The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hot Cross Buns

foolishpoolish's picture

Hot Cross Buns

In the run up to easter, I've been working on a naturally leavened recipe for hot cross buns.

Results are up on my blog, for all who are interested:



MommaT's picture

Foolish Poolish - you have done it....posted the Hot Cross Buns I have been dreaming about (and posting about) lately.





ejm's picture

Beautiful!! I really like that the cross is baked in rather than iced on. (I always think that icing on crosses is cheating.)


althetrainer's picture

My goodness.  Aren't they beautiful?  Makes my mouth water.  You did very good.

Judon's picture

Hi, Foolish Poolish has withdrawn his/her blog. Did anyone happen to copy the recipe for this naturally leavened Hot Cross Bun?

If you think it's OK to share it, please post it!



ejm's picture

Alas, I didn't copy FP's recipe. Sometimes, pages can be retrieved from "the wayback machine" but it's looking like all traces have been removed.

But I worked out how to convert a recipe for wild yeast to one using domestic yeast and would think that the instructions could just be reversed to make a recipe calling for yeast into one using natural yeast.

Here is Susan's (Wild Yeast) hot cross bun recipe that calls for a pre-ferment and instant yeast:

And here is the recipe I use when making hot cross buns: (based on "Hot Cross Buns 06 - Scottish Hot Cross Buns" from the recipe archive of

Hope one of those works for you.


P.S. I highly recommend that you make your own candied peel (this is a link). It's SO much better - not to mention, cheaper - than commercially prepared candied peel.

ejm's picture

Excuse me for appearing to reply to myself. I knew that I had researched this very thing a while back (in the days before I accidentally on purpose murdered my wild yeast starter) when I made Wild Caraway Rye Bread, vaguely based on the recipe for rye sourdough in Joy of Cooking by Irma Bombauer. Here's what I found then:

Richard Packham wrote the following on his webpage "Sourdough and Sourdough Starter":

The general rule for substituting sourdough starter for yeast is to use one cup of starter for each one-ounce yeast cake, and then reduce the amounts of flour and liquid each by about one cup.

And at, I saw the following:

The night before you want to bake the bread, feed the starter with 1 cup rye flour, 1/2 cup bread flour, and 2/3 cup water. Cover, and let stand at room temperature overnight.

Hope that helps!


Judon's picture

Thank you ELizabeth - I'm going to keep this as a reference file.

I saw Susan's Hot Cross Buns on her wild yeast blog and they were my main contenders along with Jeffrey Hamelman's recipe. But since I began by asking for the recipe fom Foolishpoolish...that will be the one for this season.

Thanks again for all your help.



gmabaking's picture

I would love to find this recipe also so I hope that someone saved it and it is okay to share. No luck with TFL search, evidently it was also once on Yeastspotting but is no longer there. Been using sourdough almost exclusively (except for the ITJB challenges) for about two months now and am amazed at the variety of possible tastes within a single recipe. I followed the advice of several TFLers and have been baking Nancy Silverton's Country White bread once a week.

 If anyone has a naturally leavened recipe for hot cross buns, please share it. Good Friday is almost upon us!

Thank you, 


Virtus's picture

I don't know if I should do this, but these buns are AMAZING!


115 g flour

62 g water

35 g 100% starter

Final Dough:

250 g strong bread flour

90 g whole wheat flour

60 g rye flour

250 g mixed dried fruit

200 g starter

90 g sugar

90 g butter

150 g water

1 larger egg + 1 egg yolk 80 g

30 g golden syrup

30 g oil

2 tbsp milk powder

9 g salt

zest of one orange and one lemon

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp ground cardamon

1/2 tsp ginger

a few tablespoons milk

for the crosses:

50 g flour

13 g icing sugar

25 g butter

about 40 g water

for the glaze:

50 g sugar

50 g water

several star anise

1 tbsp rose water

1. Mix the flour, starter, water, egg, syrup, oil, milk powder and salt into an even dough.

2. Gradually knead in the sugar, a tablespoon at a time until you have a fully developed dough.

3. Bulk ferment the dough in a warm place (75-80) for 7 to 10 hours until the dough is roughly 1.5 times its original volume. Apply several folds at even intervals during this time.

