Hot Cross Buns

Heavily flavored with traditional baking spices, citrus zest and raisins, these Hot Cross Buns are a delicious way to start the morning!

Heavily flavored with traditional baking spices, citrus zest and raisins, these Hot Cross Buns are a delicious way to start the morning!For some reason, we never ate Hot Cross Buns growing up.  They just weren’t on our radar.  However, when we moved up here to New York state some 10 (11?) years ago, I remember stumbling across a pack of Hot Cross Buns in the grocery store.  They looked tasty, so I picked up a package.  Unfortunately, like many baked goods at grocery stores, they looked way better than they tasted.

Heavily flavored with traditional baking spices, citrus zest and raisins, these Hot Cross Buns are a delicious way to start the morning!This same thing happened when I moved to Louisiana and tried my first king cake.  It was dried out and bland, and I didn’t understand the infatuation with king cakes.  Then I had one from a specialty bakery, and I immediately understood.  No more grocery store king cakes for me.  Unfortunately, I didn’t learn from my mistakes when it came to Hot Cross Buns.  I picked up that package from the grocery store, and again I was sorely disappointed.  I think most of them ended up in the trash.

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns are spiced rolls that are traditionally served on Good Friday.  The buns are said to be a way of celebrating the end of Lent, and the cross is symbolic of Jesus’ crucifixion.  Like most traditional recipes, the origins of these buns are a bit murky.  There is some evidence that a similar style of roll existed in pre-Christian times, but Christianity absorbed the tradition as the religion grew.  Regardless of the beginning of the story, I can tell you with 100% certainty how the story ends – with me gobbling down a roll or twelve.

Heavily flavored with traditional baking spices, citrus zest and raisins, these Hot Cross Buns are a delicious way to start the morning!These buns are heavily spiced with many of my favorite baking ingredients – cinnamon, allspice, cloves and nutmeg.  Add in a citrus twist thanks to the orange and lemon zest, and you’ve got one heck of a delicious treat!

Heavily flavored with traditional baking spices, citrus zest and raisins, these Hot Cross Buns are a delicious way to start the morning!In the Georgian era of Britain, bakers would hire street callers to shout out their wares.  That’s where the nursery rhyme comes from:  Hot cross buns! Hot cross buns!  One a penny, two a penny—Hot cross buns!  If you have no daughters, Pray give them to your sons, But if you have none of these little elves, Then you must eat them all yourselves.  We have a son, and while he helped me eat this batch of these buns, I definitely helped, too!  Just slice open one of these buns, toast it lightly and then spread some butter on top.  That’s how I roll.  (Get it?  Roll?  As in bun?  Haha.  Dad joke right there!)

Heavily flavored with traditional baking spices, citrus zest and raisins, these Hot Cross Buns are a delicious way to start the morning!One last little tidbit.  It is said that Hot Cross Buns can bring good luck.  If you hang a bun in your kitchen, it will protect against kitchen fires as well as ensure that all batches of rolls will be perfectly baked.  The roll is then replaced each year.  I’m gonna try this out – at least until Laura tells me to get rid of the stale (and perhaps moldy) bun hanging from our kitchen ceiling.  Cheers, and happy baking!

Did you bake a batch of these Hot Cross Buns at home?  Leave a comment, or snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog).  I’d love to see your version!

Heavily flavored with traditional baking spices, citrus zest and raisins, these Hot Cross Buns are a delicious way to start the morning!

Hot Cross Buns

Heavily flavored with traditional baking spices, citrus zest and raisins, these Hot Cross Buns are a delicious way to start the morning!
5 from 5 votes
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Prep Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 50 minutes
Servings: 12 buns
Calories: 289kcal

Ingredients

For the Buns

  • 4 cups bread flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • tsp instant dry yeast i.e. 1 (¼-oz. packet)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter softened
  • cups warm milk
  • 1 large egg
  • tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup golden raisins
  • ¾ cup raisins
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • zest of 1 orange

For the Crosses

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp powdered sugar
  • 5 Tbsp water

For the Glaze

  • ¼ cup apricot jam
  • 1 Tbsp water

Instructions

For the Buns

  • Using the bowl of a countertop mixer, add flour, sugar, instant dry yeast, salt, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and nutmeg; stir until well combined.
  • In a separate bowl, add butter, warm milk, egg and vanilla extract; stir until well combined.
  • Pour liquid mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Using the dough hook attachment, stir until dough begins to come together.
  • Add golden raisins, raisins, lemon zest and orange zest; continue mixing until well combined.
  • Turn dough out into a large oiled bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm location until dough approximately doubles in size (~1 hour). Note: I always let dough rise in the oven with only the oven light on.
  • Line a baking tray with parchment paper; set tray aside.
  • Transfer dough to a lightly-floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, flatten dough and then press down on top with your palm. Rotate hand clockwise until dough comes together in a ball. Place dough balls at least 1½” apart on the prepared tray.
  • Lightly spray tops of dough balls with baking spray. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and place tray in a warm location for 60 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. (Note: If letting the dough rise in the oven, make sure to remove tray before preheating oven.)

For the Crosses

  • Using a small bowl, whisk together the flour, powdered sugar and water. Transfer mixture into a piping bag or a sandwich bag with one corner snipped off. Pipe a cross onto the top of each roll.
  • Bake at 350°F for 18-22 minutes, or until buns are golden brown in color. (Note: If you have an instant read thermometer, the temperature of the rolls should be ~200°F.)
  • Remove tray from oven and let rolls cool slightly.

