Hot cross buns warm out of the oven are truly a pleasure not to be missed. Sweet, spiced and filled with dried fruit; you’ll be craving these after trying this homemade version of the traditional Easter recipe.
I enriched my dough with butter, sour cream and milk so it’s rich, soft, and totally delicious. Any baked good that has a song about it is worth investigating!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the significance of hot cross buns?
These are eaten at the end of lent. The cross symbolized the crucifixion while the spices signify the spices used to embalm Jesus.
What are hot cross buns?
Hot cross buns are spiced sweet bread rolls filled with fruit that will always have a cross on top. Originally the cross was cut into the top but later on the cross was piped with a flour paste before baking. Many hot cross buns are now topped with an icing cross made from sugar, which is applied after baking.
Why do you eat hot cross buns on Good Friday?
These buns are made with dairy products, which are forbidden during Lent so you’re not supposed to eat them until Lent is over if you’re practicing that faith.
Which country has the tradition of eating hot cross buns at Easter?
These are thought of as an English tradition popularized in Elizabethan England which spread to many colonies like Australia, New Zealand, and America. These buns have been made since the 6th century AD, with Greek examples being known of among other places.
What can you top a hot cross bun with?
You can either pipe a cross with a paste or flour and water just before baking OR Pipe a cross with icing after the buns have cooled. I opted for the more traditional flour pate but the icing cross is JUST as easy!
Additionally you can brush the buns with an apricot glaze for extra shine and a dash or sweetness if desired.
Can you make this without a stand mixer?
Sure! Use an electric hand mixer with dough attachments or you can even do this by hand.
How to Make Hot Cross Buns
1. Add the butter, sour cream, and milk you a bowl then microwave In 3 30 second bursts mixing in between. The liquid mixture should get be 110F when you add it to the dry mixture in step 5 so it can be a bit warmer than that as it will cool fairly quickly.
2. Zest an orange into the bowl and whisk in then set aside.
3. Dried fruit is ALWAYS better when you soak it; you can do this with the juice of half and orange or 1/4 cup dark rum. Heat for about 45 seconds in the microwave then set aside.
4. Add the flour, salt, sugars, yeast and spices to the bowl of your stand mixer. I always grate nutmeg but you can use the powdered variety instead. Whisk together and place on your stand mixer.
5. Attach a dough hook to your stand mixer then pour the wet mixture into the dry and mix on low.
6. While mixing pour in the beaten egg and increase speed to medium-low.
7. Once the dough starts coming together drain the raisins, or dried fruit, then sprinkle into the dough and mix on medium-low.
8. Continue mixing until the dough is tacky but does not stick to your fingers.
9. Knead the bread for about 5 minutes on a floured surface. When done the dough will spring back when pressed and have a smooth surface.
10. Place in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic then place in a warm spot to rise. I like to heat my oven to 120F then turn off and let the dough rise there. Your dough will double in size when it’s ready to knead. I will caution that this is a quite enriched dough so it can take up to two hours to rise but it’s TOTALLY worth it!!
11. To make the rolls you’ll portion out pieces of dough a bit larger than a golf ball, 70g if you’re weighing them. Pinch the corners together so one side is smooth and rounded then turn upside down so the smooth side is facing up.
12. Cup the ball with your hands and move in a tight circular motion. This will pull the edge down and in creating a nice roll.
13. You have two choices for the bake. Space the rolls out almost 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet OR you can bake in a baking dish and space them a bit closer together. If you got the baking dish route then you’ll get slightly taller rolls that are stuck together meaning they’ll have soft sides like a pull-apart roll.
14. Cover the rolls with plastic, foil, or a slightly damp cloth and place in a warm area for an hour or so until they puff up and expand. I like to set my oven to 120 then turn it off and let them hang out there.
After the rolls have risen it’s time to set your oven to 375F and make the egg wash. Mix the cream and egg in a bowl then gently brush each roll.
15. Add the water to a bowl then whisk in the flour. You’re looking to make as smooth pipe-able paste so add more flour or water as needed to achieve the correct consistency.
16. Transfer the flour paste to a piping bag with the tip snipped off or fitted with a smaller round tip. Pipe Crosses onto each roll; it’s easiest to do this if you pipe a stripe down the middle of each roll then turn the pan and pipe a perpendicular line. Go Slow so the paste hugs the roll.
Bake at 375F for about 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cover loosely with foil if the tops are getting too brown at the 15-20 minute mark.
Pro Tips for the Best Hot Cross Buns Recipe
- Measure your flour correctly! Adding too much flour to the recipe is the most common mistake. The best, and easiest way to measure flour is by using a scale. If you don’t have one then fluff your flour with a spoon, sprinkle it into your measuring cup, and use a knife to level it off.
