The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns! Hot Cross Buns!
One a penny,
Two a penny,
Hot Cross Buns!
If you have no daughters,
Pray give them to your sons!
One a penny,
Two a penny,
Hot Cross Buns!

My recipe below.

Hot Cross Buns are a popular Lenten tradition which are believed to have originated in England 150 years ago, though perhaps they are originally of pagan origin. Most commonly they are eaten on Good Friday. They are not made after Easter.

This year I baked my buns with raisins because that is what I had in the house. In past years I've used currants, which are excellent.

If your raisins or currants are dried out, soak them in warm water for 10 minutes before mixing them into the dough.

Hot Cross Buns

Makes 1 dozen buns

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/8 cup sugar
1 cup warm (90-100 degrees) milk
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 teaspoons instant (bread machine) yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raisins, currants, or dried fruit
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

Egg wash:
1 egg

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and spices. Add the warm milk and butter and mix until all ingredients are combined. Add a little flour or milk until you achieve the proper consistency, which is moist enough that all of the ingredients stick together but dry enough that you can knead the dough without it sticking to your hands. I had to add a couple of tablespoons of flour to get to this consistency, but depending on the humidity in your area and how tightly packed your cups of flour are, your may need to add more or less.

Pour the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 5 to 10 minutes. Flatten the dough and pour the raisins or currants on top and press them into the dough. Work the dough until the raisins are well mixed in. Return the dough to a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until the dough has doubled in size.

When it has risen, pour the dough out onto a cutting board and divide into 12 pieces. Roll the pieces into balls and place on a greased baking surface (I used a 9 x 13 Pyrex pan). Cover the pan and allow to rise until they double in size again, typically 45 minutes to 1 hour.

While the buns are rising, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. When the buns are ready to bake, scramble the egg in a bowl and brush some over the top of the buns. Then put the buns in the oven and bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Remove and allow to cool for 5 or 10 minutes.

While the buns are cooling, make the glaze by combining the lemon juice with the powdered sugar (you can also use orange juice, milk, or water if you don't have lemon juice around). Use a pastry bag, a spoon, or a knife to paint the crosses on top of the buns. Eat while still hot.


tori's picture

those look so perfect!

Altaf's picture


MOMPEAGRAM's picture

I'm going to try these! They look great.

crumbbum's picture

I have this dough set to rise right now, but as usual, I can't leave anything alone. Sometimes I'll use powdered milk in my bread recipes, and since I put in golden raisins and dried cranberries in this one, I decided to use a fresh orange.

I got my zester and added bits of orange to the fruits, then I microwaved the orange and squeezed the juice out. I used the orange juice plus the water from hydrating the cranberries and then additional tap water to fill out the cup of liquid.

I also added a couple of drops of orange extract for good measure and I've reserved some of the orange juice to make the glaze, too.

It smells wonderful, I have high hopes!

albusgirl's picture

My family really loved these. Thank so much for providing the receipe. 8-)

JMonkey's picture

Hot CROSS buns, that is. I doubled the recipe, shaped them last night, and popped them in the fridge. Pulled them out this morning, let them finish rising and put them in the oven. Took about 20 minutes to cook thoroughly and I had to be a little chintzy with the icing (only had 3/4 cup instead of a full cup of powdered sugar), but they made for a very tasty, traditional breakfast.

Brought the rest to work (my family only ate 5) where they were a huge Good Friday hit.

Thanks Floyd!

maggie664's picture

Although we have sons and daughters, Floyd, they are no longer living with us, so we will be eating these ourselves (with no objection!) They look beautifully soft and enticing. Thank you for the recipe.

strattor's picture

I am a huge fan of the hot cross buns from Jeffrey Hamelman's book, "Bread". Besides a really tasty, light bread, (and including candied citris peel, which I think is key), the crosses are quite a bit different. He uses paste made from just oil, water, and flour that goes on right before the buns go in the oven.