For the Glaze

  • Using a microwave safe bowl, add apricot jam and water. Heat in 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until jam has melted and mixture is smooth. While rolls are still warm, brush tops with the glaze.
  • Serve buns warm or at room temperature.

Heavily flavored with traditional baking spices, citrus zest and raisins, these Hot Cross Buns are a delicious way to start the morning!

Looking for more tasty Easter baking recipes?  Check out these other favorites, too:

With orange juice in the cake and in the glaze, this Orange Juice Cake is a delicious treat for either breakfast or dessert!Orange Juice Cake

Leftover ham?  No problem!  These Cheesy Ham Biscuits are studded with chunks of ham and cheese...and they're delicious!Cheesy Ham Biscuits

This Lemon Blueberry 7UP Pound Cake is packed with bright lemony flavor...and it's a great dessert for warm Spring days!Lemon Blueberry 7UP Pound Cake

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24 Comments

  1. Will be making this soon with few subs i never had hot cross buns before sorry for early comment as am in Singapore will dm you if i make this and let you know how it goes Thanks Ramya

    1. No worries at all on the timing, Ramya! That’s the thing about food blogs – we can connect across the entire world no matter the time. 🙂

      Also, if you like to bake, you should try a batch of these hot cross buns! They’re quite tasty.

  2. I’ll bet the secret to grocery store buns is that they spend one or two pennies making each one. I can’t agree with you more on that sad fact. On the other hand, grocery store baked goods sure makes the homemade stuff seem all the more spectacular! You know, I’ve never had a hot cross bun! I think I might make these for Easter!

    1. You know, you make an excellent point here, Jeff. I know grocery store margins are insanely low, but I have to think they make a decent profit in the bakery department. Baking ingredients are fairly cheap, but the finished products are often quite pricey…and usually not that good. Either way, homemade is better! And these hot cross buns? Excellent!

      P.S. If you make a batch, make sure to hang one from the ceiling for good luck…

  3. 5 stars
    I didn’t have hot cross buns growing up either. They’re SO good. I have to admit that I’ve never made them from scratch, but now I’m inspired to try.

  4. Like you, I’ve learned the hard way that store bought baked treats tend to give the treat a bad name as they almost always look better than they taste. And, like you, these days I usually grab baked treats from bakeries and specialty stores – With that said, we grew up on hot cross buns for Easter and your ones filled with spices take me back! Fantastic recipe, my friend!

    1. That’s true, Shashi – a good bakery is worth the price for baked goods. But supermarkets’ bakery departments just continue to disappoint. Oh well, I like to bake, and it was fun making homemade hot cross buns! The spice mix here is amazing!

    1. Chocolate hot cross buns? I don’t think I’ve ever seen those here – now I’m intrigued! And, yes, I hope the ones you ordered are fabulous!

    1. Thanks so much, Sammie! This homemade version of hot cross buns totally changed my opinion on this treat. They’re delicious, and we definitely gobbled them up in no time!

  5. Very pretty, David. And I’m sure they’re delicious. Like that bit of apricot jam on top as a glaze. However, I wouldn’t throw out your fire extinguisher if I were you…

  6. 5 stars
    Hot cross buns were such a thing in my family at Easter. I’ve never made them from scratch myself but my mum and gran used to. The recipe doesn’t seem to difficult either. Thanks for the memories and inspiration David!

    1. Ah, you totally should make hot cross buns from scratch this year, Neil! It would be a fun trip down memory lane I think. Plus, homemade hot cross buns are quite delicious!

  7. 5 stars
    We never ate Hot Cross Buns growing up either – we never knew it. Indeed, I first learned about this recipe about 10 years or so in a Russian cooking magazine. I made it right away. Those buns were nothing like any other Easter breads I’d tried. I’ve only baked them once since that, and that’s probably not happening this year, but I also have an idea of French toasts with leftover buns. That could be delicious, I think.

    1. Ah, French toast using leftover hot cross buns would indeed be delicious, Ben! Or perhaps tear ’em into bits and turn them into a breakfast casserole? There are a lot of fun ideas here!

  8. There are certain things I rather pick straight from a supermarket (or a good bakery) and buns are one of those things. These buns look so beautifully done, I would love to try your recipe at home 🙂

  9. 5 stars
    These Hot Cross Buns look insanely good, David! We didn’t really eat them too much — just on occasion, but I only recently learnt that they’re eaten on Good Friday, which is a little funny since typically we fast on Good Friday. Anyhoo, the lesson here is not to eat bakery department goods! Haha! 😉

    1. Ah, that is interesting about the Good Friday angle there, Michelle. Perhaps for Holy Saturday instead? But, yes, the real lesson is that homemade baked goods are always better than in-store bakery department baked goods. 🙂

  10. 5 stars
    Same here I never ate this as I grew up because it was not known in the Philippines 🙂 The first time I tried one was already here in New Zealand where it is quite popular, since then I love it, specially the freshly baked ones with melting butter on top, Oishi!

    1. Interesting! I always find it interesting to hear which items are popular in different places about the world. I’m a big fan of Hot Cross Buns now that I’ve learned what they should actually taste like! 🙂

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