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Hot Cross Buns Recipe – An Easter Weekend Tradition

I have to admit, I had never heard of Hot Cross Buns until just a few years ago.

I wanted to make Sweet Rolls for a family brunch that we had scheduled. So I went to my computer and began to search for recipes.

There were Hawaiian Rolls, Sweet Rolls, Cinnamon Rolls and Hot Cross Buns that kept popping up in my search results.

hot cross buns
A tray of Hot Cross Buns ready to be served at our Easter brunch.

Of course I knew what they all were, except for one. From the picture, it was obvious why there were called Hot Cross Buns.

Each roll was marked with a cross shape on top. From the picture that I saw, it looked like icing was piped across the top.

The picture sparked my interest and I knew that I had to find out more about this recipe. So I clicked the link to see what I could learn.

The Significance of Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns are spiced sweet rolls that are made with raisins or currants. The are typically served in various parts of the world to signify the end Lent.

Traditionally they were served on Good Friday and each part of the bun has a certain meaning.

unbaked buns
The buns are now ready to be baked.

The cross on top represents the crucifixion of Jesus. And the spices are said to signify the spices used during the burial process.

There are records that they have been served in the United Kingdom since before the 1600’s. And they are popular in other countries as well.

After reading about Hot Cross Buns, I was almost ashamed that I had never heard of them. However, I decided that this was one recipe that I had to try.

Making The Dough

The recipe starts with making the dough for the buns. But it can’t just be any dough.

The dough for Hot Cross Buns must have the addition of spices and raisins/currants.

brushing the tops
Brushing the tops of the baked Hot Cross Buns with a sweet glaze.

Orange zest, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg are added to the dough to give it a sweet yet spiced flavor.

And after looking at the recipe it might be surprising that the yeast isn’t dissolved in a mixture of sugar and water.

Beyond popular belief, active dry yeast really don’t need to be dissolved in water before use.

If it is fresh the yeast will dissolve with the standard liquid required in most recipes.

Yes, you can dissolve it if you want to and because you always have. However, I am always looking for ways to simplify recipes.

baked hot cross buns
The buns have been taken out of the oven and the glaze has been added.

I add the yeast along with my dry ingredients and the dough rises and turns out perfect every time.

Making the Cross

Traditionally the cross on top of the Hot Cross Buns were made using shortcrust pastry.

However, a more common way in today’s society is to use a paste made from flour and water.

And those pictures that I saw that looked like the cross was made from icing was true!

In some parts of America, icing is used in place of the pastry or paste to make the cross.

Although that sounds delicious, when I make this recipe I prefer to use the paste to make the cross.

Adding the cross to the tops of the buns.

After the dough has been separated into rolls, I add the paste to the top of each one and the cross is baked right in.

No need to add icing. Especially when there is already a sugar glaze brushed on top after baking!

Now I make these Hot Cross Buns for Easter brunch every year!

And to save time on a busy Easter morning, I made them a day ahead of time and refrigerate them until they are ready to be baked!


Mary and Jim

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Hot Cross Buns

hot cross buns

Spiced sweet rolls that are traditionally eaten on Good Friday and most recently are served as part of Easter Brunch.


Roll Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons 1 package Active dry yeast
  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 3/4 cup raisins

Cross Ingredients

  • 1- cup flour or more
  • 1/2 -3/4 cup water, adjust to desired consistency
  • 2 tablespoon sugar

Glaze Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoon warm milk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar


  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, add the butter, milk, sugar, and heat just until melted, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the egg. Add ¼ cup of the warm liquid to the egg whisking constantly. Add another ¼ cup to the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Add the egg mixture to the saucepan and whisk until incorporated.
  3. Pour the liquid mixture into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl add the yeast, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice and orange zest. Whisk until well combined.
  5. Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients and mix on medium speed, using a dough hook if available. Continue to mix until the dough comes off the sides of the bowl, adding additional flour if needed.
  6. Knead dough by hand or by using the dough hook attachment of a stand mixer for 6 minutes. Add the raisins to the dough and continue to knead for another 2-4 minutes.
  7. Place dough in a large greased bowl. Cover loosely with a towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.
  8. Punch the dough down and divide into 12 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball. Place the rolls in a greased 9x13 baking pan or on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Make The Cross

  1. Mix the flour and sugar and then add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, so you add just enough for a thick paste. Either roll the dough into small sections to create a cross, or spoon paste into a piping bag and pipe a line along each row of buns. Repeat in the other direction to create the cross shape. Let it rise for about 15 -20mins until risen.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the buns are a deep, golden brown color.

Make The Glaze

  1. Combine milk and sugar and brush the tops of the buns with the glaze.
  2. Let cool or serve warm.


Recipe courtesy of Old World Garden Farms

Nutrition Information:

Serving Size:

1 grams

Amount Per Serving: Unsaturated Fat: 0g
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