Hot Cross Buns

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The perfect blend of sweet and spice, enjoy these classic Hot Cross Buns this Easter season. Topped with a cross and optional glaze. The best addition this year to your holiday table. Based off of my White Bread Recipe, these rolls are soft, airy and unforgettable.

Hot Cross Buns

What Are Hot Cross Buns?

Hot Cross Buns are a type of spiced sweet bun usually filled with fruit, such as raisins. They are also decorated with a white cross either etched into the dough or placed on top with icing.

Traditionally, Hot Cross Buns are made and eaten on Good Friday as an Easter custom shared around the world. However, they can be enjoyed, any time of the year.

I love bread probably more than the usual person, but heaven help me when it comes to Hot Cross Buns. So so addicting! I’m not sure if its the blend of spices, the lightly sweet and sticky glaze, the orange zest or the combination of all three that really takes these over the top but man are they good.

Want more Buns, hun? Check these recipes out: Chewy Soft Cinnamon RollsSweet Potato Dinner RollsSweet Orange Rolls, and Buttery Monkey Bread.

How to Make Hot Cross Buns

For this Hot Cross Buns recipe, you’re going to need pantry staples and about 18 minutes of active prep time. The rest of this journey is spent proofing and baking; I also have overnight instructions below if you want to break this party up.

Make the Yeast Mixture

In a liquid measuring cup, stir together the warm water, warm milk, yeast, and honey. Set aside to proof, 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, the top should look frothy and bubbly.

Measure out Flour, Sugar + Spices

While yeast is proofing, measure out 3 cups of flour with cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, brown sugar, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a dough hook. Stir to combine.

A close up of hot cross bun dough

Add in Bloomed Yeast Mixture

Pour in the bloomed yeast and stir until it starts to become sticky. As it is stirring, pour in melted butter. Continue to ‘knead’, stirring in another 1-2 cups of flour, bit by bit, until the dough pulls away from the sides and when you touch it its tacky but won’t leave residue on your fingers. (Should take about 6 minutes)

Rise

Place into a well-greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise 1 hour or until doubled in size.

dough rising

Add Raisins + Orange Zest, Form Rolls

Press dough into a large rectangle and fold in raisins and orange zest. Divide dough into 24 even balls (2 oz. each if you wanted to weigh) and place onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Cover gently with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel and rise another 45 minutes to 1 hour or until doubled in size. Remove plastic wrap and brush each roll with milk.

Crosses on Hot Cross Buns

You have two options for crossing your Hot Cross Buns. The first is the one I demonstrate in the photos and that is in the recipe card, a flour paste that you apply BEFORE baking.

Make the Paste for the Crosses (apply before baking)

Whisk flour and water together until a thick, pipeable paste comes together. Think slightly thicker than white school glue consistency. (You may need to add in more flour or water to get the right consistency.) Spoon into a piping bag or Ziploc bag, snip the tip and pipe crosses across all the rolls.

The other option is an icing cross you apply AFTER the buns are baked.

  1. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until the rolls are nice and brown.
  2. You could make a simple icing made from milk, powdered sugar and a splash of vanilla OR use the browned butter icing I made for these scones. Either are great options!

Bake

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until the rolls are nice and brown.

Add Glaze (Optional step)

To glaze rolls, melt apricot jam or orange marmalade in the microwave until its runny and brush over the tops. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

unbaked buns on a baking sheet

Overnight Instructions

What is so perfect about this recipe is that it can be made ahead of time by letting the dough rise overnight! Here’s how to make Hot Cross Buns ahead of time:

Follow the directions all the way through, stopping after the first rise and after you have shaped the dough into 24 even balls. At this point, cover the shaped buns tightly with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to 15 hours. The next day, at least 3 hours before you need them, remove the buns from the fridge. Keep them covered, and let them rise at room temperature for 1-2 hours before baking. Then brush with milk and proceed with the recipe instructions.

This technique allows you to break up the rising times and let the rest of the baking occur the next day. This is perfect if you want these rolls for breakfast or even during Easter lunch.

Hot Cross Buns

Storing Hot Cross Buns

To keep buns fresh, transfer to an airtight container and store in a cool, dry place for up to 3 days. To freeze, place in a freezer safe, airtight container and into the freezer for up to 2 months. Allow to thaw in the fridge overnight.

More Easter Recipes!

Grace your Easter Dinner table with these recipes, along with Hot Cross Buns!

The printable recipe card is below, enjoy and happy baking, friends! 🙂

Hot Cross Buns
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Hot Cross Buns

The perfect blend of sweetness and spices, enjoy these classic Hot Cross Buns this Easter season. Topped with a cross and optionally glaze.
servings 24 rolls
Prep Time 3 hrs
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 3 hrs 20 mins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast 0.5 oz, 2 packages
  • 1 tablespoon honey or granulated sugar
  • 3 cups all purpose flour plus more as needed (1-2 cups)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom or allspice or cloves
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup butter melted and cooled
  • 1 cup raisins or sultanas or currants
  • 1 naval orange zested
  • 1/4 cup milk

For the cross

  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup water see notes below
  • 1/2 cup apricot jam or orange marmalade, optional

Instructions

  • In a liquid measuring cup, stir together the warm water, warm milk, yeast, and honey. Set aside to proof, 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, the top should look frothy and bubbly.
  • While yeast is proofing, measure out 3 cups of flour with cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, brown sugar, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a dough hook. Stir to combine.
    A close up of hot cross bun dough
  • Pour in the bloomed yeast and stir until it starts to become sticky. As it is stirring, pour in melted butter. Continue to 'knead', stirring in another 1-2 cups of flour, bit by bit, until the dough pulls away from the sides and when you touch it its tacky but won't leave residue on your fingers. (Should take about 6 minutes)
  • Place into a well-greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise 1 hour or until doubled in size.
    dough rising
  • Press dough into a large rectangle and fold in raising and orange zest. Divide dough into 24 even balls (2 oz. each if you wanted to weigh) and place onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Cover gently with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel and rise another 45 minutes to 1 hour or until doubled in size. Remove plastic wrap and brush each roll with milk.
    Raisins and orange zest on bun dough
  • For the crosses, whisk flour and water together until a thick, pipeable paste comes together. Think slightly thicker than white school glue consistency. (You may need to add in more flour or water to get the right consistency.) Spoon into a piping bag or Ziploc bag, snip the tip and pipe crosses across all the rolls.
    Unbaked Hot Cross Buns
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until the rolls are nice and brown.
  • To glaze rolls (optional step), melt apricot jam or orange marmalade in the microwave until its runny and brush over the tops. Serve warm or at room temperature.
    Hot Cross Buns

Notes

Overnight Instructions:
Follow the directions all the way through, stopping after the first rise and after you have shaped the dough into 24 even balls. At this point, cover the shaped buns tightly with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to 15 hours. The next day, at least 3 hours before you need them, remove the buns from the fridge. Keep them covered, and let them rise at room temperature for 1-2 hours before baking. Then brush with milk and proceed with the recipe instructions.

Nutrition

Calories: 143kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 6mg | Sodium: 223mg | Potassium: 115mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 90IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Breads
Cuisine: English
Keyword: Hot Cross Buns, Hot Cross Buns Recipe, How to Make Hot Cross Buns

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4 Responses
  1. Kelley McShea

    Hey! I’m in the middle of making them for dinner – if you cook them all the way through by about 2pm do you think you should eat them room temp or heat them up when you eat them? Thanks! So excited we were just reading about this tradition to my kids

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