Recipe: Taiwanese Influenced Hot Cross Buns

Taiwan has some incredible bakeries, and these days in Taipei you can buy an amazing assortment of internationally influenced breads, including fluffy sandwich white, sour dough, baguettes, rye bread and even Xinjiang bread.  But unfortunately, I have not had any luck in my hunt to buy hot cross buns.  This is probably a good thing, as it has forced me to bake my own. 

Many baking supplies are hard to find here outside of commercial baking supply shops, but most Western supermarkets will carry a limited range of dried fruit.  I managed to buy some giant sultanas (imported from Chile) and cranberries (imported from Canada) during a pre-Christmas grocery shop which I didn’t to use up in this recipe.  The original hot cross bun recipe calls for mixed peel:  I was unable to find any so I substituted local passion fruit flavoured dried mango.  I also substituted Taiwanese ‘black’ sugar, which is famous for its rich taste (and colour) and masked the absence of allspice. 

Happy Easter and happy baking!


340 ml lukewarm water
2 tablespoons soy bean oil
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons Taiwanese black sugar
600g/4 cups high gluten flour (you can use bread flour or all purpose flour)
3 tablespoons milk powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 1/4 teaspoons dried yeast
1/3 cup sultanas
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup dried passion fruit mango
2 tablespoons water
40g/1/4 cup plain flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons hot water


  1. Combine the 340ml water, oil, salt, sugar, flour, milk powder, cinnamon and yeast in a bread-maker and put on the ‘dough cycle’, adding the chopped dried frieds at the ‘beep’.  (Alternatively, combine the ingredients and knead around 10 minutes.  Put the dough in a bowl, cover with cling wrap and place in warm place to rise for around 45 minutes or until it has doubled in size.  You can either add the dried fruits into the dough at this stage, or mix them in during the next step.) 

    Ingredients in breadmaker

  2. Once the dough has risen, place on a floured benchtop or board.  Divide into 15 to 16 pieces and shape into rounds. 

    The dough

  3. Put the rounds on a greased baking tray.  Cover with cling wrap and leave until it has doubled in size (around 30 to 45 minutes).
  4. Remove the cling wrap.  Combine the remaining flour and water, and mix to form a smooth paste.  Spoon into a piping bag and draw crosses onto the hot cross buns.  (I didn’t have a piping bag, so I used a zip-lock plastic bag and cut the corner off one of the edges.  The crosses do not need to be perfect; the buns will expand in the oven which is very forgiving for odd-shaped crosses.)

    Hot Cross Buns ready to be put in the oven

  5. Bake in a preheated oven at 190 degrees Celsius until golden brown.  Check the bottoms of the hot cross buns by tapping on them:  if they are firm, then the buns are ready.

    Hot Cross Buns, straight out of the oven

  6. Combine the sugar and hot water.  Brush hot buns with the sugar water mixture, which will create a simple glaze effect.  (This is optional, but will really bring out the colours in the buns and make them look more appealing.)
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About taiwanxifu

‘Taiwanxifu’ (pronounced ‘shee foo’) means ‘Taiwan daughter-in-law’ in Chinese and has been my nickname ever since I married my Taiwanese husband, Sam. I love sampling Taiwanese food, even local specialties such as stinky tofu, pigs blood cake and Taipei beef noodle soup with offal. But there are many other options on the menu. Promise!
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