Mar 31

Whole Wheat Hot Cross Bun Recipe with Dried Cherries & Lemon

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This healthy whole wheat version of hot cross buns is perfect for Easter breakfast. The tart cherries and lemon glaze add a sweet tang to the tender buns. Thank you to Choose Cherries for helping me to share this recipe with you.
Whole Wheat Hot Cross Bun Recipe with Dried Cherries & Lemon | #Easter #recipe

This year, the Easter bunny is going to be hippity-hopping around a hotel room to hide our boys’ Easter baskets. We’re heading back to Boston to cheer my husband on as he runs the Boston Marathon for the second year in a row. We wish, with every morsel of our beings, that this year’s experience will be significantly different than last year’s marathon. It is a time to come together, a time to celebrate the strength of the running community and a time to remember those who were deeply affected by the events of that day.

For us, it’s also an opportunity to put a positive spin on the Boston experience for our two boys. We want to enjoy the city for all it has to offer, from historic sites to amazing restaurants and friendly people.

And we will also be finding some Easter fun. Maybe an Easter egg hunt in Boston common?

Whole Wheat Hot Cross Bun Recipe with Dried Cherries & Lemon | #Easter #recipe

Ever since I was little, Easter breakfast meant hot cross buns, warm from the oven and dotted with butter. I would lick the sweet glaze from the top and bite through the tender dough into soft, plump currants. My kids and husband now love the experience as much as I do.

Since we won’t be at home for Easter for this year, I decided to whip up a batch of hot cross buns a couple of weeks early, putting my own spin on the classic recipe.

Whole Wheat Hot Cross Bun Recipe with Dried Cherries & Lemon | #Easter #recipe

This version replaces all-purpose flour with whole wheat pastry flour and butter with coconut oil to boost the “healthy” factor.

I set aside the currants this year and kneaded plump dried tart cherries into the dough. They brought the perfect tangy sweetness to the buns, and the larger size made every bite more satisfying. Lemon works perfectly with dried cherries, as I found out when I made this Glazed Lemon & Dried Cherry Quick Bread, so I kicked up the glaze with the tang of lemon juice and zest.

Whole Wheat Hot Cross Bun Recipe with Dried Cherries & Lemon | #Easter #recipe

I mentioned the health benefits of dried cherries in last week’s post, Baked Quinoa Cakes with Tart Cherries & Pistachios, but they are just too good not to mention again.

First of all, tart cherries are a natural source of melatonin (regulated sleep patterns, anyone?) And then come the impressive anti-inflammatory properties. If you suffer from arthritis or gout, tart cherries should be regularly stocked in your pantry, and tart cherry juice and concentrate should be a mainstay in your fridge.

And did I mention cardiovascular benefits related to cherries? That includes loss of belly fat, which is the type of fat most commonly associated with heart disease. That makes me want to eat a handful every single day.

Let’s veer back to the recipe for the moment. If you want to serve these hot cross buns first thing in the morning, the majority of the preparation can be done the day before (follow the instructions in the recipe below). Just be sure to leave a couple of hours of pre-breakfast for the buns to rise and bake.

To learn more about the benefits of eating tart cherries and for more recipe ideas, check out their site, Choose Cherries and follow them on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

Other dried cherries recipes:

Dried Cherries Recipes |
Cookin’ Canuck’s Baked Quinoa Cakes with Tart Cherries & Pistachios
Cookin’ Canuck’s Asparagus with Hazelnuts & Dried Cherries
Kitchen Treaty’s Hazelnut-Pistachio Granola with Dried Cherries & Candied Ginger
Laura’s Sweet Spot’s Cranberry Cherry Chicken Wrap
Oats & Sprouts’ Orzo Salad with Basil, Feta & Dried Cherries

Whole Wheat Hot Cross Bun Recipe with Dried Cherries & Lemon

Prep Time: 4 hours, 45 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 5 hours, 15 minutes

Yield: 12 buns

Serving Size: 1 bun

Calories per serving: 306 cal

Fat per serving: Total Fat 9.4g / Saturated Fat 6.6g

Whole Wheat Hot Cross Bun Recipe with Dried Cherries & Lemon

Calories 306.6 / Total Fat 9.4g / Saturated Fat 6.6g / Cholesterol 62.6mg / Sodium 236.0mg / Total Carbohydrates 49.1g / Fiber 5.8g / Sugars 16.2g / Protein 6.9g / WW (Old Points) 6 / WW (Points+) 9


