Hot Cross Buns for Easter!

Hot Cross Buns

Hot cross buns, hot cross buns, everybody loves hot cross buns! are the words to the children’s song, and they hold true even now. These little buns are traditionally served at Easter time: A sweet dough that is spiced, studded with dried (sometimes candied) fruit and decorated with a cross made of icing. I made them after many requests and my kids devoured them within minutes; they were nervous about the raisins, but the cream cheese crosses and scent of cinnamon and nutmeg drew them in.

As I researched these delicious buns I realized that there are just 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!

If you follow along on our Breadin5 Instagram, you can watch us make the buns in our Instagram stories. The recipe comes from our latest book, Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day, which also has a whole chapter on Easter bread recipes.

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns
From Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Follow along in our Instagram stories to see how we make the buns!

Dough (yields 5.7 pounds, about 25 buns)
1 ½ cups (340g) lukewarm water (100F or below)
1 tablespoon (10g) Red Star Platinum Yeast

1 tablespoon (17g) kosher salt
8 large eggs (455g), lightly beaten
½ cup (170g) honey
1 ½ cup (3 sticks | 340g) unsalted butter, melted
7 ½ cups (1065g) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons orange zest, grated
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups (200g) currants or raisins

Egg wash (1 yolk with 1 tablespoon water), for brushing buns

4 ounces (113g) cream cheese, room temperature
4 tablespoons (57g) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup (57g) confectioners’ sugar
¼ cup (85g) maple syrup

Hot Cross Buns

Mixing and storing the dough: Mix the water, yeast, salt, eggs, honey, and melted butter in a 6-quart bowl, lidded (not airtight) food container, or the bowl of a stand mixer.

Mix in the flour, spices, zest, vanilla, and raisins without kneading, using a spoon or heavy-duty stand mixer (with paddle). If you’re not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour. The dough will be loose but will firm up when chilled; don’t try to work with it before chilling.

Cover (not airtight), and allow to rest at room temperature for 2 hours, then refrigerate.

The dough can be used as soon as it’s thoroughly chilled, at least 3 hours. Refrigerate the container and use over the next 5 days.

On baking day: dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 2-pound (cantaloupe-sized) piece. Divide the dough into 8 or 9 equal pieces and quickly shape into balls.

Place 2 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone mat, cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F, with a rack placed in the center of the oven.

Brush the tops with the egg wash and place the baking sheet in the oven. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until richly browned.

Allow to cool completely. Pipe the icing in a cross over the top of each bun. There will be some extra icing for spreading on the buns.

Hot Cross Buns

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163 thoughts on “Hot Cross Buns for Easter!

  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!!!

    1. Linda: Doing the math, we’ve got more than two hunks of that size, but less than three (2.8 to be exact).

      As you can see from an earlier response, our book (and the initial version of this post), left out the yield statement for this dough, so I’ll be adding a “Correction” on that page here on the website. It’s a big recipe, making nearly 5.7 pounds of dough, which is 25 buns (at about 3.5 ounces per bun). Hopefully all that’s clear…

      1. Thanks for this info– I am looking at the book right now and came here to hopefully find the answer. Very helpful!

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