- Since the dough is quite enriched I suggest setting your oven to 100F and then letting it rise in a nice cozy environment for a while. Don’t panic if your dough doesn’t start rising right away, you’ll have to wait a bit longer because of all the delicious things we added to the dough.
- I used a more traditional flour paste for the cross but you can skip that step and pipe a cross with a sugar glaze after the rolls have baked and cooled. Just whisk powdered sugar and any liquid together to make the pipe-able glaze.
- You can refrigerate the dough overnight, just punch it down after a couple hours in the fridge then roll it out when you’re ready to use. It will take a bit longer for the second rise since the dough will be cold.
- Make sure to give the rolls enough room to expand if you’re baking in a pan, don’t crowd them together.
- If you’re not a fan or raisins then either sub in another dried Fruit you enjoy, candied citrus, OR skip them.
If you’ve tried this Traditional Hot Cross Buns recipe then don’t forget to leave a rating and let me know how you got on in the comments below, I love hearing from you!
Hot Cross Buns
For the Dough
- 3 2/3 cups all-purpose flour 440g plus more for dusting
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar 50g
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar 50g
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast 1 package
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg freshly grated if possible
- 1/4 tsp cardamom
- 1 tbsp orange zest optional
- 1 egg large, room temp, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup milk 120mL
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract 15mL
- 1/2 cup sour cream 120g
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter 85g
- 2/3 cup raisins or mixed dried fruit
For the Egg Wash:
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp cream
For the Cross:
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour 40g
- 1/4 cup water 60mL
For the Glaze:
- 3 tbsp vanilla extract 45mL
- 1 tbsp apricot jam 15mL
- 1 tbsp water 15mL
For the Rolls:
- Zest the orange and set aside then place the raisins or other dried fruit in a bowl and squeeze half of the orange's juice over them. Toss and warm in the microwave for about 45 seconds. The juice will help plump them up and infuse with flavor. You can also do this step with dark rum if you prefer. Drain before using.
- In a separate bowl add the milk, butter, and sour cream. Microwave until warm to the touch (about 110F) then stir in vanilla and orange zest.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer add the flour, salt, spices, and sugars and yeast then whisk together to combine and set aside.
- Attach a dough hook to the mixer and pour the wet mixture into the dry then run on low. Pour in the lightly beaten egg in while the mixer is running, then sprinkle in the drained raisins and mix until the dough comes together. It's ready to knead when iIt's tacky to the touch but won't stick to your fingers. and it's tacky but doesn't stick to your fingers.
- Dump dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes, sprinkling with additional flour as needed. The dough is ready when it's springy to the touch and has a nice smooth texture. Transfer to a large oiled bowl. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place. This is a very enriched dough so the yeast will take a bit of time to get going but the dough will more than double in size.
- On a lightly-floured surface divide the dough into about 14 equal pieces. If you're weighing on a scale then they'll be around 2.5oz or 70g.
- How to roll rolls: Pinch together the corners of your portioned dough then place the pinched side down on a clean surface so the stretched side is facing up. Cup your hand around the dough and move in a tight circular motion.
- Place the rolls on a parchment-lined baking sheet OR in a large baking dish allowing a little under two inches for the rolls to expand. You can group them more closely in a baking dish if you'd like them to be more of the pull apart rolls with soft sides.
- Cover with plastic, foil of a clean damp cloth and allow to rest in a warm place for about one to two hours for a final rise where they'll almost double in size. Make the flour paste while the rolls are rising.
- Once risen heat oven to 375F and brush the rolls with the egg wash, which you made by whisking the tablespoon of cream with an egg.
For the Flour Paste:
- Whisk the flour and water in a bowl until smooth. You'll want a thicker pipe-able paste so add more flour or water if needed for the correct consistency.
- Transfer the Flour Paste To a piping bag and snip the tip off then pipe crosses onto each of the rolls.
- Bake at 375F for about 25 minutes or until lightly browned on top. If your rolls are getting a bit too brown at the 20 minute mark then cover loosely with foil and continue to bake.
- Heat the apricot jam and Strain into a bowl then whisk in the vanilla and water. Brush the glaze onto the warm rolls then enjoy!
- Measure your flour correctly! Adding too much flour to the recipe is the most common mistake. The best, and easiest way to measure flour is by using a scale. If you don't have one then fluff your flour with a spoon, sprinkle it into your measuring cup, and use a knife to level it off.
- Since the dough is quite enriched I suggest setting your oven to 100F and then letting it rise in a nice cozy environment for a while. Don't panic if your dough doesn't start rising right away, you'll have to wait a bit longer because of all the delicious things we added to the dough.
- Make sure to give the rolls enough room to expand if you're baking in a pan, don't crowd them together.
- If you're not a fan or raisins then either sub in another dried Fruit you enjoy OR skip them.