love to toast them. Always served with lashings of butter melting right into the core of them.

Cooks note ~ I found making the paste that you pipe over the buns to make the crosses a little tricky. The flour and water mix tends to clump a bit. So I used an electric whisk to smooth this out and poured it into a plastic piping bag and cut it to make a very small hole on the end. I found that none of my piping nozzles were the right size. It also gets quite messy, so you can just throw it all away once finished piping.

stout hot cross buns

This recipe makes 16 – 18 buns, but any excess can be frozen. You can use a mix of raisins and cranberries or all of one or the other.


Easy stout hot cross buns

My all-time favourite and easy hot cross buns with stout. 

  • Author: Sam Linsell
  • Prep Time: overnight
  • Cook Time: 25
  • Total Time: 0 minute
  • Yield: 16-18
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: British


1 x 340ml bottle Castle Milk stout

2 tsp instant dry yeast

2 tsp cinnamon

1/1/2 tsp ground ginger

1tsp mixed spice

870g flour (divided)

100g citrus peel

150g raisins

150g dried cranberries

100g soft dried apricots, finely chopped

250ml strong black tea

1 egg

50g melted butter

50g caster sugar (plus extra for glaze)

1 ½ tsp salt


Prepare the mix the night before by mixing the stout, spices, yeast and 320g of flour in a large bowl. Mix to combine everything and leave uncovered.

Brew a strong cup of tea in 250ml boiling water and pour this over the raisins, dried cranberries, peel and apricots in a separate bowl.

The following day, mix the egg and melted butter with the fruit, and then stir this into beer and spice batter.

Add the remaining 550g flour, sugar and salt. Tip this onto a work surface and briefly knead to form a large ball. Leave for 10 minutes. Lightly oil your hands and knead the dough for 10 seconds, leave for 10 minutes, then repeat twice more at 10-minute intervals, then leave for an hour covered with a tea towel in a warm spot.

Using a bread cutter or sharp knife, divide the dough into 100g pieces (use a scale to make this easier and to achieve consistency) and shape them into balls. Arrange these on a large baking tray lined with baking paper so they are just touching each other. Cover with a tea towel and place in a warm spot for 90 minutes.

Preheat the oven before the proving has finished. Mix a little flour with water to form a runny paste consistency (use an electric whisk to get this smooth if necessary). Place in a plastic piping bag and cut a very small edge off the tip. Pipe crosses on each ball of dough. Bake at 200C (180C fan-assisted) for 25 minutes.

If necessary, loosely cover with a sheet of tin foil to prevent over-browning. Mix 2 tablespoons of castor sugar with 2 tablespoons of water and brush this over the hot cross buns as they come out of the oven. Serve with lashings of butter.


Freeze any leftover hot cross buns for later use. You can pre-slice them to make it easier to toast from frozen.

Keywords: hot cross buns, stout, easy, perfect




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  1. Oooh these look yummy! I must try them. The last time I attempted to bake hot cross buns they came out as hot cross rocks 🙂

  2. Here inEurope we do not have Castle Milk Stout…will Guiness do or is there any other substitute? Thanks xxx

  3. Ha ha Meridy – had a good laugh. These will work if you follow all hte instructions. I promise.

  4. Hi Sam,

    This is the recipe I always use for HX Buns. Living in the tropics I use a tropical candied fruit mix which includes papaya which is delicious. I get it in Thailand, you may be able tofind it in Cape Town Maristella, if you can find it, Boddingtons is perfect.

  5. Hi Liz, I love the sound of the tropical candied fruit. I think next time I make them I’m going to add even more.

  6. Oh wow! These look divine! I am too scared to make my own, but this year I am on the hunt for something a little more upmarket than your usual store bought hot cross bun. I’m hoping a delicious local bakery that specialises in yummy treats will be making some for Easter! I also only ever eat them on Easter Sunday. For me, I just can’t bring myself to eat them any other time of the year!! (strange I know!)

  7. Hi – I totally get the eating on Easter Sunday only part, Im very into eating traditions. I always eat them on that day too. I have quite a few of these buns in my freezer so will just whip them out then.

  8. This looks divine! I was ready to make it as soon as I read the recipe and saw the beautiful pics. But…. I never learn… Why o why do I always attempt a new recipe when I’m doing all kinds of other things as well?? I misread the amount of stout for 1 340ml and not one 340ml bottle 🙁 Will have to try again when I’m in my Zen space 😉

  9. Oh dear Deidre – Im sorry this didnt work out. Gosh that would be a hell of a lot of liquid.

  10. Thanks Thalia, luckily I froze the leftovers so am nibbling on them as we head towards Easter.

  11. I have a deep-rooted fondness for hot cross buns and love baking them for Easter, your (& Lepard’s) stout version will certainly get a proper outing here, soon. Even if Easter has passed by then and we had our own to gobble up first but freezing worked out quite well in the past for us, too. Happy Easter and have a lot of buns on today’s Good Friday, Nicole

  12. I am trying these out today it being Good Friday and all. I made a few little changes in that I used rooibos tea for soaking the fruit and some organic sugar instead of caster.

  13. Hi Sam. Made these again, but this time using chocolate infused Castle Milk Stout (I was working with Milk Stout team when you developed these and other recipes with them). Thanks for the inspiration.

  14. Mine tasted amazing but weren’t light and fluffy like yours looked…they were a bit heavy. Any idea what could’ve been the cause?

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