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Gingery Whole Wheat Hot Cross Buns with Cream Cheese Frosting

These might be the best hot cross buns you’ll ever eat. Baked healthier, with whole wheat and honey and sugar-free frosting, these Gingery Hot Cross Buns celebrate spring!

Gingery Hot Cross Buns | Letty's Kitchen

Imagine a batch of soft dinner rolls, nicely spiced with cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and mace, with candied ginger pieces, dried apricots, cranberries, and dates in every little bite. These gingery hot cross buns are honey-sweetened and made with whole wheat flour, and crossed with cream cheese and maple syrup frosting.


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ingredients for Gingery Hot Cross Buns | Letty's Kitchen

The cross symbolizes several things. In the Christian tradition, in the 40 days before Easter known as Lent, the white icing cross on each bun represents Good Friday and Holy Week. Hot cross buns commemorate the renewal of life that happens each spring–think tulips and daffodils popping up all over and chirping birds busying their nest. We may have to wait a little longer for the blossoms here in the mountains, but there’s no waiting for these buns. The time is now. This is hot cross bun season!

Gingery Hot Cross Buns in pan | Letty's Kitchen

In my former pastry chef life, we baked hot cross buns from Mardi Gras right up until Easter. The tradition continues, so if you visit Deer Valley in the spring, be sure to pick up a hot cross bun. For a new, more healthful and rustic-feeling treat, I traded honey for the brown sugar, and whole wheat flour for the all purpose flour in Deer Valley’s recipe. The original recipe is in my Chocolate Snowball cookbook.

Happy Spring! Keep up the tradition. Or start one. Make these ginger-spiced, fruit-filled buns with a cross on top.

Hot-cross buns! Hot-cross buns! One a penny, two a penny, hot-cross buns. If you have no daughters, give them to your sons. Hot-cross buns! Hot-cross buns! ~ Old Nursery Rhyme

Gingery Hot Cross Buns recipe details:

  • Yeast doughs, hot cross buns for example, are about passive time. 20 minutes to prepare the dough, then an hour of rising, 10 minutes to shape the rolls, and another hour of rising. You can make and shape the dough one day, and bake them the next.

Gingery Hot Cross Buns proofed

  • If it works better in your schedule, mix and shape the rolls the day before. Let them rise overnight in the fridge and bake them off in the morning. Or make and bake your hot cross buns the day before—they’re easy to refresh with a light sprinkle of water and a reheat in the oven. Decorate with the cross until just before serving.
  • To make these gingery hot cross buns, I bought white whole wheat flour–lighter in color and flavor than the whole wheat flour we are most familiar with. White whole wheat flour, ground from white wheat berries, includes the bran, germ and endosperm of the wheat grain, the same as regular whole wheat flour which is ground from hard red wheat berries. Read more here. If you prefer your rolls less rustic, feel free to substitute unbleached all-purpose flour for all or some of the white whole wheat flour.
  • I use instant dry yeast, which does not need to be dissolved in warm water before mixing the dough. You just stir instant dry yeast into the other dry ingredients and use a warmer liquid. Saf-instant dry yeast and the trademarked RapidRise yeast, as well as bread machine yeast, are all instant dry yeast. If you use regular active dry yeast, keep your milk below 110°F.
  • Special products and equipment used to make this recipe:
    Heavy duty electric mixer
    Instant read thermometer
    Pastry bag and tip
    9 x 13-inch baking dish
    White whole wheat flour
    Candied ginger

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Gingery Hot Cross Buns in pan
Print
Gingery Hot Cross Buns
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
3 hrs
 

These gingery hot cross buns are traditional for spring celebrations. Make them for Easter brunch.

Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Author: Letty's Kitchen
Ingredients
Dough:
  • 3 ½ to 4 cups white whole wheat flour (see note)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant dry yeast (see note)
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1 ¼ cups warm milk (see note)
  • 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup candied ginger, cut in ½-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried apricots, cut in ½-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried cranberries or dried cherries, cut in ½-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup pitted dates, cut in ½-inch pieces
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon milk or water, for glaze
Cross:
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
Make the dough:
  1. In the work bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer or in a large bowl, mix 3 cups white whole wheat flour, and the yeast, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and mace.

  2. Add the warm milk, honey, melted butter and egg, stirring with a wooden spoon to blend. If using a stand mixer, fit it with the dough hook, and knead at a low speed. Otherwise, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand. Knead about 5 minutes, adding the remaining 1/2 cup of flour if necessary, until the dough is soft, smooth and elastic. During the last minute, mix in the candied ginger, apricots, cranberries and dates.

  3. Place the dough in an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature until doubled in size, 45 minutes to an hour. Gently deflate the dough. Divide into 12 portions. Tucking the fruit pieces inside, roll and shape into smooth balls.
  4. Brush a 9x13-inch pan with butter or spray with cooking spray. Arrange the rolls evenly in the pan; there will be about 1/2-inch of space between the rolls. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature for about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  5. Brush egg glaze on top of the buns. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until they are light golden brown. Cool.
Make the cross:
  1. Beat the cream cheese with the maple syrup and vanilla until no lumps remain. (If the cream cheese is not soft enough, try giving it a few seconds in the microwave.) Spoon into a pastry bag fitted with a small (1/4-inch) plain tip and pipe a cross on the top of each bun. (Or drizzle the crosses using a spoon.)
Recipe Notes
  • I use white whole wheat flour--lighter in color and flavor than the whole wheat flour we are most familiar with. White whole wheat flour, ground from white wheat berries includes the bran, germ and endosperm of the wheat grain, the same as regular whole wheat flour ground from hard red wheat berries. If you prefer your rolls less rustic, feel free to substitute unbleached all-purpose flour for all or some of the white whole wheat flour.
  • I use instant dry yeast, which does not need to be dissolved in warm water before mixing the dough. You just stir instant dry yeast into the other dry ingredients and use a warmer liquid. Saf-instant dry yeast and the trademarked RapidRise yeast, as well as bread machine yeast, are all instant dry yeast.
  • Any kind of milk will work in this recipe. I have used whole milk, soy milk, almond milk and rice milk at one time or another.

5 comments

  • They look fantastic and I love that you used white whole wheat flour and maple syrup. I don’t use a lot of flour, but when I do it’s either white whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour. Reply · 30 March, 2015

  • Kozikat

    Our Lenten tradition and now for Easter Sunday is hot cross buns. For years I converted my old B.C. recipe to the fast-rise yeast and white whole wheat flour. I can’t wait to add the ginger but one batch I added orange zest and used a dried fruit mix and yum. I can’t wait to try the cream-cheese cross and ginger this holy week. Thanks for the inspiration. Reply · 30 March, 2015

    • Letty

      Thanks Katie. I remember buying HCB from the Helms truck. Reply · 30 March, 2015

  • This is a great adaptation. Hot Cross buns are often too “white bread” for my taste. This version seems to walk the line nicely. GREG Reply · 31 March, 2015

  • […] last week of Lent, bake traditional Hot Cross Buns. These particular ones sparkle with candied ginger. (You can make the dough on Saturday, and bake […] Reply · 23 March, 2016

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