Hot Cross Buns

hot cross buns 1

I didn’t think hot cross buns were in the stars for me this weekend, but -almost without thinking about it- I warmed some milk and butter and proofed some yeast as I made coffee this morning, and then suddenly they were in the works. I still had currants left over from Christmas fruitcake-baking, after all – it would be a shame not to bake a batch. Right?

Hot cross buns are essentially cinnamon-spiked dough dappled with currants or raisins and candied peel – although I usually skip the bits of peel and add grated orange zest instead. When I think about it, I have no idea why these are limited to once a year. It’s like raisin bread in soft bun form – if you have some aged cheddar or Gouda in the house, tuck some into a warm buttered bun to win friends and influence people.

hot cross buns 3

The dough is easy to mix – if they’re for breakfast, you can shape the buns, cover and refrigerate them overnight to slow the rise.

A little beaten egg makes them glossy.

hot cross buns 6

Some pipe icing crosses onto their baked, cooled buns, but there are two reasons I like to add a flour-water paste before they go into the oven: I like that they bake right on, and don’t get sticky or messy, and I like to eat these warm, which would mean the icing would melt and slide off unless I waited until they cooled. If you want to go the icing route, by all means skip the flour-water paste and pipe on whatever icing/drizzle you like.

hot cross buns 5

The easiest way to pipe on the crosses is to scoop your icing or paste into a zip-lock bag, snip off a corner and squeeze. Easy. No clean-up.

hot cross buns 2

hot cross buns 2
hot cross buns 2

Hot Cross Buns

Recipe link


March 26, 2016


2 tsp. active dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water

1/3 cup sugar

1 cup milk

1/4 cup butter

3 1/2-4 cups all-purpose flour

grated zest of an orange

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. salt

1 large egg

3/4 cup currants or raisins

Gloss + Paste:

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup water


1In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup warm water, along with a pinch of the sugar. (If it doesn't get foamy, it's inactive - toss it and get some fresh yeast.) Meanwhile, warm the milk and butter in the microwave or on the stovetop until it's warm enough to melt the butter. Set aside to cool until it's warm to the touch, but not too hot.


3Add the milk-butter mixture to the yeast mixture along with about half the flour and stir until well blended. Add the rest of the flour (hold back the last half cup, just in case), orange zest, cinnamon, salt and egg and stir or knead with the hook attachment of your stand mixer until you have a soft, slightly sticky dough. Add the remaining flour, if you need it - the dough should be soft and tacky, but not overly sticky. Cover the bowl and leave it for an hour or so, until it's doubled in size.


5Turn the dough out onto the countertop, spread it out a bit and sprinkle with the currants. Fold the dough over itself and knead a few times to incorporate the currants into the dough. Divide in half, then quarters, and cut each quarter into four pieces, so that you have 16 pieces of dough. Shape each into a rough ball and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet or into a 9x13-inch baking pan. Cover and set aside for another hour.


7When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375F. Brush the buns with some beaten egg, and in a small dish, stir together the flour and water to make a smooth paste. Spoon into a small zip-lock bag, seal and snip off one corner; squeeze over the buns to make crosses. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until deep golden. Serve warm.


9Makes 16 buns.


About Julie

You May Also Like

2 comments on “Hot Cross Buns

  1. Moira
    March 26, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    I agree with the “Why do we only have these at Easter!?” Always a winner in our household. I went rouge this year and turned mine into Hot Cross Cinnamon Buns :)

  2. Diane
    March 26, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    HI, Julie Thanks for nudging me to make your Hot Cross Buns. Dough rising now! Hopefully a slow rise in the fridge and warm spicy buns for breakfast! I typically make my mom’s recipe (from Margo Oliver) but this year I’m making yours. Orange zest is brilliant as no one in my house likes peel. Have a Happy Easter!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.