I definitely am rather heavy handed with the citrus that I add to the bun. Picture: Supplied
I definitely am rather heavy handed with the citrus that I add to the bun. Picture: Supplied

RECIPE: Make Joani Mitchell’s Hot Cross Buns

By Buhle Mbonambi Time of article published Apr 9, 2020

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Sure, you can always buy some at the grocery store, but with the lockdown, isn’t it better to make them yourself? After all, Easter is all about family and there’s no better bonding session than cooking together.

We spoke to private chef and 'MasterChef SA’s Joani Mitchell, on just why hot cross buns are so popular and she said it’s simply because they are comforting and remind us of family. 

“There is such a comfort to eating a great spiced bread that has notes of cinnamon and nutmeg, paired with the sweetness of the raisins and the undertones of citrus to cut the stickiness of the apricot exterior. It just reminds me of family.  It’s a healthier version of a cake, with less sugar, or bread and it’s so easy for moms to give to kids (of all ages) as it literally has a grab-and-go attitude. It’s even better served warm, with a good dollop of real butter. What’s not to like all year round??” 

A Christian, she would partake in Lent, the 40 day fast Christians undertake before Good Friday and some of her favourite memories involved ending the fast.  

“When Good Friday came around we would go to my VoVo’s ( granny’s) house and she would make the most delicious hot cross buns which you could smell a block down the road for all the beautiful spices she infused into these little treats.  She served these hot with farm butter melting inside and then she would tell us how the cross on the bun symbolised Jesus’ cross and that these treats were our reward for giving up what we loved over Lent. Hot cross buns really bring back such lovely memories of my childhood.” 
As much as we all love tradition, there’s also something great about breaking the rules and doing your own spin on the popular pastry. 

“I have tried a few variations with hot cross buns, like adding choc chips and nuts, but I prefer the traditional classic flavour. However I definitely am rather heavy handed with the  citrus that I add to the bun, so play around with what works for you and your family best.” 

VoVo’s Hot cross buns


·         250ml milk

·         50 g butter

·         ½ tsp nutmeg

·         450g flour

·         1 tsp cinnamon

·         ½ tsp all spice

·         Pinch of salt

·         60 g castor sugar

·         8 g dry yeast

·         1 extra large egg

·         100g raisins/cranberries

·         3 tsp candid peel

·         1 tsp grated ginger

·         Zest of 1 orange

·         Apricot jam/honey for glaze


1.      Place milk, butter and nutmeg in a pot and bring it to a gentle simmer

2.      Combine all the dry ingredients ( not the fruit) in a bowl and create a well in the centre. Add egg and start incorporating the dry ingredients

3.      Add the milk into the dry ingredients and mix

4.      Place the dough onto a floured surface and knead for approx 10min

5.      Place in a greased dish and cover with clingwrap. Allow to proof for about 2 hrs in a warm place

6.      Knock down and create a flat surface out of the dough

7.      Place all the fruit onto the flat area of the dough and fold it onto itself

8.      Knead for about 5 min to combine the fruit.

9.      Cut it into 12 equal portions and create balls out of the dough

10.  Place on a waxed tray and allow to rise for a second time, approx 20 min

11.  Create a slurry out of flour and water and put it into a piping bag

12.  Make a cross over each bun

13.  Bake on 190C for 20 min

14.  Remove from the oven and glaze with jam/honey and grate a little orange peel over them

15.  Eat warm with butter and a pot of coffee!!!

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