HOT Hot Cross Buns

Last year (2020), Mr. dB caught wind of a phenomenon in the UK. A certain internationally renowned food and clothing store had released chilli cheese hot cross buns. Immediately furious that they were not brought to HK, I set about trying to create something similar, with satisfying results.

Jump to Recipe

Cut to 2021, the buns miraculously appear on the shelves of said internationally renowned food and clothing store – and were a complete disappointment! So I delved back into last year’s recipe, improved it and present it to you here. To offer a completely different profile to our luxe hot cross buns: here are my jalapeño, Red Leicester, caramelised onion buns of joy!

Note: This dough is adapted from a fabulous, traditionally-flavoured recipe by topwithcinnamon, adjusted in turn from a King Arthur Flour recipe. The bake uses “Tangzhong”; long-story short: this is what makes Asian breads so delightfully fluffy! It may look like a complicated step but it is stress-free, I promise.

Tips and Tricks

  • A note on the chilli level: while I call them HOT hot cross buns, my limitations when it comes to chilli are pretty weak and so feel free to manipulate the levels of heat however you like it!
  • The caramelised onions are well worth the effort but if you don’t want to dirty another pan, you can skip them and just stick to the chilli cheese.
  • If you don’t have wholemeal bread flour, you can use a blend of 60% white strong/bread flour and 40% wholemeal or spelt flour.
  • I use dried active yeast just because this is what I first learned to work with when making bread. Instant yeast is completely fine to use here; simply skip adding it into the milk and add it directly into the dry ingredients in “part 2”.

HOT Hot Cross Buns

Spicy, cheesy, bready; what's not to love? The hot cross bun for those who are looking for more than the traditional flavours.
Prep Time3 hrs
Cook Time30 mins
Resting time20 mins
Total Time3 hrs 50 mins
Course: Baking, Bread, Breakfast, Brunch, Dinner, Family Meal, Lunch, Sharing, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: British
Keyword: Bread, Bread Loaf, Cheese, Chilli, Holiday, Hot Cross Bun, Roll, Spicy
Servings: 9 buns


  • 9×9 "cake tin / baking tray or 8×4" loaf tin
  • Medium and large mixing bowls
  • Scales and measuring cups/spoons
  • Small saucepan


Dough Pt. 1 (Tangzhong)

  • 2 tbsp Plain flour Sifted
  • 90 ml Water 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp
  • 50 g Butter
  • 125 ml Milk I like oat milk but any will do
  • 1 Egg Large
  • 2 1/4 tsp Dry active yeast Or 1 sachet (7g) instant yeast* SEE NOTE AT THE END

Dough Pt. 2

  • 220 g Wholemeal bread flour 1 1/2 cups; substitute white bread flour with up to 72g or 40% spelt
  • 120 g Rye flour 1 cup; substitute regular wholemeal
  • 2 tbsp Brown sugar
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 cup Plain flour (up to) For kneading


  • 30 g Red onion, diced
  • 2 tsp Sugar I use brown
  • 1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce Optional
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 50 g Red Leicestershire cheese Or similar
  • 1 tsp Chipotle adobo paste (heaped) Adjust more or less for your preference
  • 1/2 Jalapeño, seeds removed Fresh; or if canned, soak in water to remove any excess brine

Cross Topping (Optional)

  • 2 tbsp Plain flour
  • 1 tbsp Water Up to 2 tbsp to get the right consistency

Glaze (Optional but recommended)

  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tsp Milk


Tangzhong Slurry/Paste/Goop/Stuff

  • Gather your ingredients for the "dough part 1"; having everything to hand makes life easier!
  • Gently warm the milk to lukewarm temperature and set aside into a small bowl to cool. Don’t let it get too warm. Add the dry active yeast and give it a gentle stir to combine.
  • Into a small saucepan, add the water and SIFTED flour. Over a low-medium heat, stirring or whisking constantly, bring the flour and water together into a paste or slurry. If your flour begins to clump, add in a little of your butter until you’ve a nice, smooth consistency. Be careful not to take the heat too high – you don’t want to get any colour on the mixture.
  • Pour the slurry/goop into a small bowl and stir in the butter. Making sure the mixture is just lukewarm, stir in the milk/yeast mix and whole egg.

