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Chai Hot Cross Buns {a step by step tutorial with .gifs}

March 29, 2015 | 16 comments

For some reason or another, every time somebody mentions hot cross buns, I think of the song we had to memorize in third grade. I believe it was part of a new music teaching system to get us to learn how to play an instrument well instead of staring off cluelessly into space. So, everyone had to learn how to play the recorder. The way they did it was with books and little strips of cloth modeled after the martial arts system. The highest one was, of course, a black belt, and the song that you had to be able to play was called “hot cross buns.”


I didn’t realize until this year that “hot cross buns” was the name of a roll commonly eaten during Good Friday.

A few days ago, titles involving ‘easter’ started appearing. It totally took me by shock since Easter is usually in April, but there’s still snow falling outside my window. It descends as easily as it does in January, yet it’s the end of March.


So, I guess it’s absolutely understandable I want something warm and toasty to eat as a snack after I arrive at home from school. These have been my rolls of choice so far… They’re so soft and tender, yet wonderfully filling and pleasant because of all the spices! (Plus I get to say that I baked something seasonal/themed)!


Oh and chai? Chai is an Indian tea like beverage that is also spiced and warm! It pairs real nicely with these buns, plus it makes them awesome (not to say that these buns aren’t without it!).


Tea with your breakfast? Nah, there’s tea already in it! (Although, there’s no reason not to drink more tea with it).


-If you don’t want to make chai/you don’t have the spices, you can just omit the first step and sub the same amount of water (that is, 1/2 cup).
-Pumpkin pie spice? Yes, of course! It doesn’t make the buns taste like pumpkin if that’s what you’re wondering. I used it because it is so much easier than buying 5 different spices and then only using a little bit. Of course, you can always make your own by searching up a pumpkin pie spice recipe.

Chai Hot Cross Buns {a step by step tutorial with .gifs}


For the dough

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tbsp dried tea leaves
  • 2 pods crushed cardamon pounded until split open
  • 1 star anise
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pumpkin spice mix
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 1 2/3 cup flour

For the "cross"

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup water

To finish

  • milk
  • golden syrup / apricot jam


  1. In a saucepan, combine the water, tea leaves, cardamon, star anise, and the 1/4 tsp of cinnamon. Boil for 5 minutes. Strain.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add in 1/2 cup of the tea mixture with the milk. The mixture should be warm to the touch. If it isn't, heat it up in the microwave or let it cool until it's warm to the touch.
  3. Sprinkle on the yeast and mix in the flour. Let it rise for 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile in a separate bowl, combine the rest of the tea mixture and the raisins. When the dough is done rising, drain the raisins.
  5. To the risen dough, add the rest of the dough ingredients (including the soaked raisins). Knead for 5-10 minutes, or until a smooth dough is formed. It should be slightly tacky but firm.
  6. Let rise for 1 hour.
  7. Punch the dough down and divide into 12 pieces. Roll each one into a roll shape.
  8. Score a cross on each one with a knife.
  9. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Cover the scored rolls and let rise for 30 minutes.
  10. Combine the cross ingredients and spoon into a plastic bag.
  11. Brush the risen rolls with milk.
  12. Cut off the corner and pipe the paste onto the risen rolls.
  13. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden.
  14. Brush on warmed syrup or jam.


read or add your own

    • Anne on

      April 5, 2015 at 3:42 pm says

      It really creates a nice flavor! Thanks!

  1. Tandy | Lavender and Lime on

    March 30, 2015 at 1:32 am says

    I have been baking a lot with chai tea recently, so I know that these amazing looking buns will taste fantastic!

    • Anne on

      April 5, 2015 at 3:42 pm says

      Yes, they do!

  2. Eva on

    March 30, 2015 at 2:14 am says

    Well done Anne ! Hier j’ai fait des Hot Cross Buns pour le gouter ! Mais les tiennes ils sont beaucoup plus beaux que le miennes ! J’ai raté un peu l’étape de la croix ! Il faudra que je recommence ! Ta recette est très bien !

    • Anne on

      April 5, 2015 at 3:46 pm says

      Je ne le pense pas ! J’ai déjà vu tes buns sur ton blog et ils sont magnifique ! ;D

  3. Jessica | A Happy Food Dance on

    March 30, 2015 at 9:51 am says

    These are beautiful – chai is my drink of choice so I totally love the twist! And I remember learning hot cross buns on the recorder too! I had no idea it had to deal with Easter either 🙂

    • Anne on

      April 5, 2015 at 3:46 pm says

      I know right? Thanks Jessica!

  4. Dawn @ Words Of Deliciousness on

    March 30, 2015 at 7:10 pm says

    Your buns look amazing. Can you believe I have never had chai tea before. It really is on my list to try. I also love your photos, beautiful!

    • Anne on

      April 5, 2015 at 8:28 pm says

      Thank you!I really can because I just tried it for the first time a few weeks ago!

  5. Brittaney @ Sips and Snacks on

    March 30, 2015 at 7:46 pm says

    Oh wow! These look amazing! I love chai flavors. They’re just the perfect amount of warmth!

    • Anne on

      April 5, 2015 at 3:47 pm says

      Thanks! 😀

  6. Caroline @ Shrinking Single on

    March 31, 2015 at 5:19 am says

    I love hot cross buns. I never seem to get around to making them at Easter but really I should be cooking them when I can’t buy them, right? These look like a great twist with chai.

    • Anne on

      April 5, 2015 at 3:47 pm says

      Of course! I’ve never seen hot cross buns for sale. 😛

  7. Maryanne @ the little epicurean on

    April 7, 2015 at 12:34 pm says

    Yum! The addition of chai sounds warm and inviting. I love your gifs! They make me wanna go in the kitchen and bake something 🙂

    • Anne on

      April 11, 2015 at 5:44 pm says

      Oh yes! I love making gifs (except they take forever for me to make…) so I’m glad you like them! Hahaha I give into that instinct wayyyy too often… 😀



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