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Hot Cross Buns

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Ingredients

  • 2 Packets (4 1/2 teaspoons) Yeast
  • 1/2 Cup + 6 Tablespoons (Divided) Warm Water
  • 1 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 1/3 Cup Butter
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 (Room temperature) Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup Raisins
  • 6 Cups + 1/2 Cup (Divided) All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons Orange Juice

Hot Cross Buns

An easy to make recipe for the classic Easter treat!

1 Hour (+ 2-3 Hours Rise Time)

Serves: 32 Rolls

Medium

This decorated, sweet dinner roll-style bread bursts with the flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, and plump raisins, making it a cherished tradition for Easter morning indulgence.

Hot Cross Buns Ingredients

I’ve always wanted to try Grandma’s Hot Cross Buns recipe ever since I inherited her recipe box. But, I’ve been too intimidated every Easter. This year, as I mustered up the courage, I stumbled upon a revelation: Hot Cross Buns are essentially sweet, spiced dinner rolls. That realization made everything click. If you can make dinner rolls (and you definitely can!), you can surely make these. With their iconic appearance and rich flavor, they’re bound to impress at Easter or any breakfast spread year-round.

Save Some for Later

Grandma Jackie’s recipe actually yields 2 batches of Hot Cross Buns, each making 12-16 rolls. You can easily halve the recipe to make just one batch. Alternatively, if you follow the listed amounts and end up with two batches, you can freeze one batch for later. After the first rise and shaping the dough into balls, simply place one batch on a tray or baking dish and freeze for a few hours. Once frozen, transfer the dough balls to a freezer bag for storage. They’ll keep for up to six months. When you’re ready to bake, let the frozen dough thaw at room temperature before proceeding with the recipe.

Frosting and Decoration

Traditionally, there are two ways to decorate Hot Cross Buns. Grandma’s method, as noted on her recipe card, involves cutting a cross on the top with a sharp knife just before baking, then piping frosting over the slashes once the buns are out of the oven. In the instructions below, I’ve included an alternative version where you pipe a flour paste onto the buns before baking and then apply a sugary glaze over the entire bun. Both methods yield delicious results!

I hope this recipe makes it easy for you to try your hand at making Hot Cross Buns without feeling intimidated. They’re definitely worth the effort, and I plan on making them every Easter from now on, perhaps even throughout the year. If you give them a try, please share your thoughts in the comments and tag me on Instagram (@bdhbakes) with a picture of your creation!

Hot Cross Buns Recipe Card
Hot Cross Buns Recipe Card Back

Steps:

  • Heat Milk, Butter, Sugar and Salt  

    In a medium sauce pan, add the milk, butter, sugar and salt. Heat over medium heat stirring frequently, until the butter is melted and the mixture is steaming. Do not let it come to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool while you start the next step.

    Hot Cross Buns Milk and Butter
    Hot Cross Buns Milk and Butter Mixture Heated
  • Bloom Yeast 

    In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, combine the yeast and warm water with a pinch of sugar. Whisk to combine and set aside for 5-10 minutes or until the mixture becomes very frothy.

    Hot Cross Buns Bloom Yeast
  • Being to Make the Dough 

    In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, add the milk mixture, raisins, nutmeg, cinnamon, and 2-3 cups of the flour. Mix well with the paddle attachment.

    Hot Cross Buns Start Dough
    Hot Cross Buns Dough First Mix
  • Add Eggs and Yeast 

    To the same bowl, add the eggs and yeast mixture. Mix well.

    Hot Cross Buns Add Eggs & Yeast
  • Add Remaining Flour 

    Add the remaining flour a cup (or so) at a time. I added the first amount and mixed with the paddle attachment and then switched to the dough hook. With the addition of each amount of flour, mix well until there is no visible dry flour before adding the next amount.

    Hot Cross Buns Add Remaining Flour
  • Knead the Dough 

    Once all the flour is incorporated, knead the dough with the stand mixer on medium high for about 8-10 minutes. Then, dump the dough out onto a floured surface and finish by hand until you have a smooth dough. If you're not using a stand mixer, you can do this step entirely by hand.

    Hot Cross Buns Knead in Mixer
    Hot Cross Buns Done With Mixer
    Hot Cross Buns Knead by Hand
    Hot Cross Buns Smooth Dough
  • First Rise 

    Place the dough in a lightly greased large bowl or proofing container and allow to sit at room temperature until it doubles. This should take about 1-2 hours.

    Hot Cross Buns Risen
  • Shape the Dough 

    After the first rise, punch the dough down and tip it onto a lightly floured surface. Split it into two separate amounts. With each half of the dough, split it into the amount of buns you'd like to have. 12 or 16 works well. Try to ensure each amount of dough is roughly the same. Form each portion into a ball and pinch the seam. Place each bun, seam side down, in a lightly greased 13" x 9" baking dish. (If you are only baking one batch, you can roll the second batch into balls and freeze to bake later.) Once all the buns are formed and in the baking dish, cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and allow to rise again until doubled - about one hour. Preheat the oven to 400º.

    Hot Cross Buns Prepped for Freezing
    Hot Cross Buns Prepped For Baking
  • Create Cross Paste 

    While the buns are doing their second rise, we can make the paste for the cross. In a small bowl, add 1/2 cup of flour and about 6 Tablespoons water. Whisk until a smooth paste forms. Cover and set aside until the dough is ready to bake.

    Hot Cross Buns Flour Paste
  • Decorate and Bake 

    Once the buns have doubled in size, they are ready to bake. Before we pop them in the oven, we need to add the flour paste cross. Take you flour paste mixture and add it to a piping bag (or large Ziploc) and snip the very sip off the end. (No need for a piping tip!) Pipe the flour paste over each bun to create a cross. Once all the buns have crosses on them, they are ready to go into the preheated oven.

    Hot Cross Buns Second Rise
    Hot Cross Buns With Crosses
  • Bake for 20 - 25 Minutes 

    Bake the buns for 20 - 25 minutes or until golden brown. To ensure even baking, turn the baking pan 180º halfway through the baking.

  • Make Frosting 

    While the buns are baking, make the frosting by whisking together 1 Cup of powdered sugar and 3 Tablespoons orange juice. Alternatively, you can use milk instead of orange juice, but do add some flavoring such as vanilla extract.

    Hot Cross Buns Make Glaze
    Hot Cross Buns Glaze Ready
  • Frost and Eat 

    Once the buns are done and out of the oven, allow them to cool slightly for a minute or two and the frost them with the powdered sugar mixture. Apply the glaze with a pastry brush, offset spatula, or just pour over. Eat immediately!

    Hot Cross Buns Baked and Ready

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