 The cool part is that when the buns rise from the oven spring, the crosses stay out, meaning that the buns rise around the crosses. That means that when the buns come out the crosses are now flush with the bun. It's very attractive, and is really easy to brush with simple syrup to give them that nice shine. Give it a shot.

postiechic's picture

That's right....traditionally the crosses are made from flour and water and piped onto the buns before baking. I've never done it any other way.


maggie664's picture

Have just got our Hot Cross Buns to final proofing but used good quality small chocolate drops instead of currants and a speculaas spice mixture which included a little cardamom, also vanilla essence and cinnamon bark oil and an egg as extras. Even before baking the aroma is tantalising. The dough was soft but firm and easily rolled into-er- rolls by moving the palm of my right hand in a circular movement on a board while applying a little pressure.

karooart's picture

the speculaas mix is a brilliant idea - just mixed up a batch and the smell is divine!!!!

pseudobaker's picture

Thank you for this recipe - I made a triple batch on Good Friday and a double batch on Easter Sunday, and they disappeared very quickly!

maxamilliankolbe's picture

Made these today for our choir after our Good Friday Veneration Service and they were delicious!  I used dried cherries as the fruit, and they were perfect, though next time I think I will chop them just a tad since they were a bit large.  I really like the flavor of icing made with lemon juice.  I'm not sure why I didn't think of that before, but I would only use milk.  Now I'm thinking that next time I'll put just a tad bit of anise in the dough as well and a tiny drop in the icing.  Thanks for a great recipe that can be adapted so many ways!!



abfab's picture

I have never baked anything in my life but I love Hot Cross Buns. I made this according to directions but something just ain't right, they dont look the same and mine taste kind of bad. I don't understand why because everything went so easy and the dough was nice and soft and rose up really nice. When I scrrambled the egg I couldnt quite spread it onto bun and defintely not with my brush so I mashed it up good and stuck it on top of each bun and carefully pushed it into the dough. Well the buns came out and instead all nice and golden brown, mine had brown spots, the only spots that browned were the scrambled egg bits and it tasted like a eggy sweet roll..very odd texture. I am going to try agian next week and maybe leave out the egg and just add butter?? Any suggestions?

apprentice's picture

I'm not sure but from your description, it sounds like you might have scrambled the egg over heat? As in making scrambled eggs for breakfast? You're meant to scramble the egg up, but just in a bowl. You can use a whole egg, if you like. Or to make it a little richer, use an egg yolk by itself.

To make the egg really wash well over your buns, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water or milk. Froth mixture up with a fork or small whisk, and brush it on before baking to give them a nice glaze. The French call this mixture dorure.

There's an excellent post on TFL about glazes to show you the effect that different ones create. I'll see if I can find it and post the link here later.

abfab's picture

Yes I scrambled them....I thought it was a bit wierd but I am not a cook nor baker. Thanks I am going to try it thatt way! The chunks of egg were really a turn off. Thank you!

apprentice's picture

Yep, those chunks would have been nice and chewy by the end of the bake! But hey, you knew enough to ask. That's how we learn best in baking as in everything else, by making mistakes!

Here's the link to the post about glazes.

It's one of several lessons listed on the home page. Have a look (right hand side, about halfway down). Lots of good, helpful stuff.

abfab's picture

I made these again....They were great, at least six of them...the other six I decided to make into cinnamon buns and added a 1/4 cup of cinnamon. They look like brown communion wafers, they never rose up? I guess for now I should just stick to the original recipe. They are 100% better than my egg chunked Hot Cross buns. I read the recipe and it did say scrambled but I think the word beaten is better for new people like me. Anyway..the squirrels and birds really liked the ones with the egg chunks, they didnt like the cinnamon ones( I think they actually Repelled them) so I guess they could be strung aroung my garden to scare them or donated to the local hockey team...they are as hard as a puck! I am now going to attempt a cake with Royal Icing. This should be fun, especially the merengue....I have never been able to get it to become stiff, I just get white bubbly liquid but I am going to try it with the cream of tartar. Thanks!

pmccool's picture


Sounds scary, doesn't it?  In this case, cinnamon (and other tree bark spices) is toxic to yeast, at least in the quantity you used.  Dead yeast = no rise = hockey puck.  For half a dozen rolls, one teaspoon would probably have given you all the flavor you wanted without killing the yeast in the process.  Better luck next time.


josordoni's picture

Paul, is it toxic to sourdough, or just to yeast?


