Fruity, spicy delicious homemade hot cross buns! Step by step photos and instructions to help you make the perfect Easter buns this year!
This post was originally published in March 2016 – it has been retested, rephotographed and republished (to make it better for you!) in April 2019
It's nearly Easter! And guess how many Easter Eggs I've already eaten? Trick question. Actually none. Probably because we are still working our way through the mountain of Christmas chocolate we were given. Yes, we are thooooose people that can sit in a room with chocolate and not eat it. How? No idea, but the pull of the miniature Reese's Pieces Eggs is getting stronger. I give it til Wednesday. Until then, let's make my favourite Easter treat...hot cross buns!
Before we start I'd like to point out that making bread is a long process. The whole process from start to finish will take you about 3 hours, maybe longer if you dawdle...as I tend to do. But don't fret! This does include about 2 hours rising time so it's not all hands on.
The ingredient list also looks quite long, but it's all simple stuff. It may seem daunting, but I can assure you, it will be totally worth it. The smell of freshly baked hot cross buns is drool worthy, and they taste SO much better than the buns you get from the supermarket. Especially with a 4 day weekend coming up (YAY)...do it!!
Quick bread making tips:
- Use high grade flour - this is a simple step and a really important one. High grade flour has a higher protein (gluten) content which is what gives the bread its delicate texture. It costs the same as plain flour and makes a world of difference when making bread.
- Use fresh yeast. Don't be pulling an old jar of yeast out of the pantry and expecting it to work wonders. Test it for freshness by dissolving 1 teaspoon sugar in ½ cup warm water (45°C/115°F). Sprinkle 2-¼ teaspoons active dry yeast over it, stir and let stand for 10 minutes, If it's active it will start to bubble and will look sort of foamy. If not, the yeast is dead. If in doubt, throw it out and start again.
- If it's warm where you are, leaving the dough to rise on a sunny windowsill will work perfectly. If it's cold, put it in the hot water cupboard, on top of the fireplace or in the warming draw of your oven.
And to make it even easier for you, I've added step by step photos and a break down of the time involved at the bottom of the post.
So now that the serious stuff is out of the way, let's talk about these buns.
It is a basic sweet bread dough made Easter-y with the addition of cinnamon, mixed spice, nutmeg and is chock-full of currants, raisins & mixed peel. If you are one of those weird people that can't stand dried fruit you can leave it out of these and just have spiced buns. They won't be as good, but that's your call!
The piped crosses on top are also optional but if you leave them off you have to call them Easter Buns instead....beeeeecause I said so. And there would be no hot cross on it...duh. Plus piping is fun. So I guess this step just became compulsory.
These buns are sweet, spicy, fruity and just plain delicious. Smother them in buttah, serve with a coffee and Happy Easter to you my friend. My other favourite way to eat them? Covered in NUTELLA!! It's almost a sin to cover something so perfect in chocolate buuuut...do it anyway. And don't tell my grandmother.
Step by step:
(Note: I used to add the fruit after the first rise as pictured below, I have changed this and now add them at the beginning with all other ingredients, just to keep it simple! The recipe card details how I do it now.)
- Make the dough - 15 minutes
- Knead the dough - 10 minutes
- First rise - 1 ½ hours
- Shape the buns - 5 minutes
- Second rise - 40 minutes
- Pipe the crosses - 5 minutes
- Baking - 20 minutes
Total time: About 3 hours
If you tried and loved this recipe, please leave a comment and a rating below!
Hot Cross Buns
- ½ cup milk
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon active dried yeast
- 2 ½ - 3 cups high grade (or bread) flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 Tablespoon mixed spice
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- ¾ cup raisins or currants (or a mixture)
- ¼ cup mixed peel
- 75 grams butter melted
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the crosses
- ¼ cup flour
- ¼ cup milk
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 3 Tablespoon sugar
- Add the milk, water and brown sugar to a microwave proof jug or small pot and heat until warm to the touch (about 45°C/110°F) Whisk well to dissolve the sugar. Pour into a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, sprinkle the yeast on top, stir in and leave to sit for 5 minutes.
- While you are waiting, combine 2 ½ cups of flour, salt, cinnamon, mixed spice, nutmeg, raisins/currants and mixed peel in a large bowl and whisk together.
- In another small jug melt the butter, add the egg and vanilla and whisk together until all ingredients are incorporated.
- Once the yeast has started to bubble, add the flour mixture and butter mixture to the yeast mixture and using the dough hook attachment on your stand mixer, knead for 7-8 minutes until the dough springs back when you press it. If kneading by hand, combine the dough with a wooden spoon and then turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. Add a little more flour if the dough is really sticky.
- Cover the dough in gladwrap or a clean tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 60-90 minutes or until doubled in size.
- Once the dough has risen, punch it down gently and turn out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Split the dough into 10 evenly sized pieces roll into balls and place on a baking tray lined with a silicone liner or baking paper, so that they are almost touching. Cover with gladwrap that has been lightly sprayed with cooking oil and leave to rise in a warm place for 40 minutes.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
- While the buns are rising, make the mixture for the crosses. In a small bowl whisk together milk, flour and sugar until smooth. Once the buns have risen, pipe the crosses on the buns, by putting the cross mixture into a piping bag or ziplock bag with the corner snipped off. If you don't have a piping bag or ziplock bag, you can carefully drizzle it with a spoon.
- Bake the buns for 20-25 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. While the buns are baking, prepare the glaze by mixing the sugar and water in a small bowl and microwaving until the sugar has dissolved.
- Remove from the oven and brush the buns with the sugar glaze and allow them to cool slightly.
- To serve, slice the buns in half, spread with butter and enjoy!
- Buns will keep in an airtight container for 3 days or can also be frozen. They are definitely best served the day of baking but you can zap them in the microwave or toast them on day 2 or 3 and they're almost as good!
This is the best hot cross bun recipe I've used. Really simple and straightforward (especially if you use a bread maker for the dough like I do 😉 )
This recipe yields a bun that reminds me of the hot cross buns of my childhood, and is far superior to any you will buy from the supermarket.
Ange. T says
I just made these for Easter lunch. Recipe is super easy to follow, well written, my buns came out perfect! Totally worth waiting all morning for! My crosses were a bit faded, so maybe I’ll make the mixture a bit thicker next time. Thanks Laura, I am never disappointed with your easy delicious recipes. Happy Easter ☺️
This is my 3rd year of making hot cross buns using this recipe and I'm won over. This year I grated whole nutmeg (because I had no ground nutmeg) and I'm sure the flavour was enhanced. I like to thicken the mixture for the crosses. Other than that thus is one of my fave recipes.
Kirstin Gooding says
I'm about to put my first ever batch of hot cross buns into the oven. I'm wondering what an alternative could be for covering the buns to rise with glad wrap. I try very hard to not use glad wrap & am just wondering what you could use instead. Any ideas? I live overseas & often turn to your recipes for some good kiwi food. Thanks!!!
Hi Kirstin, a clean tea towel works well too