Hot Cross Buns

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5 from 7 votes
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These homemade hot cross buns are a traditional and simple Easter bread recipe that is perfectly spiced and perfect for the holiday season.

hot cross buns.

Contrary to popular belief, Easter is more than just chocolate eggs and candy.

I grew up like most kids, looking forward to Easter Sunday so we could indulge in chocolate and have a sugar crash by 9 am. Now that I’m older, I actually appreciate another food my family would enjoy during this time- hot cross buns.

What are hot cross buns?

Lightly sweet, perfectly spiced, and studded with dried fruits, hot cross buns have a cross on top made from flour paste which is where these buns get their name from. 

These buns originated in the United Kingdom but are widely eaten on Good Friday, the Friday before Easter. These Easter buns are also popular in other western countries, include the US, Australia, and Canada.  

In my family, Easter preparations always started with making hot cross buns. These buns are one of the few baking recipes that I aim to keep as close as possible to the original, without efforts to make it healthier or diet friendly!

hot crossed buns.

Ingredients needed

Making these Easter buns is an easier task to tackle when you have all ingredients gathered and arranged on your work surface. Here’s everything you need for this recipe. 

Buns:

  • Flour. This recipe uses all-purpose flour. I don’t recommend using a different type of flour for this recipe. 
  • Instant yeast. This type of yeast is easier to use as you don’t have to dissolve it in liquid first. Also, it activates more quickly than active dry yeast. 
  • Sugar. Granulated white sugar. 
  • Milk. Milk adds moisture and flavor to the dough.  
  • Butter. Melted butter further enriches the flavor of the dough. You will need to melt it first to be able to easily mix it with the dry ingredients. 
  • Egg. Eggs help the dough rise, and provide moisture and structure. Bring the egg to room temperature before adding it to the dough. 
  • Raisins. I like to keep it simple and traditional with the fruits and just add raisins to my Easter buns. If you have washed the raisins, make sure to dry them properly before adding them to the dough. 
  • Gingerbread spice mix. Made with cinnamon and ginger, this spice mix makes the buns exceptionally aromatic and warm. 
  • Salt. A pinch of salt added to the dough helps balance all flavors. It also helps form stronger gluten strands in the dough. 

Flour paste:

  • Flour. All-purpose flour. 
  • Water. Room-temperature water to mix with the flour and form a smooth paste. 

Glaze:

  • Sugar. Granulated white sugar.
  • Water. Lukewarm water for easy mixing. 

How to make hot cross buns

Patience is what you need when making Easter buns. Follow these steps and enjoy the process. 

Step 1 – Make the dough

In a large mixing bowl, mix all the dry ingredients, including flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and gingerbread spice. 

hot cross buns dry ingredients.

Add the butter and milk to a saucepan and heat it until the butter melts. Allow the milk to cool and only then add it to the dry mixture. Add the egg and stir until a soft dough forms. 

melted butter and yeast.

Dust your work surface with flour and transfer the dough onto it. Knead the dough for around 10 minutes until it becomes smooth. 

hot cross bun dough.

Step 2 – Wait for the first rise

Place the dough in a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Place the dough somewhere warm and let it rise for 1½ hours. 

proofed dough.

Step 3 – Shape the buns and proof them 

When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and add the raisins. Knead the dough for a minute to evenly distribute the raisins. 

raisins in dough.

Divide the dough into portions and shape them into balls. Arrange the balls in the baking tray lined with parchment paper. Put the buns a little close to each other if you want them to expand and grow into each other once baked. Cover the buns with plastic wrap and let them rise for 30 more minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 190C/375F. 

hot cross buns proofing.

Step 4 – Make the crosses and bake

Prepare the flour paste to make crosses on the buns. Mix flour with water until a smooth paste forms. Add it to a piping bag and pipe out crosses on all buns, then bake them for 20 to 25 minutes. 

how to make hot cross buns.

Step 5 – Glaze the buns and enjoy

For the glaze, whisk sugar and water until the sugar is fully dissolved. Use lukewarm water to dissolve the sugar more easily.  Brush the freshly baked buns with glaze before serving.

glazed hot cross buns.

Tips to make the best recipe

  • Check the expiration date on the yeast before adding it to the dough. We also recommend you don’t use instant yeast that has been opened for too long or hasn’t been stored properly (we learned the hard way when making monkey bread!).
  • You know the dough is kneaded well enough when it’s smooth and doesn’t break when stretched. 
  • Like we do with concha, use scales to measure the weight of the dough for each bun if you are aiming for buns that look as identical as possible. 
  • While eating these buns when they have just come out of the oven is almost irresistible, let them rest for around 20 minutes. As the buns cool, they dry out inside. Hot buns right out of the oven may feel rather doughy inside.

Variations

  • Play with the spices. The spices you can use for cross buns include cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger, coriander, ground cloves, and allspice. 
  • Switch the glaze. While the simple sugar glaze is perfect for these buns, you can add more flavor to the buns by using rum instead of water. You can also use jam instead of sugar. Mix apricot jam with warm water and brush it over the baked buns for some shine and a hint of sweet apricot flavor. 
  • Add citrus zest. Grated orange or lemon zest adds a mild citrus flavor to the sweet buns and pairs nicely with spices and dried fruits. 
  • Use your favorite dried fruit. Dried apricots, cherries, cranberries, blueberries, and currants are great fruit choices for sweet buns. Make sure to chop larger fruits into smaller pieces to be able to distribute them evenly in the dough. 

