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Gingery Hot Cross Buns in pan
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4.86 from 7 votes

Gingery Whole Wheat Hot Cross Buns

These spice gingery sweet rolls are traditional for spring celebrations. Finish with a cream cheese frosting cross or a cross made with flour paste. Makes 12 buns.
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
rising time2 hours
Total Time2 hours 55 minutes
Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: hot cross buns, sweet rolls
Servings: 12 buns.
Calories: 260kcal



  • 3 ½ to 4 cups white whole wheat flour, 14 to 16 ounces (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, 120 to 125°F (see note)
  • 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (1/2 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

Flour paste cross:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons water

Cream cheese frosting cross:

  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract


Make the dough:

  • In the work bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer or in a large bowl, mix 3 cups (12 ounces) of the white whole wheat flour with the yeast, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and mace.
  • 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. (The dough should be fairly soft. For nice soft buns, resist that urge to add just a bit more flour.)
    During the last minute, mix in the candied ginger, apricots, cranberries and dates.
  • 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.
  • 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. (You can prepare them the day before if that works best for you--see note below.)
  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Brush egg glaze on top of the buns. If you are making crosses with flour paste, pipe the crosses before putting the buns in the oven. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until they are light golden brown. Cool.

For the flour paste cross:

  • Mix the flour and water into a thick paste. Before the risen buns go in the oven, after brushing egg glaze on them , spoon the paste into a pastry bag fitted with a small (1/4-inch) plain tip and pipe a flour cross on the top of each bun.

For the cream cheese frosting cross:

  • 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.)


  • If the timing is better for you, mix, give them the first rise and shape your rolls the day before. Let them rise overnight in the fridge and bake them off in the morning.
  • Lacking white whole wheat, use a 50:50 mix of whole wheat flour and unbleached whole wheat flour. Spelt flour is a good substitute as well.
  • 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, 120°F to 125°F. 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.


Calories: 260kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 40mg | Sodium: 170mg | Potassium: 166mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 300IU | Calcium: 62mg | Iron: 1mg