Easter is just around the corner, and I'm excited to share with you my recipe for soft and fluffy hot cross buns made with ricotta cheese. These Ricotta Cheese Hot Cross Buns are a delightful twist on a classic favorite, and the addition of creamy and rich ricotta cheese takes them to a whole new level. Using a combination of bread flour, full-fat ricotta cheese, yeast, brown sugar, orange marmalade, and spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, these buns are sure to bring back fond memories of family traditions and create new ones.
Here's why I love this recipe
- Soft, fluffy, but with the right amount of chew and heartiness.
- Easy to prepare if you have a stand mixer or bread machine
- Higher in protein than other hot cross bun recipes, thanks to the ricotta cheese
- Stays soft for days!
Ingredients Used to Make Ricotta Cheese Hot Cross Buns
**I've linked some of these ingredients to amazon.com to give you an idea of what they are, but you should also be able to find them in your local grocery store (usually, the baking aisle, or the natural & organic food section). They are also affiliate links, which means that I earn a commission as an Amazon Associate if you decide to purchase the items. The price will be the same for you, link or no link 🙂
- Bread Flour - Bread flour is highly recommended for this recipe for the best texture and structure. I used King Arthur Bread Flour. Please read the note in the substitution section below if using other flours.
- Instant Yeast - you can find instant yeast in the baking section near the flours. My favorite is SAF Instant Premium Yeast, which works quickly and consistently produces great results. I recommend using instant yeast over active yeast for this recipe since active yeast (unlike instant yeast) needs to be activated in water, which we don't add until the very end.
- Sugar - I used raw cane sugar, but you can use regular granulated white sugar, or healthier alternatives like coconut, date, or maple sugars. Sugar free substitutes such as monk fruit sweetener or stevia powder can be used in the frosting recipe, but for what goes inside the bread, I would NOT RECOMMEND using sugar-free substitutes since they can cause the bread to not rise properly.
- Salt - Pink Himalayan salt is what I have at home, so it’s what I use, but you can use any kind for this recipe.
- Spices - For this recipe, you'll need a mixture of spices. Namely, cinnamon, ground nutmeg and ground cloves (which can also be replaced with ground allspice). Cloves have a more intense and pungent flavor with a slightly bitter taste, while allspice has a warm, sweet, and spicy flavor with hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
- Orange Marmalade - I used orange marmalade to replace orange zest which is traditionally used in hot cross buns recipes. orange marmalade is a jam-like spread made from the fruit peel and pulp, cooked with sugar and sometimes with added spices. It has a sweeter and more concentrated orange flavor, with added texture from the pieces of fruit peel.
- Ricotta Cheese - the plain (unflavored) kind. I used full fat for the best texture, but you can also use reduced fat ricotta cheese for this recipe.
What does ricotta cheese do to yeast bread?
The addition of ricotta cheese to the dough makes these hot cross buns incredibly moist, soft and fluffy. Ricotta cheese is high in fat, which helps to create a tender crumb and gives the buns a rich and creamy texture. Additionally, the cheese adds a subtle tangy flavor to the dough, which makes any yeast breads taste better!
- I used a KitchenAid Stand Mixer with a dough hook to knead the dough. You're also welcome to use a bread machine, or knead the dough by hand.
Step by Step Guide
How to Make Ricotta Cheese Hot Cross Buns
Mix all the dry ingredients - bread flour, instant yeast, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground cloves (or allspice) in the bowl of the stand mixer.
Add the orange marmalade, ricotta cheese, and egg
Start to knead the dough at a low setting (speed 2), and add the melted butter once the dough comes together. Continue to knead for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until the dough pulls away from the bowl and forms a smooth, stretchy ball.
Toward the very end of the kneading cycle, add the raisins.
Remove the finished dough from the mixer bowl and place it in a lightly greased bowl.
Let rise until doubled, about 60-90 minutes. It's best if the bowl is put in a warm place, for example, inside a microwave oven with a bowl of hot water set next to the bowl.
Punch down the dough then remove from the bowl. Place on a surface greased with oil
After the dough has risen, punch it down and divide it into 12 equal pieces.
Shape each piece into a ball and place them in a baking sheet pan lined with parchment, about ½ inch apart
In a small bowl, mix the flour and water to create a smooth paste.
Put the mixture into a piping bag or a plastic bag with a small corner cut off. Bake the buns for 20-25 minutes or until they are golden brown.
In a small microwave safe bowl, heat the orange marmalade until it becomes a glaze, about 30 seconds. Brush the glaze over the buns while they are still warm and serve.
