So what makes a batch of hot cross buns extra special and are they difficult to bake? The simple answer, we feel, is loads of added flavour and a little care. But no, not a lot of skill is required to bake a batch of these perfectly glazed gourmet Easter treats.

As Essentials’ home base is situated close to the wine growing region of Rutherglen in North East Victoria, Australia, we’re particularly passionate about cooking with the region’s world renowned muscat fortified wines. Offering rich and complex layers of spicy fruit notes, Rutherglen muscats can enhance any spicy-fruit pudding, cake or bun recipe with extraordinary results.

Adding additional flavour punch we’ve added some freshly picked black currants. In the hand these wildly aromatic little gems offer a fragrance that combines fresh green sap notes with warmer rich berry tones. Combining these with some dried mixed fruit, lemon zest and juice and soaking overnight makes for an additional hot cross bun recipe ingredient that’s a next level delicious.

Muscat Fruit-soaked Hot Cross Buns

50g black currants (fresh or frozen)
150g mixed dried fruit (sultanas, raisins, currents and orange peel)
50ml Muscat wine
30ml lemon juice
30g zest of lemon, finely diced
200ml milk
3tsp dried yeast
500g plain flour
2½ tsp ground cinnamon
1½ tsp ground nutmeg
¾ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground cloves
60g brown sugar
1 egg
60g softened unsalted butter, plus additional for greasing
Finely grated zest of ½ orange
1 tsp sunflower oil


150g caster sugar
Juice of 1 orange
1 tsp vanilla paste or vanilla extract


1. Combine currants and mixed dried fruit, lemon juice, lemon zest and muscat wine in a small bowl, stir through and soak overnight at room temperature.

2. In a saucepan over low heat, warm half of the milk until lukewarm (not hot!), then transfer to a bowl, add dry yeast and stir to combine.

3. Place 450g flour, spices (ground cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves – reserving a quarter of the spice mix for use later), sugar, egg, yeast mixture, remaining milk and 3 pinches of salt in a KitchenAID mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix on low speed until combined, approximately five minutes. Or combine by hand in a large bowl.

4. Add butter, orange zest and oil to the sough and mix until well combined.

5. Drain the muscat-soaked fruit, reserving the liquid. Stir the muscat-soaked fruit through dough just until well incorporated.

6. Transfer the dough to a new (larger) bowl lightly greased with butter. Cover and set aside in a warm place to prove until the dough has doubled in size (approximately 2 hours).

7. Remove the dough and divide into 12 pieces. Roll each piece by hand using a circular motion to make smooth balls, dusting with a very small amount if flour if needed to prevent dough from sticking to your work surface.

8. Place buns on a lined baking tray in even rows, leaving a 2cm gap between each. Set aside to further prove until doubled in size (30-40 minutes).

9. Preheat oven to 180C

10. Combine the remaining flour and reserved spice mixture in a small bowl with 60ml water and mix to a smooth paste. Transfer the paste to a piping bag and using a small round tip, pipe crosses over the buns to decorate.

Bake until golden and cooked through, approximately 25-30 minutes.

Muscat Fruit-soaked Hot Cross Buns

Glaze & Serve

To glaze the buns, combine sugar, orange juice, vanilla paste and 2 tbsp of reserved muscat fruit liquid in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves and a syrup forms. This should take 2-3 minutes. Look for a consistency that’s easy to paint over the buns. While buns are hot, brush a generous amount of syrup over, making sure to completely cover the tops of the buns. Set aside to cool slightly. Serve warm with softened butter.

Essentials COVID-19 Supportive Coverage

Given the current COVID-19 crisis, it’s rapidly becoming apparent that money saving recipes are going to help us all over the coming months. In the last few days we’ve put together a collection of recipes at to help many get a head start on feeding families extremely well, for less money.

Over the coming weeks and months, Essentials aims to continue with clever food strategies, supportive ideas to share, and additionally we’ve now opened up our website and iOS app Essentials Magazine Australia allowing FREE subscription. To install the iOS app, visit the App Store today!

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