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Sticky date hot cross buns with butterscotch glaze

Servings: 18 hot cross buns
As far as I’m concerned, sticky date pudding will always be the Holy Grail dessert – especially as the weather turns woolly. Here, the flavours of SDP are knitted together within HCB, with traditional spices (hello, ground coriander!), chunky bits of Medjool date, and a butterscotch sauce glaze. I’ve used Lorraine Elliott’s tanghzhong tip to keep the buns fluffy, combined with the scroll dough recipe from The Joy of Better Cooking, which is absolutely your invitation to take these flavours and roll ‘em into scrolls once Easter’s done, too.



  • 2 tbsp plain all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (250ml) milk

Scroll dough

  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 4 ⅓ cups (650 g) plain flour plus extra for kneading and rolling
  • 1 tbsp dried yeast
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes
  • ¼ cup (50g) loosely packed brown sugar
  • 2 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground all spice
  • ¼ tsp ground clove
  • 100 g butter cut into cubes and softened
  • 18 (approx. 400g) Medjool dates deseeded and roughly chopped

Butterscotch sauce

  • 60 g butter
  • ½ cup (125g) brown sugar
  • ½ cup (75ml) pouring cream
  • Pinch of salt

Flour paste

  • 80 g plain flour
  • 4 tbsp of water


  • Start by making the tangzhong. Add ½ cup (125 ml) water and the flour to a small saucepan. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon over medium heat for 2 minutes; the mixture will start to thicken and become glossy at this point (65°C/150°F). Turn the heat off. Add the milk and whisk well, cooling the temperature down to 45°C (115°F).
  • Next, make the scroll dough, which you can do by hand (gladiator, I salute you!) or using a stand mixer. If you’re going with the second option, place the tangzhong and eggs in the mixer bowl. Using the paddle attachment, mix for a minute or so, until blended. Switch over to the dough hook and add the flour, sugar, yeast, salt, spices. Give them a whirl on low speed for 5 minutes, scraping down the side of the bowl now and then.
  • When the dough has stopped clinging to the bowl, up the speed a little to medium–low and, with the motor running, start adding the butter, a few cubes at a time. Wait for it to assimilate before adding more. Continue to do this for about 10–15 minutes, scraping down the bowl every now and then, if need be, until the dough is lusciously soft and elastic and comes away from the side of the bowl with ease. If it is still sticking, add another tablespoon or two of flour — max! — and keep mixing until incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm spot for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size.
  • If you don’t have a stand mixer, no biggie! Use a wooden spoon and some elbow grease to combine the tangzhong and eggs to a uniform custardy colour. Put the flour, sugar yeast, salt and spices in a large bowl, giving it a mix with your wooden spoon. Make a well in the centre and pour in the egg mixture, stirring until it comes together and is raggy and sticky. Turn out onto a floured bench and start kneading. The mixture will be sticky and a bit hard to handle, but persevere, and keep some flour handy to dust the bench now and then — but not too much, as this is a loose dough.
  • Start adding the butter, one cube at a time, and knead into an elastic dough; this will take about 10 minutes. The process will be messy, but it does work. Once done, add the dough to a clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm spot for 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
  • When your dough is ready pop onto a lightly floured surface and flatten into a rectangle shape. Sprinkle your dates across the dough and then roll up into a log. Now knead to incorporate all the dates through the dough. You may need to tear the dough to mix them through, just keep kneading and persevering for 5 minutes.
  • Line a large baking tray (or 2 smaller ones) with baking paper. Weigh your dough and divide by 18. You rolls should weigh approx. 90gms per bun. Some scales and dough cutter will come in handy here. Weigh out your 18 buns, shape them into rounds and place onto your lined baking tray. Sit them quite close to each other so when they rise and bake, they stick together. Rest until doubled in size again, approx. 30 minutes.
  • Preheat your oven to 180℃ (for fan, drop the heat to 160℃). While resting make your flour paste by combing both ingredients and mixing until smooth. Transfer to a piping bag with a small nozzle (see tips).
  • When the dough is rested, pipe your flour paste across the buns to form the crosses. Bake the buns on the middle rack of the oven for 30–35 minutes, or until they’re golden brown, and a skewer comes out clean of dough.
  • While they are cooking, make your butterscotch sauce. Pop all ingredients in a small saucepan, melt together and let them gently boil for 5 minutes to thicken.
  • Once the hot cross buns are ready, brush with the glaze and let them cool.
  • These buns are best eaten within the first 2–3 days and can be brought back to life my toasting or a little time in the oven to reheat. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.


Medjool dates can be found in the fresh food aisle at the shops. They’re much juicier than the ones you’ll find in the ambient section. If you’ve already got dates in the pantry, these will need to be soaked to soften a little before chopping.
You can make a piping bag by rolling a piece of baking paper on the diagonal to create an upside-down triangle, and releasing the rolled end just enough to make a small ‘nozzle’ for piping. Check a tutorial online if you’re stuck.

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