Recipe Variations and Optional Add Ins:
I made this bread recipe as basic as possible so that people can customize it to fit their own tastes. Here are some awesome ways you can make this bread your own 🙂
- Add more flavor! You can add 1 tsp of vanilla extract to the glaze ingredients to enhance the sweet flavor.
- Add more texture! Adding chopped nuts, seeds, or dried fruits or oats is a fantastic way to increase the nutrition and flavor of breads. If you're feeling indulgent, you can also add chocolate chips.
How to Make these Ricotta Cheese Hot Cross Buns Healthier
- Make these Ricotta Hot Cross Buns even healthier by adding a handful of nuts, seeds and old-fashioned oats to add texture and nutrition. Here are some ideas
- Nuts - chopped walnuts, pecans, cashews
- Seeds - poppy seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flaxseeds or chiaseeds
- Dried Fruit - chopped apricot, raisins, cranberries, dried cherries, candied ginger, citrus zests, etc.
- Want to add more fiber? Substitute white whole wheat flour for up to half of the bread flour called for in this recipe. You'll need to add a few more tablespoons of water to adjust the hydration since whole wheat flour absorbs more water than white flour.
Note on Substitutions
- Unfortunately, gluten-free flours cannot be substituted for bread flour in this recipe.
- If you don't have bread flour, you can also use All Purpose Flour instead. AP flour has less protein than bread flour, so they will yield softer rolls with less chew/ bite.
How to Store Ricotta Cheese Hot Cross Buns
- You can store these Ricotta Hot Cross Buns in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3-4 days.
- For longer storage, you can place them in a plastic freezer bag or airtight container and keep in the fridge for up to 7 days, or freeze up to 3 months. To reheat, cover with foil and warm them up in the oven or air fryer
- Weigh your flour for the best results. 1 cup of bread flour = 120 grams / 4.23 oz. This is recommended since scooping the flour directly from the bag can pack the flour into the measuring cup, and this means you'll end up with more flour than what's called for in the recipe. If you don't have a kitchen scale, you can measure the flour by spooning pre-sifted flour into the measuring cup, then using the straight end of the spoon to level the flour across the top to sweep off the excess.
- Baking time (as well as serving size) will vary based on the size of your baking pan, the material (silicone vs metal) of the pan. If you're not sure whether the bread is ready, you can insert a quick read thermometer into the bread - a finished bread will register 190 F (or 88 C).
- To make this recipe in the bread machine: add all the dry ingredients into the machine, stir briefly before adding the wet ingredients. The machine can be set for basic. Check the dough for consistency and adjust by adding additional water (or flour) before the end of the first kneading cycle. If you want to add additional nuts or dried fruits, leave them aside, and only them 3 minutes before the end of the second kneading cycle.
Ricotta Hot Cross Buns
Hot Cross Topping Ingredients
- ½ cup all purpose flour 60g
- 5 Tbsp water
- ⅓ cup orange marmalade
- In a microwave safe bowl, microwave ricotta cheese until warm, about 30-45 seconds.
- Mix all the dry ingredients - bread flour, instant yeast, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground cloves (or allspice) in the bowl of the stand mixer.
- Add the orange marmalade, ricotta cheese, and egg
- Start to knead the dough at a low setting (speed 2), and add the melted butter once the dough comes together.
- Continue to knead for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until the dough pulls away from the bowl and forms a smooth, stretchy ball. Add the raisins twoards the very end.
- Remove the finished dough from the mixer bowl and place in a lightly greased bowl.
- Let rise until doubled, about 60-90 minutes***
- Punch down the dough then remove from bowl. Place on a generously floured surface
- After the dough has risen, punch it down and divide it into 12 equal pieces.
- Shape each piece into a ball and place them in a baking sheet pan lined with parchment, about ½ inch apart
- Cover the pan with a towel or plastic wrap and let the rolls rise again in a warm place for about 30 minutes. Toward the end of the rise time, preheat the oven to 350F / 180C
- In a small bowl, mix the flour and water to create a smooth paste. Put the mixture into a piping bag or a plastic bag with a small corner cut off.
- Pipe the hot cross topping onto the rolls by making a cross on top of each bun.
- Bake the buns for 20-25 minutes or until they are golden brown.
- Remove the buns from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes.
- In a small microwave safe bowl, heat the orange marmalade until it becomes a glaze, about 30 secondsBrush the glaze over the buns while they are still warm and serve.