Storage instructions

To store. Once the buns cool, transfer them into an airtight bag or container and store them in a cool and dry place. There is no need to refrigerate these buns. 

To freeze. To freeze, wrap the buns individually with food wrap. The buns can be frozen for up to 6 months. Defrost them at room temperature before reheating them. 

To reheat. Warm the buns in the oven, toaster oven, or in the microwave. You can also cut the buns in half and toast them.

hot cross bun.

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Frequently asked questions

Why are my hot cross buns so dense?

Not kneading the dough long enough results in dense buns. As you knead the dough, the gluten in it stretches, providing the needed structure and texture for the buns. 

You shouldn’t over-knead the dough either. Kneading the dough for around 10 minutes is enough. 

How do you eat hot cross buns?

Traditionally, these buns are cut in half, toasted, and eaten with butter. You can add more sweet toppings if you like, including syrups and jams. 

Why didn’t my buns rise?

The most common reason why these buns don’t rise is using expired yeast. The buns may also not rise if you have added too much flour or too little liquid to the dough. 

hor cross buns recipe.

Hot Cross Buns

5 from 7 votes
These hot cross buns are soft, fluffy, and perfectly spiced, filled with raisins, and marked with a cross on the top. They are easy to make and are fabulous for Easter.
Servings: 12 buns
Prep: 1 hour
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 1 hour 25 minutes

Ingredients  

Flour paste

Glaze

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

Instructions 

  • Make the dough; combine flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and spice mix in a large bowl.
    hot cross buns dry ingredients.
  • Add butter and milk into a saucepan and heat until the butter is melted. Let the mixture cool down. Add the milk to the flour mixture once it is lukewarm.
    melted butter and yeast.
  • Add beaten egg and stir until the dough comes together.
  • Transfer the dough onto a floured kitchen surface and knead for 10 minutes. The dough will be a bit sticky at the beginning, but as you knead it, it will become smooth.
    hot cross bun dough.
  • Place the dough into a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Let the dough stand for 1 ½ hours at a warm spot or until doubled in size.
    proofed dough.
  • Punch down the dough and knead in raisins.
    raisins in dough.
  • Divide the dough into 12 portions and shape each into a ball. Some of them may not be perfect as the raisins will stick out, but that is okay. 
  • Line a large baking dish with parchment paper. Place the balls in it. Cover the dough with plastic foil and let it rest for 30 minutes.
    hot cross buns proofing.
  • Preheat oven to 190C/375F.
  • Make the flour paste; combine flour and water in a bowl, until you have a paste. fill a piping bag with it and pipe the flour paste over the buns to form crosses. 
    how to make hot cross buns.
  • Bake the buns for 20–25 minutes or until cooked through.
  • Make the glaze; in a bowl, whisk sugar and water.
  • Brush the freshly baked buns with the glaze and allow them to rest prior to serving.
    glazed hot cross buns.

Notes

TO STORE: Once the buns cool, transfer them into an airtight bag or container and store them in a cool and dry place. There is no need to refrigerate these buns. 
TO FREEZE: To freeze, wrap the buns individually with food wrap. The buns can be frozen for up to 6 months. Defrost them at room temperature before reheating them. 
TO REHEAT: Warm the buns in the oven, toaster oven, or in the microwave. You can also cut the buns in half and toast them.

Nutrition

Serving: 1hot cross bunCalories: 175kcalCarbohydrates: 35gProtein: 5gFat: 3gSodium: 96mgPotassium: 138mgFiber: 2gVitamin A: 59IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 36mgIron: 2mgNET CARBS: 33g
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Author: Arman Liew
Tried this recipe?Give us a shout at @thebigmansworld or tag #thebigmansworld!

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website.

Arman Liew

I’m a two time cookbook author, photographer, and writer, and passionate about creating easy and healthier recipes. I believe you don’t need to be experienced in the kitchen to make good food using simple ingredients that most importantly, taste delicious.

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  1. 5 stars
    Thank you for all the wonderful recipes you put out ~ they not only are simple but taste absolutely amazing with few ingredients.
    I just made these rolls today , early for Easter Sunday and once again such a delish taste , I followed the recipe exact .
    I grew up in the 70’s and my mother had them every Easter and ONLY on Easter ~ she passed away almost a year ago to the date and I guess I was feeling Nostalgic and looking for something to bring me back to a ‘ MOM ‘ time & I feel my brother will like this too .
    They are much better than the store bought rolls , not surprised by that . I started with your recipes years ago making the choc tart using coconut milk and I was hooked !
    now I make your recipes several times a week . My husband loved the choc mug cake I made for him the other night too 🫶🏻
    Thank you so much for all the recipes ~ it shows that you love what you do ~ I also love cooking and baking so I really appreciate it .