Kitchen

Hot Cross Buns – Spend With Pennies

I love the holidays for all of the special treats we don’t enjoy the rest of the year.

These homemade Hot Cross Buns are a special Easter tradition. Soft fluffy spiced rolls with a distinctive cross on the top an Easter favorite with special meaning.

Yeast bread is not difficult to master, just a little patience and time are all that is required. The reward will be worth the wait!

Hot Cross Bun on a plate

What are Hot Cross Buns?

Traditionally made and served on Good Friday, hot cross buns are yeast-based rolls with warm spices and often a shiny glaze on the outside. A cross made from flour paste signifies the cross Jesus died on and the fragrant spices represent the honoring of his body after His death.

This easy bread recipe is made with aromatic spices and studded with raisins (or currants) and is a classic heirloom of a recipe from an old church cookbook of mine.

Ingredients to make hot cross buns labeled

Ingredients & Variations

DOUGH The dough for these rolls is a simple yeast dough with spices. Once it’s risen, we knead in some raisins or currants before forming rolls.

SPICES Cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg are the traditional spices to use for hot cross buns. Freshly grated lemon or orange zest can be added for a lighter, citrusy taste.

ADD-INS Raisins and currants can be used interchangeably or in combination. Toasted nuts, pieces of candied orange peel, dried cranberries, or toasted coconuts can be mixed into the dough.

PRO TIP: Avoid overstuffing the rolls with ingredients so the flavors don’t overwhelm the spices.

How to Make Hot Cross Buns

As with most leavened bread, there are a couple of steps to this recipe. But the end result is moist and beautifully crossed buns.

  1. Prepare the dough according to the recipe below.
  2. Knead and add raisins. Form into rolls.
  3. Pipe a flour cross on the rolls and let rise.
  4. Brush with egg wash & bake until golden.

Four image showing the steps to prepare Hot Cross Buns for baking

How to Make the Crosses on Hot Cross Buns

  • Make the flour paste and place it in a piping bag (or plastic bag with a small corner cut off).
  • Pipe a cross across each hot cross bun and let the rolls rise another 20-25 minutes.

TIP: As you pipe the cross, go slowly to allow the flour mixture to run down between the edges of the rolls a bit.

Hot Cross Buns cooling on a baking rack

Storage

Keep leftover hot cross buns in a covered container at room temperature for up to 3 days. They’re best baked on the day of serving.

If they’ve sat a bit, we heat them in the microwave to warm and soften.

More Easter Baking

Did your family love these homemade Hot Cross Buns? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below! 

Hot Cross Buns

These sweet and lightly spiced buns with a distinctive cross on the top are the perfect treat for Easter or spring!


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  • Place milk in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat just until bubbles begin to form at the edges (the temperature should reach about 181°F.) Do not boil.

  • Pour the milk into a bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl) and add ½ cup sugar and salt. Whisk to combine. Add butter and stir until the butter is melted. Let the mixture cool to 110°F (or lukewarm).

  • Meanwhile, combine yeast, ½ cup warm water (110°F), and 1 teaspoon sugar in a bowl. Let sit 10 minutes or until foamy.

  • Add the yeast to the milk mixture. Whisk in 2 whole eggs (reserve the third egg for brushing the rolls before baking), cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.

  • Add 2 cups of flour and mix with a dough hook (see notes to mix by hand). Continue adding more flour until it forms a dough that holds together and isn’t too sticky (you will use about 4-5 cups of flour total). Turn the mixer to medium-low and let it knead for 4-5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Add raisins or currants and orange zest if using and knead again to incorporate.

  • Place the dough into a large oiled bowl and cover with a kitchen towel.

  • Set in a warm place and let rise until doubled in size, about 90 minutes.

  • Punch the dough down and form into 12 even-sized rolls. Place the rolls in a greased 9×13 pan and let rise 20-25 minutes.

  • While the dough is rising, combine the flour and water for the cross. It should be thick enough to hold its shape. Brush rolls with egg wash and place the flour mixture in a piping bag and pipe a cross on each roll.

  • While the rolls are rising, preheat the oven to 400°F.

  • Bake for 24-26 minutes or until cooked through.

If you do not have a stand mixer, mix the flour in with a large spoon. Once mixed, turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 8-10 minutes or until smooth. Add raisins or currants and knead again to incorporate. Proceed with the recipe as directed above.
*You may not need all of the water for the flour cross, you want it thick enough to pipe and hold its shape.
I love to add a sweet glaze once they’ve baked. It looks beautiful and tastes great but keep in mind that the glaze will make the rolls slightly sticky.
Optional Glaze: Boil 3 tablespoons water and 3 tablespoons sugar in a small saucepan. Brush over the warm rolls.

Calories: 273, Carbohydrates: 50g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 38mg, Sodium: 215mg, Potassium: 179mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 9g, Vitamin A: 189IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 37mg, Iron: 2mg

(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)

Course Bread, Breakfast

Cuisine American

Hot Cross Buns with a title
Hot Cross Buns sliced open with a pat of butter with a title
Hot Cross Buns with a title
Top image - Hot Cross bun with a pat of butter. Bottom image - Hot Cross buns cooling on a baking rack with a title

Recipe from a homemade church cookbook.

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