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Roasted Apple, Crystallised Ginger, and Sultana Hot Cross Buns with Salted Caramel Crosses

  • Author: Erin Clarkson
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 90 minutes, plus rising time
  • Yield: 20 buns 1x


Soft hot cross buns are filled with roasted apple and sultana, and are finished with a salted caramel custard cross - a perfect Easter treat.



Roasted Apples

  • 750g apple, peeled and diced into small chunks
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Hot Cross Bun Dough

  • 340g whole milk, lukewarm
  • 120g brown sugar, divided
  • 3 tsp active dry yeast
  • 590g all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 115g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Roasted apples from above
  • 80g sultanas, golden raisins or regular raisins, soaked in boiling water for 20 minutes and drained
  • 75g crystallised ginger, finely chopped

Salted Caramel Custard Cross

  • 175g whole milk
  • 120g heavy cream
  • 120g Sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 25g cornstarch
  • 36g Sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 20g unsalted butter, at room temperature

Sugar Syrup

  • 60g water
  • 50g Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste (optional)
  • tiny pinch of salt



  1. Preheat the oven to 400°f / 200°C. Toss the apples, sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl and spread over a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the apples are just tender and seem to have dried out a little (remember they will get baked again so we don’t want them too soft here, just to dry out a bit). Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.


  1. Place the lukewarm milk, 15g of the sugar, and the yeast in a medium sized bowl, and stir to combine. Leave for 10-15 minutes, or until foamy.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, place the remaining 105g sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves.
  3. Add the milk mixture and vanilla bean paste to the dry ingredients, and mix on low for 2-3 minutes. Increase the speed of the mixer to medium, and mix for a further 5 minutes. Add the butter a little at a time, waiting until it is incorporated until adding the next piece. Mix for a further 7-10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and soft.
  4. Turn out the dough onto a work surface (I do not find that there is a need to flour, but add some if needed), and knead in the fruit by hand (see notes). It will take longer than you expect but the fruit will eventually incorporate into the dough.
  5. Shape the dough into a ball, and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or place in the fridge overnight. While the dough is proofing, make the pastry cream.


  1. Place the whole milk and cream in a small saucepan, and place over low heat. You do not want to boil the mixture - you just want to warm it so that when it hits the hot caramel, it does not seize.
  2. Place the first measure of sugar into a medium heavy bottomed saucepan, and place over medium to low heat. Heat, stirring constantly. The sugar will start to form clumps, then begin to melt.
  3. Cook until is it amber in colour, then remove from the heat and add the warmed milk and cream mixture, whisking briskly to help it incorporate (it will take a lot of whisking to emulsify in). Set aside briefly while you prepare the egg mixture to make the pastry cream.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the salt, the second measure of sugar and the corn starch, then add the egg, egg yolks and vanilla, and mix well to combine.
  5. Whisking constantly, add half of the caramel mixture into the egg and cornflour mixture to temper the egg yolks. Whisk briskly for 30 seconds. Transfer the caramel-yolk mixture back to the pot, and return to a medium heat. Whisk constantly until very thick.
  6. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, mixing well until totally combined. Allow to stand for 5 minutes, whisking occasionally. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a round tip - place a clip above the tip and seal the bag with another clip. Place in the fridge to cool.


  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, and weigh the dough. Divide the weight of the dough by 20, and divide the dough into 20 equal sized pieces.
  2. Roll each tightly into a ball, then arrange evenly on the baking sheet, in a 4 by 5 arrangement, leaving a little space between - don’t space them too far apart if you want them to join together in the oven to give the ‘classic’ hot cross bun look.
  3. Lightly cover the pan with plastic wrap, and leave in a warm place for about 45 minutes, or until puffy and the dough springs back when lightly pressed with a finger.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°f / 180°c. Using a sharp paring knife or razor blade, score crosses in the buns.
  5. Bake the buns for 25 minutes, then remove from the oven and pipe the pastry cream in crosses in the holes provided by the scoring.
  6. Return the buns to the oven and bake for a further 10 to 15 minutes, or until the buns are lightly golden brown, or until they register 200°f / 90°c on an instant read thermometer. While the buns are baking, prepare the sugar syrup.
  7. Remove from the oven and leave to cool, before brushing on the sugar syrup (recipe below).


  1. Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Boil for 1-2 minutes, then leave to stand until ready to use.

Store leftover buns in an airtight container at room temperature. Reheat in the microwave briefly before eating. Serve with butter.

Keywords: Hot Cross Buns, Salted caramel, roasted apple, pastry cream, salted caramel pastry cream