Hot Cross Buns

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It isn’t Easter without a hot cross bun. Dense, slightly sweet, spicy, and packed full of currants or raisins, hot cross buns are a much-loved treat of springtime. And that traditional cross on top of each hot cross bun? It’s so easy to make!

If you are looking for more Easter recipes try my Ukrainian Babka or my favorite Easter dessert, pineapple slice, we make those every year.

Hot Cross Buns
Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

While the most identifiable feature of these buns is definitely their distinctive cross made of flour and water paste, the really great quality of hot cross buns is their spiciness.

The spices used in hot cross buns have a religious link to the spices used to embalm Jesus after his crucifixion (bet you didn’t know that!) and the cross on the bun represents the cross on which Jesus died. (I think everyone knows that part.)

The cross simply adds prettiness to the bun, but those spices make hot cross bun taste incredible!

Hot Cross Buns ingredients

Hot Cross Buns Ingredients

Check the recipe card at the bottom of the page for the exact quantities needed for this recipe.

Sweet Dough

  • White sugar
  • Water
  • Yeast
  • Milk
  • Butter
  • Egg
  • Egg yolk
  • All-purpose flour
  • Salt
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Nutmeg
  • Currants

Flour Cross

  • All-purpose flour
  • Water

Egg Wash

  • Egg white
  • Water
Hot Cross Buns on a plate

How to Make Hot Cross Buns

  • Combine sugar, water, and yeast and let it rest for 10 minutes until bubbling
  • Heat ¾ of the milk in the microwave until steamy, but don’t boil it
  • Add it to a stand mixer with a dough hook and mix in the sugar and butter
  • Add in the beaten eggs one at a time, then whisk together the flour, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg separately
  • Start the dough hook and slowly add in the flour, kneading until it comes together
  • Add in the currants, mixing throughout the dough
  • Shape into a smooth ball and rise in a covered, greased bowl until doubled in size
  • Punch down the dough and divide into 18 buns
  • Spread them 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets
  • cover with greased plastic wrap and rise again until doubled
  • Make the flour crosses by mixing the flour and water together until it’s a pipeable paste
  • Put the paste in a Ziploc bag, snip the corner off, and spread the paste over the buns in a cross pattern
  • Combine the water and egg white and brush it all over the buns
  • Bake at 400 Fahrenheit for 15 minutes, or until a deep golden brown
  • Cool slightly before serving
Hot Cross Buns on a baking sheet

How to Tell If You Have the Right Consistency of Dough

The biggest problem with trying to make hot cross buns at home is getting the consistency of the dough right.

Because of the relatively high hydration and lots of milk, it’s pretty hard to know when you’ve reached the right texture of the dough bowl.

The key is to mix it together until the dough still has plenty of stickiness to it, but it still comes together into a ball.

If you struggle to work the ball of dough because of how much it sticks to your hands, wet your hands under the kitchen tap and shake off the excess. The moisture will stop the dough from sticking to your hands and let you manipulate it and get it moved.

unbaked Hot Cross Buns with flour cross

How to Get the Cross Exactly Right

Another issue with making hot cross buns is getting the cross pattern right.

Made of just some flour and water mixed together, the key is to use a piping bag to get the lines so that they cross over the top of the bun.

You could try spreading it with a knife, but you would probably just end up with a gritty mess that accidentally covers the whole thing.

Feel free to spice and flavor the flour-water paste as much as you like, but you might find that any extra seasonings you add might actually take away from the appeal of your hot cross bun. The bun is spicy, let the cross be plain white flour for the best look!

And hey, you can always drizzle these with a vanilla glaze if you want! We like them plain with butter however.

Looking for more tasty Bread recipes? Try these out:

Enjoy and happy baking!

Love,

Karlynn

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Dense, slightly sweet, spicy, and packed full of currants or raisins, hot cross buns are a much-loved treat of Easter and springtime.

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Hot Cross Buns

Dense, slightly sweet, spicy, and packed full of currants or raisins, hot cross buns are a much-loved treat of Easter and springtime.
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time
20 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Courses
Baked Goods, Dessert
Cuisine
American
Servings
18 buns
Calories
206
Author
Karlynn Johnston

Ingredients
 

Sweet Dough

  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1/2 cup water at 105 °F
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons traditional yeast
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter melted
  • 1 large egg beaten
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten
  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup currants

Flour Cross

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6-8 tablespoons water

Egg Wash

  • 1 large egg white beaten slightly
  • 1 tablespoon water

Instructions
 

  • Combine the white sugar, water and yeast. Let sit for ten minutes until bubbled and frothy.
  • Heat the ¾ cup of milk in the microwave until steamy (scald the milk) but do not boil. Place in a bowl attached to a stand mixer with the dough hook attached.
  • Mix in the white sugar and the melted butter. Add in the beaten eggs.
  • Whisk together the flour, salt, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.
  • Start the dough hook and slowly add the flour. If needed, add in another ¼ cup of flour. The dough should just stick to your hands slightly but come together in a nice ball of dough.
  • Add the currants in and work in by hand.
  • Shape into a smooth ball and place in a large, greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, around 60-90 minutes.
  • Punch down the dough and divide into 18 buns.
  • Arrange the buns 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets. Spray plastic wrap with cooking spray and place on top of the buns.
  • Let the buns rise until doubled in size.
  • Prepare the flour crosses by mixing the flour and water until you get a pipeable paste.
  • Place the dough into a small Ziplock bag then snip the corner off.
  • Pipe crosses on top of the buns lightly making sure not to deflate the risen buns. Combine the water and the egg white and brush a light coating on top of the buns.
  • Preheat your oven to 400 °F.
  • Bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes until a deep golden brown and baked through completely.
  • Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Enjoy warm, or store in a closed container at room temperature for up to 5 days,

Recipe Notes

  • currants are traditional but hard to find, you can use raisins instead! 

Nutrition Information

Calories: 206kcal, Carbohydrates: 33g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 6g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 35mg, Sodium: 188mg, Potassium: 105mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 9g, Vitamin A: 206IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 26mg, Iron: 2mg

All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.

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Karlynn Johnston

I’m a busy mom of two, wife & cookbook author who loves creating fast, fresh meals for my little family on the Canadian prairies. Karlynn Facts: I'm allergic to broccoli. I've never met a cocktail that I didn't like. I would rather burn down my house than clean it. Most of all, I love helping YOU get dinner ready because there's nothing more important than connecting with our loved ones around the dinner table!

Learn more about me

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Reader Interactions

Comments & Recipe Tips Share a tip or comment!

  1. Merilyn Burnside says

    I do not have a stand mixer. Are there instructions to make by hand? Thanks so much. The recipe sounds delicious.

  2. Christina Lewis says

    I’ve made several of your recipes and have always found them to be very clear, but honestly, I was a bit confused by these instructions, and had to guess. There are 2 different quantities of white sugar, and no clarification of which is which in the instructions. There is also no direction about what to do with the yeast concoction. I assumed it was the small quantity of sugar for the yeast and the large was what was added with the butter. I put the yeast mix in before the other ingredients, but it was purely a guess. Currently waiting for the buns to rise on the baking sheets, but they seem to be doing nothing so far. Everything else I’ve made has been delicious, and I’m a fan, but my jury is out on this one so far.

  3. Kanet says

    Take me off your push notifications list please. I did not ask to be on it. Thank you.

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