I’ve hot crossed buns, biscuits and scones but it wasn’t until very recently that I had a sweet and spicy epiphany. Hot cross bun dough is essentially the same as donut dough.

Yup. Mind Blown.

Once that wondrous notion had settled in, it didn’t take me long to whip up a batch of lightly sweetened but richly spiced, enriched dough (which means it has egg and butter in it) and plug in my deep fat fryer to test my theory out. It works beautifully.  I give you, my Hot Cross Donuts.

Hot cross donuts - sweet and spicy enriched dough, deep fried before being giving an orange glaze, filled with a citrus scented custard and topped with an icing cross

I know, I know, deep fat frying is not the most virtuous of cooking methods but it’s Easter – a time of celebration, even if like me and Hungry Hubby, the reason for your celebration is 4 uninterrupted days off work!  

Plus, if you fall into the camp of eaters who love the smell of hot cross buns but you don’t like dried fruit or perhaps, really dislike the poor quality candied peel that supermarkets love shoving into their buns then my donuts are for you.

You see, the fruit burns if you try to deep fry it so I have left it out. You get all the spice and soft pillowy texture of a good hot cross bun but none of the fruit. well, you do get an orange and lemon creme pâtissière filling but there’s no “bits” of fruit so that must be allowed, right?

Hot cross donuts - sweet and spicy enriched dough, deep fried before being giving an orange glaze, filled with a citrus scented custard and topped with an icing cross

You could of course, use this recipe to make your actual hot cross buns with if you want – I’ve tested it out side by side and it works brilliantly. I simply knead in 1 cup of dried mixed fruit after the first prove.

The only thing which you need to know is that dried fruit does two things to dough – one, it retards the action of the yeast due to all that extra sugar, so you’ll need to give up to an extra 2 hours proving time once the fruit is added.

And two, as they are dried, they suck out moisture from the dough which is why it is so important to make sure your dough is soft and sticky after adding the liquid to the flour mix and why you don’t ever get more than a day, possibly two out of HXBs before they stale.

Dare I say this but as a lifelong lover of traditional hot cross buns, I think these hot cross donuts are my new favourite. Even without the fruit (which I personally love) these donuts deliver everything I could want from hot cross anything.


4.86 from 7 votes
Hot cross donuts - sweet and spicy enriched dough, deep fried before being giving an orange glaze, filled with a citrus scented custard and topped with an icing cross
Hot Cross Donuts

Everything you love about hot cross buns but made into a donut. Plus, if you don't love dried fruit then these are the hot crosses you need, as there is none in them!

Servings: 12 people
: 249 kcal
Author: Just Jo
For the dough:
  • 250 g strong white bread flour
  • 4 tbsp soft light brown sugar (muscovado sugar is lovely too)
  • 12 g dried fast action yeast
  • 7 g sea salt
  • 1 tbsp mixed spice (I often use Pumpkin Pie Spice in it's place)
  • 1 orange (zest and juice)
  • 60 g soft butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 50 g whole milk
  • 1-2 litres vegetable oil for deep frying
For the glaze:
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
For the citrus creme patissière:
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 45 g soft light brown sugar (3 tbsp packed)
  • 20 g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp orange extract
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • 150 g double cream (you can use full fat sour cream instead if that's what you have in)
For the crosses:
  • 6 tbsp icing sugar
  • A little orange juice
  1. Mix together the flour, sugar, yeast, salt, spice and the zest of the orange in the bowl of a stand mixer then rub in the butter, like how you do when making pastry or scones. 

  2. Whisk the eggs, milk and 45g (3 tbsp) orange juice together in a jug then with the motor running and the dough hook fitted to the mixer, pour in to the flour mix. Do this slowly and stop when you get a soft and slightly tacky dough. Mix for approximately 10 minutes on a low-medium speed until the dough forms a ball and cleans the sides of the bowl. 

  3. Form the dough into a ball and lightly grease before covering. Leave to prove until at least doubled in size. This could take 2-4 hours at room temp because all that spice and sugar retards the action of the yeasted. 

  4. When proved, divide the dough into 12 even sized balls and roll into balls. It is worth spending a minute to get them as smooth as possible so that they don't unfurl on frying. Rip up some small squares (about 4 inches square) of baking parchment and lightly flour them, sitting a dough ball on each. Place in a large or several smaller tupperware boxes and leave to prove. I do this overnight in the fridge but at room temp this will take about 2 hours.

  5. To cook, pour the oil into a deep fat fryer as per it's instructions and heat to 170˚C. This is much safer than doing it on the hob with a thermometer. When up to temp, pick up a dough ball on it's parchment and flip onto a slotted spoon before lowering into the oil. Cook 2-3 at a time so not to drop the oil temp and cook for about 3 minutes side. Drain on kitchen roll. 

  6. When the whole batch is finished, mix the sugar and orange juice together and bring to the boil in a small saucepan. Once bubbling, take off the heat and use a pastry brush to coat the still warm donuts with glaze.

For the creme patissière:
  1. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a medium bowl then whisk in the flour and citrus extracts. 

  2. Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan and then dribble it very slowly over the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly until it is smooth. Scrape this back into the saucepan and over a medium high heat, again whisking constantly, cook for 1-2 minutes until it suddenly thickens and becomes heavy on the whisk.

  3. I pass my cooked creme pat through a fine meshed sieve to ensure it is super smooth at this point then place in a disposable piping bag and leave to cool. when cold, pop in the fridge - this could be done the day before you need it. 

To finish:
  1. Poke a hole in the side of the donuts with a chopstick and then snip off an opening about 8mm across on the piping bag before inserting into this hole and piping in a generous quantity of filling. Stop as you see it just come out of the sides. 

  2. Mix the icing sugar with just enough orange juice to give the texture of toothpaste - i.e. it doesn't flow unless pressed. Scrape this into another piping bag and snip off an opening 3mm across and pipe crosses on top of each donut. Once set you're finally good to go! Best eaten within 24 hours of making (recipe halves very nicely if you don't think you'll get through the whole batch in one go). 


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