Dough Part 2

  • Combine your Part 2 ingredients (except for the plain flour) into a large mixing bowl.
  • Create a well in the middle and pour in your tangzhong mixture and your chipotle/adobo. Working with a spoon at first, bring everything together into a dough. Knead for approximately 5+ minutes. This dough should be sticky but handle-able. If it is quite dry, add a splash of water to bring back a little moisture. If it is very sticky, slowly work in some of the plain flour until the dough is easier to handle.
  • Cover with cling film or a damp tea towel and set aside somewhere to warm to rise. The dough should double in size, taking between 1-2 hours depending on your weather etc.


  • While the dough rises, dice the onion (approx. 4 1 cm rings of a medium red onion).
  • Into a small frying pan, add 1 tsp brown sugar, a splash (1/4 tsp) Worcestershire sauce and 1/4 cup water. Over medium heat, melt the sugar and add the red onions, cooking slowly to soften. We’re not looking to fully caramelise but end with soft, sweetened onions.
  • Remove from the heat, place onto kitchen roll to take away any excess moisture.
  • Coarsely grate the cheese and set it aside. Slice the jalapeño into a very small dice.

Back to the Dough

  • Once the dough has doubled in size, Grease a 9×9" cake tin or 8×4" loaf tin.
  • Sprinkle the cheese, onions and jalapeño evenly across the surface and, as best as you can, gently pull the edges of the dough back in on itself to fold in the ingredients.
  • Onto a lightly floured surface, turn the dough out and knead back into a ball, approx. 2 minutes.

Divide the Dough

  • Square up your dough ball and cut into equal-sized pieces – 9 if making rolls, 8 if making the loaf.
  • Form each piece into a little round, using your hands to somewhat cup the dough, smoothing out the sides (I don't get too obsessive over this part!) and put each ball into your tin – rows of three if making rolls, or 2×4 if making the loaf.
  • Cover with the Clingfilm or damp tea towel and allow to rise again – approximately 30-45 minutes. During this time, preheat your oven to 180C/360F fan / 200C/390F / Gas Mark 6.

Glaze and Crosses

  • The egg wash is optional however if you've gone this far, you might as well get that beautiful sheen going too! Mix up 1 egg with roughly 1 tsp of milk and, using a pastry brush, gently paint over the tops of the dough balls.
  • For the crosses, mix up 2 tbsp of plain flour and up to 2 tbsp of water into a thick, smooth paint-like texture – it should be squeezable! Using either a piping bag or a sandwich bag, add the paste and squash it all down towards the end / one corner. Nip off a little 2mm and paint the crosses across the buns (I find this intensely satisfying for some reason….)
  • Bake for 30 minutes; if the tops are a beautiful, golden brown, take your buns or loaf out and set the tin onto a wire rack for at least 20 minutes (AKA the countdown of torture). If they're not quite ready, pop them back in for another 5-10 minutes.
  • Because this recipe uses the tangzhong method, because of some science, these buns/loaf will have a good shelf life – but good luck getting them to last long enough to worry about that!


If using instant yeast, you can incorporate it directly into the “dough part 2”.

We would love to hear what you think of our dish.

Please leave a comment below, or if you’ve given this or another dish a whirl, please tag us on FacebookInstagram or Pinterest so we can see your hard work!

Copyright © 2021 The dB Kitchen Ltd. All rights reserved.

Author: thedbkitchen

Niche-free recipes, created out of a pure love of food, by home cook Carmel de Bedin (that’s me!). Genuine, accessible dishes tried and taste-tested by a couple of food nerds who truly love a good meal.

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