Pablo's picture

Funny you should ask.  I have a batch of naturally fermented sough rising right now.  It's a total of 1400gm and I put in 1 T of cinnamon.  So far it looks like it's rising OK.  I'll let you know once I bake them in about an hour or so.


*Remember to stop and smell the flours*

Pablo's picture

The cinnamon didn't kill my natural ferment, but it may have had some impact.  They didn't bounce quite as much as I'd hoped, but they're definitely edible.

I posted a pic under "Peach ferment bread"


*Remember to stop and smell the flours*

summerbaker's picture

I live in Florida but right now I'm in Cheyenne and i'm not used cooking in such a dry climate.  I ended up adding another 1/4 cup milk and the rolls still came out dry.  I should have listened to my instincts and added even more milk but since I had never made them before I didn't want to stray too far from the recipe.  Back home I almost certainly would have had to add more flour because of the humidity.

Daisy_A's picture

We're sitting enjoying these warm on Good Friday. Thanks for the recipe. Despite being English I'd not made Hot Cross Buns before but these were delicious. I put on a dough cross, omitted the egg and just added an orange glaze after baking, all of which worked fine. The tops were beautifully brown and crusty, the inside soft and fragrant, which was all better than I hoped for really, given that I'm just getting into sweet bread recipes. Don't think I would have tried without seeing your recipe and appealing photos on the home page so appreciate you flagging them up!   Daisy_A


jjneitling's picture

I couldn't help laughing out loud about the egg stuff.  And then, the cinnamon.  This blog is certainly a source of unintended humor.  Thanks for the laffs.

mizschiz's picture

I just read the part about serving them warm (which makes sense, since they're HOT cross buns...or is it that the cross itself is hot in a symbolic sense?).

Anyway, I wonder if it's okay, then, to put the pan of pre-rolled buns into the oven overnight, so that I can just bring them up to temperature and bake tomorrow for lunch?  Will all of this cinnamon business have a greater effect on their rise if I do that?

Happy Easter, Everyone!

Floydm's picture

I think it'll work.  Good luck!

mizschiz's picture

You were right.  They were delicious.  My husband told me that I might be the first person in history to ice hot cross buns in a car moving 70mph on its way to Easter dinner. 

Jenm's picture

First time making Hot Cross Buns.  Didn't have all-purpose white flour so I used Eagle Mills Ultragrain.  Needed additional liquid.  Very Yum!  My family loved them!  Thank you for the recipe, Floyd.

frankwalta's picture

We went to my in-laws for Easter.  Among the things we brought for dinner were hot cross rolls.  After we returned home that evening, my mother-in-law called my wife and asked her to tell me that the rolls were delicious.  Mom was a very good baker, but health issues keep her out of the kitchen.  Thank you for providing this recipe; it made an impression on Mom.   

punainenkettu's picture

I'd like to know how to make the mixture for dough crosses if anyone could share.  I love these and I think I will just have to make some YUM!!! Oh and crumbum you make me smile. I also am incapable of leaving ANYTHING alone and love how you add flavor by utilizing the juice and leftover liquid from the rasins!  My husband always gives me a hard time when I do things like that but why should I throw out FLAVOR!!!  :)

And kudos to you abfab for jumping in and trying something new!  Keep it up and you'll be a whiz in no time! Just keep asking questions, everyone here is really helpful.


