How to Make Healthier Hot Cross Buns

How to Make Healthier Hot Cross Buns

Stuffing your face with fresh, sticky hot cross buns on Good Friday is almost as exhilarating as opening presents on Christmas morning. Problem, though: Just one bun can clock in at roughly 280 calories with 28 grams of sugar, which is actually more than an entire milk chocolate bar. So, we decided to give it a healthy makeover.

Soft, tender and lightly-spiced, these healthier buns are brushed with marmalade and packed with citrus peel and purple sweet potato. (Did even you know that Trinbago has many different varieties of sweet potato?) Purple sweet potatoes have less of that distinct sweet, nutty flavor and more floral notes—almost like a sweet rose. The plant pigments that give this sweet potato its purple colour are called ‘anthocyanins’ and have antioxidant properties that are associated with a reduced risk of disease development.

And since citrus is in season, we’re rolling with that, too! Studies actually found that a high intake of citrus fruits can decrease the risk of developing certain types of cancers, including pancreatic and stomach cancers.

The combination of both sweet potato and whole-wheat flour boosts your gut-health by ensuring that each bun will give you 7 grams of fibre. Plus, there’s hardly any refined sugars unlike most store-bought buns.

Citrus-Scented Purple Sweet Potato Hot Cross Buns

YIELDS: 12 buns

PREP TIME: 2 ½ hours
COOK TIME: 45 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 4 hours


  • For the Buns:
    • 10 ounces purple sweet potato (yellow or white)
    • 5 tablespoons butter
    • 1 cup warm water (100°F)
    • 3 tablespoons honey
    • 1 package dry yeast (15 grams)
    • 1 egg yolk
    • 1 ½ to 2 cups all purpose flour, sifted (plus an additional 5 tablespoons for the cross)
    • 1 ½ cups whole-wheat flour, sifted
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
    • ¼ teaspoon cardamom
    • zest of 1 orange
    • ½ cup mixed peel (optional)
  • For the Glaze:
    • 3 tablespoons king orange marmalade or jam of choice


  1. Peel sweet potato and cut into small cubes. Steam for 10 minutes until tender.
  2. Melt butter and add to sweet potato. Mash with a fork until it becomes a
    smooth paste.
  3. Add the honey to the warm water in a bowl and stir until the honey dissolves.
    Add the yeast and stir to combine. Let this mixture sit for 5 minutes or until
    the yeast becomes foamy.
  4. Transfer the yeast mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook
    attached and add the sweet potato butter mash, orange zest, egg yolk and
    mixed peel (if using). Stir until incorporated.
  5. Add whole-wheat flour, all purpose flour and spices and mix on low speed for
    2 minutes until the mixture becomes a dough. Increase speed to medium and
    knead until elastic, about 10 minutes.
  6. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl and cover. Let the dough rest in a warm spot
    until doubled in volume, in about 1 to 2 hours.
  7. Line a 9 x 13 baking dish with parchment paper. Using a bench scraper,
    transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 pieces. Round
    the dough portions into neat balls by pressing down the edges of the dough as
    you circle the dough around on the workbench.
  8. Space the 12 dough balls evenly in the baking dish, cover lightly with oiled
    plastic wrap or a damp towel and let rise for 30 minutes.
  9. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  10. Mix the remaining 5 tablespoons flour with equal parts water until it becomes
    a thick paste. Spoon mixture into a piping bag with a small nozzle. Pipe a line
    along each row of buns then repeat in other direction to create crosses.
  11. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until golden brown.
  12. Gently heat the orange marmalade to melt. Sieve to remove any citrus peel if
    desired. Brush over the top of warm buns and leave to cool.

Nutrition Facts per 1 bun serving / Calories: 208 / Carbohydrates: 36 grams / Fat: 6 grams / Protein: 4 grams / Dietary Fibre: 7 grams / Sugar: 8 grams / Sodium: 40 mg

Butter: substitute with oil
Egg yolk: replace with 1 teaspoon ground flax seed mixed with 1 tablespoon water

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