Hot Cross Buns!

hot cross buns

(This is a post that first appeared in 2009 – we hope it is fresh for some and a welcome memory for others!)

“Hot cross buns, hot cross buns, everybody loves hot cross buns!” are the words to the children’s song and it is so true. I made these buns at the request of many of you and my kids devoured them within minutes. They are the buns traditionally served at Easter time. A sweet dough, spiced, studded with dried (sometimes candied) fruit and decorated with a cross made of icing.

As I researched these delicious buns I realized that there are as many ways to make them as there are families who bake them. Some people slash the dough to make the cross, others use a flour and water paste to create the symbol and others use the sweet icing. Tell me how you make your buns, and if you don’t have a family tradition yet, you can start with these!

Hot Cross Buns:

I made the buns using the brioche dough on page 189. I added the following to the bucket and mixed as usual:

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon all-spice

1 cup currants

2 teaspoons orange zest.

(You could also use the Panettone recipe on page 201, adding the above spices.)

Flour paste for making the cross:

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons water

mix together until smooth

Lyle’s Golden Syrup – for brushing over the baked buns

Icing for the top of baked buns:

1/2 cup confectioners sugar

1 tablespoon cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2-3 tablespoons milk or water

mix together until smooth

To make the buns:

hot cross buns

I took a 1 pound piece of dough (about a grapefruit size) from the bucket.

hot cross buns

Formed it into a loose ball and cut that in half.

hot cross buns

I continued to cut the pieces in half until I had 8 2-ounce portions.

hot cross buns

then you will form each one into a smooth ball.

hot cross buns

Let them rest for 1 hour on a cookie sheet lined with a Silpat, Silicone Baking Mat or Parchment Paper Sheets. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Once they have rested you will lightly brush them with egg wash and then pipe the flour paste over the top in a cross using a pastry bag and round tip. You can eliminate the paste and slash the dough in a cross pattern instead. I just wanted to try this traditional method, but it does require an extra step.

hot cross buns

Bake them for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. While they are still warm I brushed them with Lyle’s golden syrup (or honey) with a Pastry Brush (it may be easier to brush on if you warm up the syrup just a little),

hot cross buns

and pipe the icing over the cross.

hot cross buns

Just like the song says, you want to eat these hot! Enjoy!

Happy Passover and a Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate these holidays!

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157 thoughts on “Hot Cross Buns!

  1. oven thermometers.
    you mention the importance of this. but how accurate are the oven thermometers you buy at the grocery store or Target? I’ve had an oven thermometer for years. Today I preheated the oven. when my oven said it was 450, the thermometer said 300. I waited another 10 minutes and it read 350. I increased the setting to 500. When I checked again. my oven said 500, the thermometer said 400, and there was a lot of smoke. I put the bread in to bake; I baked at that temperature a while. The highest the oven thermometer read was 420.
    The basic 1 pound boule baked in 30 minutes.
    what do you say about oven thermometers? worth buying an expensive one?

    1. Hi rebel,

      I have boiled my thermometers when I suspected that they weren’t accurate. Water boils at 100°C or 212°F, so you can tell if you need to replace the thermometer. I always buy a simple, inexpensive thermometer.

      Thanks, Zoë

  2. I used the brioche dough to make Greek Easter Bread (TSOUREKI) and just added the seasonings typically recommended for that (orange zest, malhab etc). I used the dough for cinnamon rolls Friday before Easter and then the bread on Easter. They were both fabulous. I just love your book! Thanks.

      1. Hi,

        I wonder how Gillian did her tsoureki, withought kneading it too much?

        I know you have to braid it, but it would require some extra kneading.

  3. Could you also use the challah dough to make them? I need Challah for Saturday night and would rather just make one batch of dough…. thanks! 😀

  4. I am thinking of making these the night before Easter. Will they stay fresh till Easter breakfast? What’s the best way to store them for freshness.

  5. The Hot Cross Buns are delicious. The Lyle’s Golden Syrup came out to sticky for me. We had them for dinner but we did not ice them yet, maybe later tonight on the leftovers.

  6. We always had hot cross buns with the flour paste cross… but it was placed into a slashed cross… I’ll look around and see if I can find the old recipe I used… but that was always how we bought them…

    Only recently they started to arrive with icing(blah)… We always loved to get them still hot from the baker… All ‘stale’ ones were toasted under the grill for a refresh…

    This was the song
    “Hot cross buns!
    Hot cross buns!
    one a penny, two a penny,
    Hot cross buns![1]

    If you have no daughters, give them to your sons. One a penny two a penny, Hot cross buns”

  7. Thank you for the recipe. Our local bakery makes these with some chopped candied mix peel, so I modified the recipe by adding 1/3 cup mixed peel/ candied citrus peel combined, and 2/3 cup currants. The HCB’s turned out lovely! The aroma is amazing!!!

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