Daisy_A's picture

Hi punainenkettu,  Don't know about others but for piping the dough I followed the Hamelman hot cross bun recipe on Susan at Wild Yeast's site The ingredients are below, prepared and piped before baking as per steps 13 and 15 of Susan's write up. I found it challenging but okay as a beginner, as above photo.  I was pleased that during baking the cross stayed on and pulled down into the traditional hot cross bun shape, although I admit I chose the best bun for the photo! Much more elegantly piped examples on Susan's site. Happy baking   Daisy_A

Piping Paste Ingredients:

  • 170 g pastry flour
  • 50 g vegetable oil
  • 120 g water


Yumarama's picture

The quantity of paste this recipe makes (as does the one in Bread) is enough for an army of rolls. 


The above is using Hamelman's amounts (226g pastry flour, 68g oil and 158g water) but you'll see that the piping bag is very full; in the second photo is that same bag after I had piped all the buns.

You'd be safe to cut Susan's amount in half and still have some left over.

Another thing to note: Hamelman's book has TWO different versions of the paste. One is the flour/oil/water one above but at some point in the book's printing (after run #5 but before run #8 as far as we've been able to pinpoint) he switched the paste recipe to one with butter, milk, egg, lemon peel... 

2nd paste version

Hot Cross Buns were the first Hamelman bread we did in the Mellow Bakers and we ran into this change along the way. You can see what people said about it here. But it still makes a huge amount, so again, cut it in half at least.



A Hamelman BREAD baking group


Daisy_A's picture

Following Paul's comment above, I would agree about dough quantity. I also halved the amount listed above,  had some to practise with and still had quite a bit left. Daisy_A

themaltesebippy's picture

I made these today.  I used mini choc chips in them and used a little sef rising flour.  They came out nice and soft.

cynthia dew's picture
cynthia dew

Just made these buns, minus good with butter. I also added lots of fine orange peel/zest.

Will try to attach photo....could not do it...exceeded size..will try again...

Thanks for the recipe....


Salilah's picture

Anyone got a good recipe for HCB using sourdough / wild yeast only?  Mine all appear to also use dried yeast - is it necessary due to the amount of butter, fruit etc?


TwoNubsAnaFork's picture

i use a wild yeast poolish, and all I did was omit the yeast and substituted about a cup and a half of my poolish, and I honestly didn't measure my flour, but i think it was about 3-4 cups.  They look fantastic, and smell even better, but I will let you know how they taste when they come out.  10 min and counting!


Salilah's picture

Thanks for this!  I've just done a (trad dried yeast) recipe for HCB from the River Cottage Bread book, and it's such a sticky dough, there was no chance to form these into little balls, they are splodges!  I'll bake them, but I think I'll also try with my starter and do them a bit drier <grin>



bread_house's picture

They look amazing! I will be travelling to see family over the Easter Weekend who have already put in a request for Hot Cross Buns ... Is it possible to make the dough and shape the buns ahead of time, place them in the fridge overnight and the next moring cart the uncooked buns home and cook them there?  Its a 8 hr drive .... Any thoughts?

StuartG's picture

I dont have a specific answer for you but they will retard overnight in a fridge just fine.  I made them yesterday for the first time and put them in the fridge before bulk ferment.  Overnight they had risen about 1½ times and then I shaped the individual rolls while cold in the morning before they proofed for about 3 hours (its pretty cool here - about 20C).

I expect you can mix them and keep them on ice in an esky/chilly-bin and they'll travel fine.

