cherry rye hot cross buns

This is based on 101 cookbooks’ recipe for Black Bread, substituting the carrots and caraway seeds with dried sour cherries. This came about because I’ve been wanting to make hot cross buns, but also wanting to use more rye and whole grains in my bread baking, so this is the culmination of those two goals.

I was drawn to the use of coffee and cocoa for this, but it’s definitely a more adult and sophisticated taste than more sweetened versions of hot cross buns. These are downright healthy. Nothing is too extreme in terms of salt, sugar, or fat, but it’s big on taste. Plus you are getting much more fiber with the whole wheat and rye.

I think the standout ingredient in these are the sour cherries. They are soft, chewy, moist, and tart, with a hint of sweetness to save you from puckering up too much, but you definitely feel where the sour receptors are on your tongue!

I struggled with what to call these, because the coffee and cocoa are also very prominent. Couldn’t quite call them chocolate cherry buns, but wanted to, and that’s what I was initially searched for online.

In the end I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Cherry Rye Hot Cross Buns (based on 101 cookbooks’ recipe for black bread)


2 and 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast

1 cup + 1/4 cup lukewarm (110 degrees F.) water, separated

1 teaspoon granulated sugar or brown sugar

1 and 1/2 cups dark rye flour

2 and 1/2 cups unbleached whole wheat flour

2 Tablespoons cocoa powder, unsweetened

2 Tablespoons fine espresso powder

1/4 cup dark molasses

3 Tablespoons margarine (can also use unsalted butter, but adding 2 teaspoons salt with it)

1 heaping cup, or 5 ounces of dried sour cherries

For crosses:

6 Tablespoons whole wheat flour

5 Tablespoons water (I used fresh brewed coffee, but feel free to use water, your crosses will be lighter and more pronounced.)

olive oil

baking sheets lined with parchment paper

raw agave or honey mixed with a teaspoon of water


First, bloom the yeast by placing a teaspoon of sugar into a bowl and adding the 1 cup water (reserving the 1/4 cup of water for later), stirring it to dissolve, then adding the yeast and gently stirring and then leaving it undisturbed for about 5-10 minutes until bubbly and frothy. If it isn’t bubbly and frothy, start all over with better yeast, or make sure the temperature of the water isn’t too hot.

Add both flours to the bowl of a stand mixer and stir with a whisk to integrate the two flours thoroughly. Attach a dough hook to the stand mixer.

In a small saucepan, add the cocoa powder, espresso powder, molasses, margarine (or butter and salt). Over low heat, stir until just heated enough to be pourable. You want this to be also just lukewarm.

Add the yeast water mixture to the bowl of the stand mixer and start the mixer on low, and add the molasses mixture in a steady stream to the side, making sure it doesn’t land on the dough hook. After adding all of the molasses mixture, stop the mixer and scrape the bottom and sides with a rubber spatula as needed. If dough is still too dry, slowly add some of the 1/4 cup of water, also lukewarm. You may only need a couple of Tablespoons more so don’t add all of it. Dough should come together without being too sticky. If it is wet and  sticky, add a small amount of whole wheat flour, like a tablespoon at a time. Continue to use the stand mixer for a few minutes, on medium, just to develop the dough a little. Dough should start “cleaning” the sides of the bowl and attached to the dough hook.

Remove from mixer and form into a ball. Using some olive oil to grease a large bowl, place the ball of dough into the bowl and turn it over to coat all sides with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let the bowl sit undisturbed and away from drafts, in a warm part of your kitchen. Let double in size, which can take 1-2 hours.

When doubled in size, punch down with a fist in the center of the ball of dough, deflating it. Work the cherries into the dough. Knead a little bit and reshape it into a ball. (It is at this point that you can place it back in the bowl with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge overnight, which is what I did. Just make sure you take it out and let it sit for about 40 minutes to get to room temperature.)

Punch down dough again, and either shape into one giant round loaf, or however you want to shape it. I cut mine into 2.5 ounce portions, shaped them into balls and cut crosses on the tops of them with a small sharp knife, then put the slurry for the crosses in a plastic bag with a small cut at one corner to pipe crosses into the slits, let them sit for about 40-50 minutes to rise a little and baking them off for about 18 minutes at 400 degrees F., brushing them with either agave or honey with water as soon as they came out of the oven.

14 responses to “cherry rye hot cross buns”

  1. Wow Dave, great buns. These are far removed from the Hot X Buns of my childhood but I like the flavour combo and will try a sourdough version

    Liked by 1 person

  2. These are my kind of hot cross buns. To be honest, I find the traditional ones kind of boring. I definitely like the chocolate and coffee addition in your version along with the dried cherries – yum!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Lily! I usually like sweet bread, especially sweet yeast breads, but am trying to be healthier! Have a great week!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

Gravatar Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: