Hot Cross Buns Recipe

Hot Cross Buns Recipe

English hot cross buns are scented with allspice and baked with dried currants and candied citrus peel. The buns are traditionally enjoyed for breakfast on Good Friday, but that doesn’t keep me from baking these all year round. It’s ready in about three hours so it’s quick as far as yeast rolls go.

The dough is also an excellent base recipe for pillowy, moist, and lightly sweetened rolls. Even with the cookie-like cross on top, most of the sweetness comes from the additional dried fruits and candied citrus peel. Variations with spicing, fruits, and even nuts makes this recipe an easy way to use up odds and ends from baking other stuff.

The crossing paste is piped right before baking. The cross ends up crisp, much like lemon vanilla cookies, and goes well with the softness of the buns. Most versions I’ve tried are topped with a thick cross of icing after baking and tend to be way too sweet to my liking.

I should mention that the cross adds an agreeable vanilla-citrus crunch and is definitely not just for decoration. I’m thinking of using different extracts and flavorings for the paste, perhaps as an addition to brioche. It’s kind of fun to doodle on dough and bake.

Happy Easter!

recipe adapted from Jeffrey Hamelman’s Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes
Yeastspotting at Wild Yeast Blog
Bake Your Own Bread

Traditional English Hot Cross Buns

makes 12 buns


Simple Syrup Glaze
Crossing Paste
Hot Cross Bun Dough

Special Equipment:

  • A pastry bag
  • A #11 or #12 round pastry tip (about 1/4-inch opening)

For the Sponge:

whole milk, warm3/4 cup + 2 tbsp6.7190
granulated sugar2 tsp0.39
instant yeast2 1/4 tsp0.257
bread flour1/4 cup1.337

Sponge Directions:

  1. Whisk together the warm milk and sugar to dissolve. Add the instant yeast and flour and continue whisking until smooth.
  2. Cover and let stand at room temperature for about 30 to 40 minutes, until the sponge is 3 to 4 times its original height. The sponge will be frothy and slightly jiggly.

Hot Cross Buns Recipe Sponge
Mmm yeasty.

For the Simple Syrup Glaze:

granulated sugar1/2 cup + 1 tbsp4113
water1/2 cup4113

Simple Syrup Glaze Directions:

  1. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  2. The simple syrup can be used as a glaze while still hot or made ahead and refrigerated.

For the Hot Cross Bun Dough:

bread flour2 2/3 cups12340
unsalted butter, softened4 tbsp257
large egg1
granulated sugar1/4 cup + 1 tsp257
salt1/2 tsp0.13
allspice, ground1 tbsp0.13
all of the sponge
dried currants or raisins3/4 cup4113
candied citron, minced1/4 cup packed1.337

For the Crossing Paste:

unsalted butter8 tbsp4113
sugar1/2 cup + 1 tbsp4113
whole milk1/4 cup + 2 tbsp385
vanilla extract1 tbsp0.514
lemon zestfrom 1 lemon
large egg, beaten1/2 egg
all-purpose flour, sifted1 3/4 cups8227


  • Make the crossing paste just as the shaped rolls are almost done proofing. The paste may stiffen if made too far ahead.

Hot Cross Bun Directions:

Mix. In a large bowl, mix together the flour and softened butter. Add the egg, sugar, salt, and allspice and continue mixing until evenly incorporated. Add the sponge and continue mixing until a shaggy ball of dough is formed.

Knead for 4 to 5 minutes, until the dough is only slightly sticky. Add dried currants or raisins. Fold the dough over itself gently until the dried fruits are evenly distributed in the dough.

Bulk Ferment #1. 30 minutes at room temperature

Lightly knead the dough inside the bowl.

Bulk Ferment #2. 30 minutes at room temperature

Prepare a sheet pan lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper.

Divide. 12 pieces

Shape. tight round rolls

Hot Cross Buns Recipe Shaped

Final Proof. 60 minutes at room temperature, or until about 1 1/2 times its original size

Preheat Oven. 440ºF / 225ºC

Make the Crossing Paste. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the sugar and mix thoroughly (the sugar won’t be completely dissolved at this point).

Remove from the heat. Add the milk, vanilla extract, lemon zest, and egg. Continue whisking until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the sifted flour and mix only until a smooth paste is formed.

Pipe the Crossing Paste. Use a round pastry tip with a 1/4-inch opening. Pipe the paste after the dough is done proofing and right before baking.

Hot Cross Buns Recipe Piped

Bake for 14 to 16 minutes at 440ºF / 225ºC, until the buns are well browned and the crossing paste is lightly colored.

Glaze. Brush with the simple syrup glaze immediately after removing from the oven.

Serving / Reheating. This just in: hot cross buns are best when fresh and served hot. Reheat day-old buns at 350ºF / 175ºC for about 6 minutes before serving.
Hot Cross Buns Recipe Baked
This is a first. Half the buns are usually gone in the time it takes to shoot a camera.

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39 Responses to “Hot Cross Buns Recipe”

  1. Christina@DeglazeMe says:

    Wow, you are very brave! What a huge venture! They obviously turned out lovely, and I bet delicious too.

  2. noble pig says:

    They are so beautiful!

  3. Arundathi says:

    They look gorgeous! Happy Easter!

  4. Manggy says:

    Oh my. Those are as perfect as I’ve ever seen them. Well done. (I love the pre-baking pic most of all.)
    Happy Easter!

  5. natalia says:

    Ciao ! I was going to post mine but now I fell a bit ashamed…yours are so beautiful !! Very Happy Easter to you !!

  6. Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella says:

    I didn’t realise that these were considered English until reading this and a friend in the US said that she hasn’t seen any where she lives. They look great although I admit that I do like a sweet cross :)

  7. Rosa says:

    They look really pretty! A delicious easter speciality!



  8. Caitlin says:

    Beautiful, but I just have one problem – you waited too long to post these. I so would have made them this weekend, but didn’t see this until Monday morning. I’m blaming my hot-cross-bun-lessness (yes, it’s a word) on you. I hope you feel guilty.

  9. Maya says:

    These a great split in half, toasted and topped with some sweet butter.

  10. lisaiscooking says:

    These look incredible! I made similar hot cross buns for the first time this year, but I used Dan Lepard’s recipe. Yours look perfectly round and delicious!

  11. jo says:

    How appropriate for Easter and these buns look really awesome.

  12. kat says:

    You see these beautiful buns so much this time of year & I’ve never ever had them!

  13. maris says:

    I’ve seen so many amazing variations of these this week but yours look truly professional!

  14. snookydoodle says:

    oh delicious nad so so nice !!!

  15. Lori says:

    I love the look of these buns. You did a great job and I can so see why they disappear so fast!

  16. Irene says:

    I’ve never had buns like these – I want one now! I’ve always wondered what a “hot cross bun” was, actually. It looks seriously delicious, especially still warm from the oven (as I am imagining it… yuuum).

  17. Y says:

    Those look fantastic! Interesting recipe for the cross too. Most of the ones I’ve seen, only use flour, water and maybe some sugar.

  18. Haley W. says:

    I have never seen Hot Cross Buns without icing, but I love this paste that you use! It sounds delightful, and a welcome change to the many frosted desserts already plaguing my waistline. :)

  19. Aparna says:

    I have never made hot-cross buns and yours are tempting me to, Jude.
    This flavoured paste is something that’s really nice.

  20. codfish says:

    Jude, I love that the cross piping is vanilla and citrus—what an interesting touch. I haven’t thought about Hot Cross Buns since 5th grade clarinet practice, but now you’ve got me itching to try them out. : )

  21. Kathy - Panini Happy says:

    Those are some of the best-looking hot cross buns I’ve seen!

  22. zorra says:

    These look gorgeous and come directly on my baking list!

  23. Zita says:

    Wow… I envy your piping skill, those crosses were perfectly done, superb!

  24. noobcook says:

    They look so cute and dainty! No wonder they are gone in no time ;p

  25. Joelen says:

    What a great job you did and they look so delicious! Again, I have baker’s envy – lol!

  26. Madam Chow says:

    Jude,these look great! I really like the ingredients in the crossing paste. This is definitely a recipe that I will have to try.

  27. grace says:

    pillowy? awesome.
    moist? always good. (well, almost always…)
    sweet? perfect.
    yes, your buns are perfect. :)

  28. Natashya says:

    Awesome Jude! Amazing how many variations we have seen on the humble hot cross bun this year. That is what I love most about foodie blogging, it really opens up your horizons. I didn’t even know that allspice was traditional English, I always thing of jerk seasoning when I think of allspice.

  29. Katherine says:

    These are the most fabulous looking hot corss buns I have seen. It looks like quite a process to make but well worth it! Love the cinnamon and allspice.

  30. Sandie says:

    Gorgeous Hot Cross Buns—I wish I had seen these in time for Easter (but at least I have the recipe now)!

  31. MyKitchenInHalfCups says:

    Oh Jude . . . fun to doodle on dough and bake . . . YES . . . more playing with food!
    Gorgeous buns.

  32. elra says:

    What a delicious buns you have here.

  33. Mrs. L says:

    This is the first hot cross bun recipe that I’ve come across that looks appealing. I’ll have to put it in my recipe pile under “recipes to try should I ever get over my fear of yeast”.

  34. howtoeatacupcake says:

    Yum! I made some too, but mine were not nearly as pretty! I gotta try this recipe next! :D

  35. Jescel says:

    nice buns!.. ahem.. the bread looks soo good! i though at firt that the cross is cheese..that’s because i’ve never had this before :o (

  36. Susan/Wild Yeast says:

    I want to try your recipe for the paste!

  37. Stefanie says:

    The buns are very nice! I never ate before (because they are not known in germany) but they look so promising, that I will try them soon!

  38. Caitlin – Uh, I’m sorry? :)

    Lisa – Hoping to check out Dan Lepard’s recipe, too.

    Looks like I have to post more about rolls. I’m used to hearing “nice buns” but in a totally different context.

  39. Tanya says:

    Great recipe! I just baked a batch. Please post more bread recipes!

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