As they only take about 15 mins to throw together you dont have much to lose by trying :)

Fresh hot cross buns are divine!

protzies's picture

These are delicious, and really so easy to mix up and work with.  I've finally found my "go to" hot cross bun recipe!  I put the grated rind of one orange in the dough with golden raisins, and used orange juice and orange rind in the glaze.


rolls's picture

Made these recently. My third time using this recipe. It's pretty fail-proof. I was really impatient this time wiv d rising and they still turned out amazing. I always soak d raisins and use the liquid :) 

For d icing, I never measure jus sprinkle some icing sugar in a tiny bowl, add a drop of vanilla extract and a drop of boiling water and mix with a fork and then use the same fork to drizzle over the buns. 

rolls's picture

Just converted this recipe to no knead. Let's see how they turn out :)

transplanted brit's picture
transplanted brit

I have always made my crosses out of rolled strips of my favorite pie pastry which uses butter - they are more like those we used to get from our local bakery when I was a child.   My personal recipe for these buns is quite sticky and benefits from chilling overnight in the fridge.  I also use raisins, currants, and candied grapefruit peel which I make myself.   My son taught me to warm the buns in brown paper lunch sacks, in the microwave - it works well.   I slice them before warming and then insert butter when they come out of the microwave.

Salvia's picture

I was a little skeptical about putting the lemon icing crosses on these as I was serving them with dinner. Also I had vegan guests coming over and risked making these with water (instead of milk) and oil (instead of butter). A they were scheduled to come out of the oven after the arrival of the guests, there wasn't time to come up with a plan b. I also 'glazed' them with oil before cutting a cross in the tops and then baking. Well, I'm happy to report that the substitutions worked smashingly and the buns were the absolute hands down hit of the party. Yet another recipe going into my 'go to' list. So delicious! Thank you. Oh, and I did put the lemon frosting on after baking and black currents inside. Everyone agreed that the frosting was a lovely addition to the yummy buns. 

Salvia's picture

Should the piping be added just before baking after the buns have been allowed to rise or is it added before they rise? Thanks.

Marty's picture

After the bake and when they have cooled a bit. The icing will melt on hot buns.


Skibum's picture

I made a batch of these this afternoon.  The dough went together and developed quickly and I LOVE the subtle flavour.  I need work on my shaping and I will wait a little longer before painting the crosses next time, but this was a wow first bake at this recipe.  This was a fun and tasty bake!  My problem now is that I can't stay away from these.  I had planned to gift my neighbours a half dozen as an Easter gift, but I am afraid I will have to do another batch or two for that.

I used half currants and raisins for the fruit, soaked in water, then drained.  I will add some home made candied orange and lemon zest next bake and soak the fruit in brandy or sherry, which may have to start as soon a tomorrow . . .  Yes I made a full batch and this recipe definitely goes into my full baking rotation.

Outstanding!  Thanks again for sharing, Brian

JUFO's picture

I've just set my first batch aside for a second rise using my sourdough starter, with a little commercial yeast added for the second rise  - to hurry things up. I've done this before and made some good sourdough spelt breads - using the bread machine (I know that's probably sacrilegous, but it helps maintain the shape of the bread and give me some freedom.  It's a compromise of taste versus time and hopefully it will work for cross buns as well as it has with the breads. So, I used the same quantities as the recipe and then added 3/4 cup of starter. I hope the cinnamon doesn't compromise the wild yeast, but it seems to be rising normally. I'm not so good at being precise, so I bake by 'feel' most of the time. I also added some fennel seeds, wild figs (chopped up a bit), pepitas and some mixed spice. I'll re-post when they're done. Fingers crossed!!

... they were so good! I ate far too many, but they were wonderful! Thanks for the recipe!!

mini_maggie's picture

Made these for the first time this year, two batches and both turned out great, just like Floyd's picture.  Used the bread machine to knead, used 1 tbsp white and 1 tbsp brown sugar, put half the egg wash in the dough because I knew it would be leftover, and brushed with egg wash after shaping before final proof and again before going in the oven, and they were lovely.  Got lots of compliments on the texture and crumb - people said they preferred them to other HCB's texture.  Added in a total 1/2 cup of sultanas and chopped dried sweet cherries.  Awesome.

Floyd - I've yet to try one of your recipes that hasn't turned out awesome - for things far more impressive than I ever thought I would be able to bake.  Thanks so much.