    The hot cross buns:
  • 3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk, well-shaken
  • 1 (0.75 ounce) package (2 1/4 tsp) dried yeast
  • 3 tbsp agave nectar or honey, divided
  • 6 tbsp coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 cups whole wheat pastry flour + more, if needed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup dried tart cherries
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp water
  • The glaze:
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest


    The hot cross buns:
  1. Pour low-fat buttermilk into a small saucepan. Heat to approximately 110 degrees F. Pour into a large liquid measuring cup. Stir yeast and 1 tablespoon agave nectar into the buttermilk.
  2. Let the mixture sit until foamy bubbles appear on the surface of the buttermilk, about 10 minutes. Whisk in eggs, the cooled melted coconut oil and remaining 2 tablespoons agave nectar.
  3. The next part can be done with a stand-mixer equipped with a dough hook or by hand. In a large bowl, combine whole wheat pastry flour flour, salt, and cinnamon. Whisk to combine.
  4. Add the buttermilk mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon until the ingredients form into a dough. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 8 to 10 minutes, adding flour by 1 tablespoon at a time if dough is sticky, until dough is smooth and elastic. (Alternatively, use a dough hook in a mixer.)
  5. Punch a whole in the center of the dough, and the dried cherries. Knead the dried cherries into the dough until they are evenly dispersed. Place the dough into a bowl coated with cooking spray.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free place until the dough doubles in size, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
  7. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide the dough into 12 pieces. With the palm of your hand, roll each ball to form a ball. Coat a 9- by 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Place the 12 balls of dough into the pan. Wrap tightly with greased plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the rolls double in size and are pressed against each other.
  8. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with the rack in the middle position.
  9. Using a small, sharp knife, cut a 1/4-inch deep X through the top of each bun.
  10. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 large egg and 1 tablespoon water. Brush the tops of the buns with the egg mixture.
  11. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the buns are puffed and golden brown. Sit the pan on a cooling rack and let the buns cool in the pan for 5 minutes.
  12. The glaze:
  13. Whisk together powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla. Using a small spoon, drizzle the glaze over top of the buns in an X, in the grooves on the buns. Serve warm or cool to room temperature.
  14. Make-ahead option:
  15. Make ahead:
  16. Once you place the balls of dough in the baking pan, do not let the dough rise. Instead, store in the refrigerator overnight, up to 16 hours. Before baking, let the buns sit at room temperature until they double in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.


From the kitchen of Cookin' Canuck |

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Choose Cherries . All opinions expressed are my own.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet March 31, 2014 at 9:06 am

Love everything about these! Nothing beats freshly baked buns in the morning! Pinned!


2 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) March 31, 2014 at 1:44 pm

I completely agree, Anna! And these ones are particularly good when warm and dotted with butter and a drizzle of honey or agave.


3 Norma | Allspice and Nutmeg March 31, 2014 at 9:37 am

I love hot cross buns. The addition of tart cherries and lemon makes these special. Pinning.


4 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) March 31, 2014 at 1:44 pm

Thank you, Norma! The tart cherry/lemon combination was such a hit with my family that I may never go back to traditional hot cross buns.


5 Gwen @SimplyHealthyFamily March 31, 2014 at 11:02 am

Oh Wow! This is definitely perfect for Easter breakfast (I’ll have to try it several times before then of course :) I’ll bring these to share at the Easter Hunt this year.


6 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) March 31, 2014 at 1:45 pm

Wonderful, Gwen! I hope you and all of the Easter hunters enjoy them.


7 becky March 31, 2014 at 11:28 pm

I’ve actually never made hot crossed buns before but these sound just perfect for me – love the whole wheat flour and dried cherries. And of course you can’t go wrong with a little lemon :)


8 Carol at Wild Goose Tea April 1, 2014 at 2:40 pm

These hot cross buns are hands ABOVE the everyday ones. I am a dried cherry fan big time. Whereas I find people who don’t like raisins or dried cranberries, so far I have not found one who doesn’t like dried cherries. Good for your husband running the marathon. Plus good luck in trying to find enough places in an hotel room to hide eggs for 2 boys. Laughing here—-


9 ashley - baker by nature April 1, 2014 at 9:53 pm

Freshly baked buns is what life’s all about! And I love the dried cherry/ lemon combo!!!


10 Laura (Tutti Dolci) April 6, 2014 at 5:33 pm

These buns look wonderful, I love the cherries and lemon glaze!


11 Erin @ Texanerin Baking May 9, 2014 at 1:36 pm

Ooh! 100% whole grain! My favorite. :) I’ve never actually had hot cross buns but after seeing these, I definitely need to try them!


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