Photo by Augusta McKenzie

The hot cross buns when they’ve been baked to a golden color and topped with a glaze. The buns are traditionally made for Easter, but can be eaten at any time.

Hot Cross Buns

April 17, 2023

My next recipe is Hot Cross buns, an Easter staple. Don’t let that stop you, though. Hot cross buns can be served any day at any time. 

The buns are characterized by the white T on the top of the bun to represent the cross or crucifix which is why Christians eat them on Easter so they can celebrate Jesus’ resurrection three days after he was crucified. 

However, if you aren’t Christian, all you need to know is they are delicious and served with butter and jam. 

They are a yeast roll, meaning it’s a little more complicated because you have to activate the yeast before using it. When the batter is done, you have to proof and knead the dough, so it’s no small feat to make these. It takes about four hours with proof and baking time included. 

I prefer to eat them for breakfast served with coffee or fruit. They are also pretty customizable. You could add chocolate chips instead of dried fruit in the dough or maybe sprinkles if it’s someone’s birthday because the actual dough recipe without any of the add-ons is pretty basic. 

As a child I liked hot cross buns, but hated the raisins that were mixed into the dough. As a result, I started to mix dried cranberries instead. In my recipe, I also add a glaze. Some make a powdered sugar paste, which makes the cross look better and more aesthetic, but it tends to taste strange which is why I make a glaze instead.  

After you initially glaze the buns, I would add more powdered sugar to them so the glaze becomes thicker and makes a better cross that isn’t dripping everywhere. 

Additionally, make sure you are kneading properly and rising for enough time or else you will have dry and dense buns. My grandma also says that the dough should feel like a baby’s bottom when it’s done, but, if you’re like me and don’t know what this feels like, then just wait for when the dough looks and feels smooth. 

For the Dough:

  1. ¼ cup milk of your choice
  2. ¼ cup sugar
  3. ½ tsp salt
  4. 3 tbsp butter
  5. ¼ cup warm water
  6. 1 package of dry active yeast
  7. 1 egg, beaten
  8. 2 ¼ cups sifted flour 
  9. ½ tsp cinnamon
  10. ¼ tsp nutmeg
  11. ¼ cup dried fruit of choice (currants, cherries, raisins, cranberries)
  12. 2 tbsp of grated orange rind (optional)

For the Glaze/ Cross:

  1. ¾ cups sifted powdered sugar
  2. 1 tbsp milk
  3. ½ tsp vanilla extract


  1. In a saucepan, heat milk till small bubbles form around the edges of the pan, then remove from heat. Add sugar, butter and salt, stirring constantly until the butter is melted. Let cool to room temperature.
  2. Take the warm water and mix in yeast in a large bowl. Mix till the yeast is dissolved and then add the milk mixture.
  3. Add an egg, 1 ½ cups of flour, cinnamon and nutmeg then mix with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth. Add the remaining flour, dried fruit and orange rind and mix till the dough is smooth and doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl.
  4. Turn the dough out on a floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  5. Place in the greased bowl and turn till the dough is fully-greased. Cover bowl with a towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size for an 1- 1 ½ hour
  6. To shape the dough, put the dough on a floured surface and roll it into a 12-inch log. Cut the roll into nine pieces.
  7. Take each piece and shape it into balls by tucking the edges underneath forming a smooth ball.
  8. Arrange the nine balls in a 9-by-9 by-1 ¾ inch pan. Flatten the balls in hand to make two-inch round balls.
  9. Cover the pan with a towel and then let the dough rise in a warm place for about an hour to an hour and a half.
  10.  Preheat the oven to 375 F and bake the buns for 20 to 25 minutes.
  11. While baking, make the glaze. Combine powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract in a bowl. 
  12. Brush the warm buns with glaze and let them cool completely.
  13. Finally, take the remaining glaze and make a cross on the top of each bun. Serve warm.

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