Hot Cross Buns

  • Easy old fashioned Hot Cross Buns recipe for soft and lightly spiced rolls. Studded with raisins, a traditional cross, and glazed with an apricot glaze.

    So how many of you like raisins? We happen to love them (except for my hubby) and look forward to these Hot Cross Buns every year! If you don’t like raisins in your rolls try these Honey Wheat Rolls or these flakey Crescent Rolls. And if you would like something without yeast try these Buttermilk Biscuits.

    Top down view of a pan of freshly baked hot cross buns.

    What are Hot Cross Buns?

    Well, they are rolls that were traditionally made on Good Friday. They date back to the 12th century when a monk baked them and marked them with a cross on top in honor of Good Friday. However, others remember eating them all through lent.

    They are a lightly spiced soft roll studded with raisins, currants, or sultans. Traditionally they are marked with a cross by either cutting into the dough or by making a flour and water mixture and marking the buns before baking.

    More recently bakers are marking the buns with an icing cross. Both are equally delicious!

    Ingredients for hot cross buns.
    Pictures of dough rising.

    How to Make these traditional buns?

    • Start by dissolving the yeast. This first step is important because it will let you know if your yeast is alive or not. If it doesn’t look foamy then the yeast is dead and will not work.
    • Make the dough. You can use a stand mixer or do this by hand.
    • Kneading time! The dough needs to be kneaded long enough to form gluten and create a smooth elastic dough. Usually, this takes around 10 minutes with a stand mixer on low speed and longer by hand. If you are kneading dough by hand watch this little video from King Arthur to help guide you.
    • Let the dough rise. Your dough will rise 2x in this recipe. One time after you have kneaded it and the final rise after it has been shaped into rolls and placed in the pan.
    • After the 1st rise is over punch the dough down then shape the dough into rolls.
    • Pipe crosses on top.
    • Bake!
    • Top with a glaze.
    Pictures of dough being made into rolls.
    Showing the cross being made on top of the buns before baking.

    The Cross

    Traditional Cross

    • To make the traditional cross before baking you need to combine flour with water until you have a thick, smooth, and pipeable paste.
    • Spoon into a piping bag or sandwich bag and cut the tip off.
    • Pipe onto the rolls. RecipeTin Eats has a great video on piping the crosses.
    • I will say crosses made this way are a tad chewy but still good!

    Icing Cross

    • After the buns have baked and cooled completely draw on a cross with icing.
    • Mix powdered sugar with just enough milk or water to make a pipeable icing. (It needs to be thick so it keeps its shape)
    • Place into a piping bag or sandwich bag and cut the tip off.
    • Pipe onto the rolls.
    • If you are wanting a sweet glaze on your buns as well you will need to do that first and let it dry slightly before piping the cross.
    Close up of hot cross buns in a baking pan.

    Sweet Glaze

    I prefer to glaze my hot cross buns but it is totally up to you. There are a few options for glazing.

    • Easy option: use apricot jelly or orange marmalade thinned with just a tiny bit of water.
    • Option #2: make a simple syrup. Bring 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/3 cup of water to a boil to dissolve the sugar. Cool and brush over the buns.
    Roll broke open to show how fluffy it is inside.

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    5 from 4 votes
    Close up of hot cross buns in a baking pan.
    Hot Cross Buns
    Prep Time
    20 mins
    Cook Time
    25 mins
    Rising Time:
    1 hr
    Total Time
    1 hr 45 mins
     

    Easy old fashioned Hot Cross Buns recipe for soft and lightly spiced rolls. Studded with raisins, a traditional cross, and glazed with an apricot glaze.

    Course: Breads/Rolls
    Cuisine: American
    Keyword: traditional hot cross buns
    Servings: 12
    Calories: 400 kcal
    Author: Malinda Linnebur
    Ingredients
    • cups (295ml) warm milk (about 110°F)
    • teaspoons active dry yeast
    • ¼ cup (55g) sugar
    • 3-3½ cups (460g) bread flour
    • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
    • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • ¼ teaspoon ground clove
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • zest of ½ an orange
    • 1 cup (135g) raisins, currants, or sultans
    Cross:
    • cup (45g) all purpose flour
    • 3-4 tablespoons water
    Sweet glaze:
    • Apricot jelly or orange marmalade
    Instructions
    1. Whisk together the milk, yeast, and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer and let stand for 5 minutes or until mixture is foamy.

    2. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine then switch to the dough hook. Knead on low speed (speed 1 or 2) for about 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Lightly grease a bowl and place dough in the bowl to rise. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm area until doubled in size.

    3. Grease a 9×13 baking pan and set aside.

    4. Punch the dough down and turn out onto a work surface. Don't add flour at this point. Knead the dough a few times to remove any trapped air bubbles and divide dough into 12 equal portions. Shape each into a smooth round ball and place in prepared pan.

    5. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm area until almost doubled in size. Add the cross. Combine the flour with just enough water to form a thick but pipeable paste. Spoon into a piping bag or sandwich bag and cut the tip off. Pipe a thick cross on each bun.

    6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool 5-10 minutes before glazing. To glaze combine a small amount of jelly with a tiny bit of water and brush over the tops of the rolls.

    Recipe Notes
    1. Storage: Store completely cooled rolls tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room tempurature for up to 5 days or in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. 
    2. Make-Ahead: After you have kneaded the dough place in a lightly greased bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for up to 15 hours. Remove from the refrigerator and allow the dough to come to room temperature (about 2 hours) before continuing with the recipe.
    3. Freezer Friendly: Let the dough rise 1 time then punch the dough down and shape into rolls. Place on a greased pan and freeze several hours until frozen then transfer to a freezer safe container or bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. To use remove from freezer, place on a greased baking sheet, and thaw completely at room temperature (about 4-5 hours) then bake as directed. Or freeze completely cooled rolls by wrapping tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months.
    4. Nutrition facts: Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the information shown is just an estimate. Nutrition facts does not include the apricot glaze. 
    Nutrition Facts
    Hot Cross Buns
    Amount Per Serving (1 roll)
    Calories 400 Calories from Fat 45
    % Daily Value*
    Fat 5g8%
    Saturated Fat 2g13%
    Cholesterol 23mg8%
    Sodium 244mg11%
    Potassium 293mg8%
    Carbohydrates 78g26%
    Fiber 4g17%
    Sugar 6g7%
    Protein 11g22%
    Vitamin A 132IU3%
    Vitamin C 1mg1%
    Calcium 51mg5%
    Iron 2mg11%
    * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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