Hot Cross Bun Recipe: English Easter Buns


Articolo disponibile anche in: Italian

Soft, fragrant and rich in raisins, Hot Cross Bun recipe, with their distinctive cross on each loaf, are the quintessential English Easter pastry. Served hot with a delicious glaze, they are so good, it would be a shame to bake them only for Good Friday!

Easter hot cross buns
Easter Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns History and Origins

The earliest ancestors of the hot cross bun are very ancient, with similar breads found as far back as the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, and even the Druids. Hot cross buns were offered to the Germanic goddess Eostre, a goddess of many aspects, fertility, spring, life, and light. She is depicted surrounded by various birds, small animals and flowers, and it is said that the Anglo-Saxon name for Easter is derived from her name. The cross on the bun is said to represent rebirth after winter, while the four quarters represent the phases of the moon.

In fact, they were widespread in pagan times, and Christianity, like many other traditions, adopted this custom and used it to “facilitate” the transition of pagans to the Christian religion.

Even in the Christian religion they became very popular, in fact it would be better to call them holy. In the 16th century, Queen Elizabeth banned their sale and production outside of Good Friday, funerals and Christmas. If anyone was caught selling them outside these occasions, all the sandwiches had to be given to the poor. However, they were still homemade prepared, partly because hot cross buns were thought to have magical and healing powers.

It was believed that the sandwiches prepared on Good Friday and hung from the rafters in the houses would last the whole year without going mouldy, thus keeping evil spirits away. In the event of serious illness, even a small morsel would be enough to make the sick person well. In Ireland, on Good Friday, they were eaten between friends whilst reciting a rhyme to ensure that the friendship would last into the following year.

As for the hot cross buns we know today, the recipe is attributed to a monk from St Albans Cathedral who made them in the 14th century to give to the poor. Eaten every Good Friday, they are a very important symbol, the cross representing the cross on which Jesus died, while the spices represent the spices used to preserve his body.

The Best Hot Cross Bun Recipe

Hot Cross Buns are delicious sweet rolls with sultanas, flavoured with nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice (Jamaica pepper) and covered in a sugar glaze while still warm. But their most distinctive feature is a white cross on each roll, made from a mixture of water and flour. Typical of the Easter period, they are a delicious way to start the celebrations of Good Friday. There are many variations on the dough, you can find recipes with sultanas or white grapes, dried cranberries combined with sultanas.

These are the original variations, but you can also find recipes with chocolate chips, cocoa, triple chocolate, coconut, apple or carrot, not to mention one with maple syrup and bacon. There are also many variations for the frosting, and I have seen recipes with almond extract in the pastry. In short, there is something for all tastes, but I suggest you try these delicious buns as they are and then experiment with the variations you prefer.

How to Make Hot Cross Buns

Prepare all the ingredients as usual, and soak the sultanas and blueberries in a little warm water. This recipe, can of course be made with a planetary machine or by hand. If you use the latter method, I still recommend that you start the dough in a bowl with a spatula and then, when it is less liquid, continue on the work surface if you like. When the dough is ready, mix the milk at room temperature (38–40 °C) with the yeast and the white sugar and leave tost and for 5 minutes so that the yeast is activated; you will know when a little foam starts to form on the surface.

Add the brown sugar, butter, vanilla extract, eggs, salt, spices and 130g flour. Start kneading with the kneading hook (or leaf) on low speed for a second, then gradually add the rest of the flour and the well-drained sultanas and blueberries. Taking care to scrape down the sides of the bowl as you add the flour.

Knead until the dough, although still sticky, comes away easily from the sides of the bowl. If it is too sticky, add a tablespoon of flour at a time, until the desired result is obtained. Take the dough and knead it by hand on a floured surface, stretching and folding it, turning and repeating a few times on each side. Grease a bowl with vegetable oil, place the dough in it and turn so that it is greased on all sides. Cover with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and leave to rise for 2 hours.

Grease a 22×33 cm cake tin or line with greaseproof paper. Take the dough and press it with the palm of your hand to squeeze out the air. Weigh the dough and divide by 16 to make 16 equal balls. Take each piece of dough and shape it into a ball, pinching the edges at the bottom to seal it. Place the balls in the baking tin as you make them. When ready, cover with a kitchen towel and leave to rise for another hour.

Heat the oven to 200 °C.

While the oven is heating up, prepare the flour and water mixture; it must be thick so that it does not drip and melt during baking. To make the crosses, you can use an icing bag with a medium smooth nozzle, line the bag with greaseproof paper or, as I did, use a 60ml syringe that you can buy in a pharmacy. This has a wider opening than the classic syringe because it does not have a needle.

