Hot Cross Buns, a real Easter staple, but there’s no wrong time of the year to savor the delights of this squidgy, spiced, fruit-studded bread.
Bake a much loved British treat with this hot cross bun recipe, baked with raisins or currants, and best served with loads of butter. Traditionally, these are eaten in celebration of the end of Lent and this recipe for hot cross buns is sure to result in a delicious Easter treat for all the family.
What are Hot Cross Buns?
The origins of a hot cross bun recipe may go back as far as the 12th century. They’re yeasted sweet buns filled with many spices and various fruits ( currants, raisins, and/or candied citrus). They’re decorated with a white cross, either marked right into the dough or etched on top with icing.
What Do Hot Cross Buns Taste Like?
This recipe for hot cross buns is a cross (aha!) between a dinner roll and a cinnamon roll. They’re soft, yet a little dense with a deliciously spiced flavor from cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. You can play around with the spices, try adding a little cardamom too!
The buns are sweetened mostly with brown and granulated sugar, then topped with a gorgeous orange icing.
💡Tip: For extra flavor, add a little orange zest or candied orange peel into the dough.
Crosses on Hot Cross Buns
There’s a couple ways to make crosses on buns:
- Add Flour Cross BEFORE baking: Pipe a “paste” of flour and water on top of each bun. This is the most traditional way of the cross.
- Add Icing Cross AFTER baking: Skip the glazes and make the icing by combing powdered sugar and water or orange juice, then, pipe a thick cross on each bun. (see Glaze 2 in recipe). Or get the best of both worlds and add both the glaze and the icing
Use a piping bag (you don’t need a piping tip) or a zipped-top bag. Snip the corner off. If making the flour cross, make sure the corner opening is small because you want a thin line.
Hot Cross Buns
- 180 ml Whole milk, luke warm
- 2 1/4 tsp Instant yeast or active dry yeast Usually 1 package
- 30 g Granulated sugar
- 70 g Light bown sugar or dark
- 400 g All-purpose flour or bread flour
- 20 g Milk powder
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp Ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp All-spice
- 1 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
- 2 large Eggs, room temperature
- 80 g Unsalted butter, room temperature
- 140 g Currants or raisins
Flour cross (apply before baking)
- 40 g All-purpose flour
- 60 ml Water
- 3 Tbsp Vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp Abricot jam
- 1 Tbsp Water
- 120 g Powdered sugar
- 3 Tbsp Fresh or bottles orange juice
- 1 large Egg
- In a medium bowl, combine the lukewarm milk, yeast, and 1 TBSP of the granulated sugar together. Stir and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes until foamy.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, place the remaining sugars, flour, milk powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.Add the milk mixture, eggs, and vanilla extract to the dry ingredients, and mix on low for 2-3 minutes.
- Increase the speed of the mixer to medium, and mix for a further 7 minutes. Add the butter a little at a time, waiting until the butter is incorporated before adding the next piece. Mix for a further 7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and soft, and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
- Turn out the dough (it will be a bit sticky) onto a work surface, and knead in the fruit by hand. It will take some time but the fruit will eventually incorporate into the dough. (2-3 minutes)
- Shape the dough into a ball, and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or clean tea towel and place in a warm spot until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or place in the fridge overnight not more than 12h). *See notes for overnight rise*
Shape The Rolls
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.When the dough is ready, weigh & divide the dough into 12-14 equal pieces.
- Roll each piece tightly into a ball, arrange them evenly on the baking sheet, leaving a little space between – don’t space them too far apart if you want them to join together in the oven to give the ‘classic’ hot cross bun look.
- Lightly cover the pan with plastic wrap, and leave in a warm place. Allow to rise until puffy, about 1 hour, the dough springs back when lightly pressed with a finger.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
Apply Egg Wash + Add The Cross
- Brush the buns with an egg wash.
- Whisk the cross ingredients together, starting with 4 Tablespoons of water. You want a thick paste that will pipe easily. Add remaining water if needed.
- Spoon the paste into a piping bag (No need to use a piping tip), Cut off a small piece at the corner. Pipe a line down the center of each row of buns, then repeat in the other direction to create crosses.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown on top, rotating the pan halfway through. If you notice the tops browning too quickly, loosely cover the pan with aluminum foil. Remove from the oven and allow rolls to cool for a few minutes as you prepare the icing.
Make The Icing (whichever you prefer)
- Whisk the icing ingredients together, then drizzle or brush on warm rolls. Serve immediately.
How to store Hot Cross Buns
These are best on the day they are made but will keep for one to two days in an airtight container and should be split and lightly toasted before serving.
Cover leftover rolls tightly and store at room temperature for 1-2 days or in the fridge for up to 5 days
How to freeze Hot Cross Buns
The buns can be frozen but this should be done ASAP and preferably as soon as the buns are completely cool.
Put the buns in a resealable bag or airtight container with parchment paper in between the layers of buns, and freeze for up to a month.
The buns should defrost in 2-3 hours at room temperature and can be warmed in an oven preheated to 150°C/fan 130°C/300°F for about 5 minutes. However if the buns are a day or so old then it is best to split and toast them before serving.
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If you make this hot cross bun recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment below or take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #WhatsUpDoughBakes.