4. While the dough is rising, mix the spices into the butter until they have been distributed evenly.

5. After the bulk ferment, knead the butter into the dough, a tablespoon at a time.

6. Rest the dough for 20 minutes.

7. Gently knead or fold the dried fruit and citrus zest into the dough.

8. Allow the dough to rest for another 10 minutes before dividing and shaping into 12 buns.

9. Pace the buns in a cake tine or baking tray and brush with milk.

10. Proof the buns for 8 to 12 hours until they have doubled in volume.

11. Prepare the glaze by heating the sugar, water and star anise in a pan until boiling, and simmer for a few minutes. Allow the glaze to cool before stirring in the honey and rose water.

12. For the crosses, rub the butter into the flour and icing sugar. Stir in enough water to make a thick, smooth paste (suitable for piping).

13. After proofing, gently brush the buns once more with milk.

14. Using a piping bag (or plastic bag with a hole in one corner), pipe crosses with the flour paste on the buns.

15. Bake the buns at 400F for 15 minutes or until they are nicely browned on top.

16. Glaze the buns immediately after baking and once more while they are still warm.

Well, if I get kicked off the TFL site for this, it's okay. This recipe is really wonderful. I hope 'foolishpoolish' isn't offended. I typed it out word for word.

Thank you, Foolishpoolish for this recipe!!!

gmabaking's picture

Am starting poolish right now.  I must have spent two hours today scrounging around the web searching for this recipe after seeing the picture and reading the comments. It reminded me of the search years ago for a cookie recipe (Melting Moments) made with cornstarch and butter. Two small cookies graced the bill at a local cafe where the recipe was a closely guarded secret. Someone at the office said he thought his mom used to make them and the name was Melting something or other. I searched old recipe books for months until I found it. Well worth the time spent too. I wondered this afternoon if this elusive recipe would become the same obsession! Probably need therapy but cooking and baking seems like a whole lot more fun.

 I hope we can balance the joy of all the happy folks who will taste these hot cross buns with however much trouble we two get into! Thank you Virtus

Judon's picture

is perfect. Today was my deadline to make my decision on which recipe to use. Thank you for with most others, my baking time has to be balanced with so many other tasks and I rely on the work of the great bakers here on TFL and have never been disappointed. Thanks again for rescuing me.


Pompom's picture

In the directions for the Hot Cross Buns you mention adding honey with the rose water for the glaze, but haven't listed how much?  Can't wait to try this out!

Breadandwine's picture

Thought I’d throw my HCB recipe into the mix, for those who can’t eat dairy and eggs, or who just want a cheaper, simpler, but still tasty, alternative:

About the composition of the crosses: As someone who spent part of his childhood stamping crosses into trays of HCBs in his dad’s bakery, I simply don’t see the need for a pastry cross. It’s an unnecessary faff, IMHO! (I once had a bun from a local supermarket, with a flour and water cross on top – and the cross stayed intact in my mouth while the rest of the bun disappeared!)

I don’t want you to get the idea I’m against faff, however! I absolutely applaud the dedication and care the OP has put into his buns. I know the joy and pleasure gained from crafting a wonderful bread using all the knowledge and skills at one’s disposal. Sometimes, when I’ve nurtured a bread over a day or so – or longer, in some cases – there is a real feeling of – well – loss or emptiness when it’s all finished. But needless faff, well, I’m dead against that!

And don’t forget, whichever HCB recipe you use, this is just one of a wonderful range of fruit breads – from Chelsea buns to schiacciatta con l’uva, apfel kuchen and Swedish tea ring and many more. Once you’ve made the dough you can either make buns with it – or shape it into any of the other great fruit breads:

Happy breadmaking!

Cheers, Paul

Breadandwine's picture

Made some nice buns today using dried apricots, sultanas (soaked overnight) and dates. Had a great time making them with my 6-year-old grandson, Alfie.

Breadmaking and kids go so well together!

Cheers, Paul