To form the crosses, roll the lines one by one, first horizontally and then vertically, preferably in one go, so that the lines remain precise and clean.

Bake for 18–20 minutes. While they are baking, prepare the glaze with the orange juice and icing sugar. As soon as they are done, remove from the oven, cover with the icing while still hot. Preparing the Easter hot cross buns is really easy now serve them still warm and Happy Good Friday!

Discover other delicious Easter recipes such as the Polish Makowiec or Lebanese Sfouf.

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Hot Cross Bun Recipe: English Easter Buns

Soft, spiced buns kneaded with rasin and cranberry topped with luscious orange icing, typical of the English Easter breakfast.
Porzioni 15 buns
Tempo di Preparazione 20 minutes
Tempo di Cottura 20 minutes
Leavening 3 hours
Tempo totale 3 hours 40 minutes



  • 185 ml of Milk whole at 40 °C
  • 7 g of Instant Yeast
  • 4 g of Caster Sugar
  • 100 g of Cane Sugar
  • 70 g of Butter soft
  • ½ tsp of Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Eggs
  • 6 tsp of Salt
  • 1 – ¼ tsp of Cinnamon powder (2g)
  • ½ tsp of Nutmeg powder (1g)
  • ½ tsp of Allspice powder (1g)
  • 500 g of Bread Flour
  • 70 g of Raisins
  • 70 g of Currant

Flour Cross

  • 65 g of All Purpose Flour
  • 6 tsp of Water


  • 45 ml of Orange Juice
  • 120 g of Powdered Sugar normal or vanilla


Dough Preparation

  • Whisk 185 ml of Milk, 7 g of Instant Yeast and 4 g of Caster Sugar in the bowl of the mixer. Let the mixture stand for about 5 minutes, or until it becomes foamy.
  • Add 100 g of Cane Sugar, 70 g of Butter, ½ tsp of Vanilla Extract, 2 Eggs, 6 tsp of Salt, 1 – ¼ tsp of Cinnamon, ½ tsp of Nutmeg, ½ tsp of Allspice and 1 cup flour (125 g). Mix on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then add the remaining flour, 70 g of Raisins and 70 g of Currant.
  • Beat at low speed until the dough forms. When it starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl, knead for about 2 minutes more.
  • The dough should be a little sticky and soft. If it is too sticky and does not pull away from the sides of the bowl, add more flour, a tablespoon at a time.
  • Leave the dough in the mixer and knead for a further 3 minutes, or knead by hand on a lightly floured surface for 3 minutes.
  • Lightly grease a large bowl with oil and place the dough in the bowl, turning to grease all sides. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen cloth or plastic wrap. Leave the dough to rise for 2 hours in a warm place or in the oven with the light on.
  • Grease a 23×33 cm baking tin. You can also bake the rolls in a cast-iron pan or line the baking tray with baking paper.
  • Divide it into 15 equal pieces and form them into balls, first flattening with your palm, then taking the flaps and bringing them towards the centre, forming a ball again, repeat the procedure with all 15 and place them in the oven dish.
  • Cover the baking tin with a clean kitchen towel and allow rising in the oven (or outside if the temperature permits) for 1 hour.

Dough for Flour Cross

  • In a bowl mix 65 g of All Purpose Flour with about 6 tsp of Water, the mixture should be thick but can be easily squeezed out of a bag or syringe.
  • Preheat the oven to 200 °C.
  • Put the flour mixture into a syringe and draw crosses on the balls. Try to draw straight lines from side to side in a single movement, both lengthwise and crosswise, to create beautiful, perfect crosses.
  • Bake the buns for 20 minutes, if you see that they are browning too much, cover them with foil.
  • Once cooked, take them out of the oven and let them cool for a few minutes. Meanwhile, mix 45 ml of Orange Juice with 120 g of Powdered Sugar. Once the glaze is ready, drizzle over the rolls without letting them cool and serve while still warm.


To store them, keep them covered, and they will keep outside for 1–2 days or in the fridge for a week.
Chef: Taira by R.J.
Calorie: 276kcal
Course: Bread and Leavened, Breakfast
Cuisine: English
Keyword: Baked Sweet, Easter
Difficoltà: Easy
Temperatura: 200 °C/392 °F


Serving: 94g | Calories: 276kcal (14%) | Carbohydrates: 52g (17%) | Protein: 6g (12%) | Fat: 5.2g (8%) | Sugar: 21g (23%)

Le informazioni nutrizionali mostrate sono una stima fornita da un calcolatore nutrizionale online. Non deve essere considerato un sostituto del consiglio di un nutrizionista professionista.

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