Tangzhong Hot Cross Buns

Light, fruity and spicy, these tangzhong hot cross buns are a pleasure to eat. Split them, toast them and butter them and enjoy them for breakfast, elevenses or an Easter tea.

I’m obliged to my friend and baking guru Steph Clubb for the tangzhong source recipe which I’ve adapted here. If you haven’t come across it before, tangzhong is a Japanese bread making technique which employs a type of roux to give a soft, fluffy bread. It’s a keeper in every sense.

I have to admit I’ve never put its keeping qualities to the test as it doesn’t last long in our house. I’ve combined the method here with my traditional hot cross bun recipe, to good effect, I think.

The tangzhong hot cross bun recipe is one I’ll be making with students at my World Breads class this Easter. I don’t usually share the cookery school recipes on the blog, as I think it’s a bit unfair to paying guests, but this one’s too good to keep in-house. I’ve left them untoasted in the photo so you can see the texture clearly.

Tangzhong Hot Cross Buns

Image of tangzhong hot cross buns

Ingredients for the tangzhong: 

25g strong white bread flour 

100g milk

For the dough: 

350g strong white bread flour 

7g fast action yeast 

1 tsp salt 

40g soft light brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp mixed spice

125g full fat milk, scalded and cooled 

1 egg 

50g softened butter 

130g currants, soaked first in hot water and well drained

50g mixed peel


1 egg, beaten with a splash of milk, for 1st glaze

3 tbsp plain flour mixed to a thick paste with water, for the crosses

2 tbsp milk + 2 tbsp caster sugar, for 2nd glaze


Make the tangzhong: place the flour in a small saucepan and gradually mix in the milk. Over a medium heat, cook the paste, whisking constantly until it has thickened. 

Remove from the heat, scrape the paste into a bowl, cover it loosely with clingfilm and set aside to cool. 

Place the flour and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Stir, then add the salt, sugar and spice. Pour the milk into the flour along with the egg, butter and tangzhong and mix on a low speed until it comes together into a dough. Increase to a medium speed for 8-10 minutes. 

Add the dried fruit and peel and fold through until evenly incorporated. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise until doubled in size. This could take +/- 2 hours, depending on the heat of your kitchen.

Divide the risen dough into 12 equal pieces and shape each piece into a ball. Spread the balls out, spaced 2-3 cm apart (they’ll grow into each other as they re-prove and bake), on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover loosely with oiled cling film. Leave to rise for a further 1 hour.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200C/180 fan/400F/Gas Mark 6. Brush the risen buns with the beaten egg. Mix the plain flour with enough water to make a thick paste and using a piping bag paint a cross on top of each one.  Bake for about +\- 15 minutes. 

Bring the milk for the second glaze to a boil and dissolve the sugar in it. Give the buns two successive coatings while they’re still hot. Cool on a rack.

12 thoughts on “Tangzhong Hot Cross Buns

  1. Oh my. This might just be the recipe to tempt me away from making sourdough hot cross buns. A couple of questions, though. How do you think this dough would respond to retarding? Traditionally, I form the buns, leave them in the fridge overnight and bake in time for Good Friday breakfast. Could I do that with tangzhong dough? Or could it be done for the first rise allowing just the second rise in the morning?
    I know the obvious answer is ‘Just eat them later in the day’ but…………tradition!
    Thanks and have fun on the bread course.

    • Hi Sue, I have never tried so I consulted the oracle (Steph) and she says you can – you’d need to treat it like brioche dough, give it its first prove in the fridge o/n, and add the fruit, shape and prove again in the morning before baking. Personally, as part of the attraction of tangzhong doughs is their keeping quality, I’d make them the day before, have an extra cup of tea in bed and them bung them in the toaster. I’m all for an easy life. Happy Easter to you all! Lx

    • You’re right. If I’m not making sourdough buns anyway, I can take it easy for a year!
      That’s my afternoon sorted. Thanks Linda.
      And thank you Steph. That’s useful guidance for another occasion.
      Happy Easter both

    • Sorry for the late reply, Frank. Thanks for the kind words! I’m sure you could manage it fine but if I could smuggle it past US Customs you know I would … 😀

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