Hot Cross Buns with Raw Cacao, Dates & Wholemeal Spelt Flour

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The other day I made a batch of hot cross buns following the Gourmet Traveller recipe – it was good, however, the recipe contained sugar (not necessary) and allspice, which in my opinion was far too strong. So I set about making my own hot cross buns. In doing so I made the following substitutions:

  • Wholemeal Spelt Flour – instead of white wheat flour
  • Seasalt – instead of sugar
  • Dates – instead of mixed peel & orange zest (personal choice)
  • Water – instead of milk
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) instead of butter
  • Cinnamon & Nutmeg – instead of allspice

I also added a little raw cacao powder for a bit of fun.

Taste-test time was over morning tea with our lovely neighbours. The result was a thumbs up – Yay! So without further adieu – here’s how I made some of the tastiest and healthiest hot cross buns ever!


 Makes 8



  • large mixing bowl
  • small mixing bowl
  • loaf tin
  • Piping bag*

*It’s handy to have a piping bag for the crosses. But you’ll also get by without it – so don’t be deterred if you’re lacking in that department – worst case, you an always go without.



Dry Ingredients
  • 450g (approx 3 cups) wholemeal spelt flour, sifted
  • 7g dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp seasalt
  • 75g (1/2 cup) sultanas
  • 75g (1/2 cup) dried dates, finely chopped
Wet ingredients
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1tbsp EVOO
  • 175 ml tepid water


  • 30g wholemeal spelt flour
  • 1 tsp raw cacao powder
  • 35ml water


  1. Combine the flour, yeast, cacao, cinnamon, nutmeg and seasalt in large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the sultanas and dates and combine with a wooden spoon.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the egg, EVOO and tepid water.
  4. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients.
  5. On a floured surface, need the dough for 5-10 minutes, until soft and elastic.
  6. Place back into the large mixing bowl, cover with glad wrap and a teatowl and allow to rise in a warm place for 40 mins, or until doubled in size.
  7. Knock back dough and cut into 8 equal portions, kneading each into a ball.
  8. Place the dough balls in a loaf tin lined with baking paper, cover with a tea towel and leave to rise, in a warm place for another 40 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile preheat a fan forced oven to 220 degrees Celsius.IMG_0001
  10. For the crosses, combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Mix to form a paste before transferring to a piping bag.
  11. Pipe crosses atop each bun, place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes at 220 degrees Celcius. Reduce the heat to 180  degrees Celsius and bake for a further 5 minutes.
  12. Serve warm or cool on a wire rack before storing.


Serving Suggestions

  • Warm from the oven with butter.


  • Store in your fridge for several days, but place in the oven to warm.
  • Store in your freezer for up to two weeks.
  • If frozen, defrost completely on the bench, before warming in an oven.IMG_0009