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 Breadin5’s Instagram, you can watch the bun-making in an Instagram story. The recipe comes from the 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
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) Granulated 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

Note:  Red Star Yeast sponsored this post, and provided free samples of Red Star and Platinum yeast for testing. is reader supported–when you buy through links on the site, BreadIn5 LLC earns commissions.

186 thoughts to “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.

    1. should be OK, but not like fresh. Use a plastic bag or other airtight container once they’ve completely cooled.

  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!

    1. Hi Kim,

      You’ll want to shape the dough into a loaf, let it rest in a prepared 9×5-inch pan for about 90 minutes and bake it for close to an hour at 350°F.

      Thanks, Zoë

  8. Could you create a version of broa that has more whole grains? Christopher Kimball has made a traditional not the way you make bread I mean that has rye flour. Also corn flour hydrated in boiling water.

    Also what are the differences between the British and American editions of your first book? I like the cover I saw of the British one, btw.
    Thank you

    1. Hi Tammy,

      Thank you for the suggestion, the whole grain broa sounds delicious!

      The British edition of the book is written for the flours and ingredients found there. It is also written in cup measurements that are standard for baking in England. All of our books are now published with grams, so that makes any of them more useful around the world.

      Thanks, Zoë

  9. Hi! I’m not sure if it’s been brought up but I’m having issues with my dough when left in the fridge. The day after getting everything set up, it’s formed a sort of crust over the dough, with the wet pliable dough underneath. I have had this happen twice. I tried removing the crust and the dough never rose and inedible results.
    My only guess is I’m not sealing the container airtight and it’s drying out?

    1. Hi Sarah,

      Too much air is getting into the container, so the dough is drying out. You do want to close it a bit more, but don’t snap it all the way shut, unless you have a pin prick of a hole to allow the gas to escape.
      Thanks, Zoë

      1. Thank you so much Zoe! Oddly enough I switched from my 8qt pressure cooker which didn’t have this problem (and a pinkytip size hole for air), to a large clip style rubber seal container.
        I set the lid on without using the clips to seal, thinking that would work.
        I’ll try next time with it half sealed or 3/4ths sealed before making any airholes as a last resort.
        I appreciate this method and your help so much!

      2. Hi Sarah,

        It really only requires the smallest hair sized crack to allow the gas to escape. Hope that works!

        Cheers, Zoë

  10. Been trying to get back into Artisan Bread in Five and the dough just doesn’t work. I used to be able to whip it together and it worked every time. Now 6 batches in days has done nothing. It doesn’t feel right. Not rising enough. It’s too dense. Trying one last batch today and seeing if it works. I know it has to be me because it worked so much before. I moved to the city from the county and the water stinks like chlorine now. I tried it with filtered water. Tried it recently with spring water. Neither works. I am using Active Dry Yeast because we don’t have platinum here. Tried it with 00 flour, tried it more with unbleached white AP flour and still it just doesn’t rise enough and feel way to dense. I am at a loss as to what I am doing wrong. Also tried putting dry ingredients first, then tried water first. Oohh also tried warm water and room temp water. I keep trying and failing! What could I try next just for the basic recipe?

    1. Hi Heather,

      This is so odd. Where are you located, is it at high altitude? Are you sure your yeast is still good?

      Thanks, Zoe

      1. I live in Tennessee. Not High altitude thankfully. Yeast is good at 2020 expiration. Gonna try again tomorrow once I get more bread. I thinkkkk after reading a comment above mine that it could be the drying out dough issue. I am gonna try the pin prick method and see if that helps. Would do it tonight, but I don’t think my apartment gets warm enough around 72-73F in here. Seems like when I take it outdoors it does rise, just not enough and I think it’s getting to much air exposure. One of those things I didn’t think about until after I posted that and saw someone else having a similar issue.

      2. Hi Heather,

        That sounds like a good place to start, let us know if it works out or if you need more suggestions!

        Cheers, Zoë

      3. Can’t edit, but meant more flour! It’s been one of those weeks apparently!

  11. I’ve made this recipe for the last 3 years. But this year I am out of honey and I’m avoiding the grocery store as much as possible. What can I use instead of that? Regular sugar?

  12. have made panettone and hot cross buns (using Canadian flour; increasing butter for buns to 1.5 c). Result for both is heavy and somewhat dry. Would reducing egg whites (6 whole eggs, 2 yolks) be a remedy?


    1. No, Canadian flour has more protein than what we tested with, which was US all purpose flour. If you decrease any of the liquids the problem is going to be worse. You need to adjust for the Canadian flour, and the solution is usually a little bit more water. Maybe an eighth or a quarter cup. Let me know which of our books you were working from and I can direct you


      2. I wouldn’t decrease the egg whites, which help with rising. If you really think it’s still too dry just increase the water a bit

  13. I’m so glad you came up with this recipe! I have been wanting to make hot cross buns for Easter for some time now but am so spoiled by the ease of my “bucket dough” method aka Artisan Bread in 5 method.

    Thanks so much! Love what you two do!

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