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Easy Hot Cross Buns

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Easy Hot Cross Buns – lightly spiced and studded with juicy sultanas and shreds of orange peel. Beautifully soft and fluffy Hot Cross Buns every time with easy step by step instructions.

Delicious warm from the oven or toasted the next day. Simply spread with butter, they really are the best Hot Cross Buns.

Super easy to make and so much better than shop bought – a homemade traditional hot cross bun is hard to beat.

A pile of freshly baked Easy Hot Cross Buns.

Hands on time is only about 20 minutes with a full batch done and dusted in just under 3 hours. You’re free to get on with something else as your dough rises and bakes. And there you have it, Easy Hot Cross Buns.

Yeasted sweet buns are among my favourite baked treats. We indulge in Healthy Wholemeal Hot Cross Buns at Easter and my Tear and Share Iced Buns at Christmas. But that definitely doesn’t mean the rest of the year is bun free. I can’t think of any good reason not to serve up a batch of my Belgian Buns or Chelsea Buns. Whatever the date !

A buttered bun, a butter dish and knife with buns in the background.

I hope you enjoy making and eating our Homemade Hot Cross Buns as much as we do.

A dozen glazed spiced buns on a cooling tray.

What equipment do I need ?

  • Optional: A stand mixer – I use my KitchenAid stand mixer to knead the dough as it makes light work of kneading. Don’t worry if you don’t have a stand mixer. You’ll need a bit of elbow grease but you can easily knead by hand.
  • A large baking tray / sheet – lined with baking parchment.
  • A piping bag or a plastic food bag snipped at one corner.
  • Pastry brush

What ingredients do I need ?

Mixed spice, butter, flour, milk, apricot jam, yeast, marmalade, salt, sugar, and sultanas on a wooden table.

For ingredient quantities, scroll down to the recipe card.

  • Bread flour – I use Marriage’s white bread flour for its high gluten content, essential for a soft and fluffy bun.
  • Yeast – I prefer Dove’s Farm instant yeast (often called fast action yeast or quick yeast) because it’s easy to use.
  • Sugar – only three tablespoons in the dough as there is plenty of sweetness in the sultanas, marmalade and sticky glaze.
  • Mixed spice – I used Schwartz mixed spice. If you’re outside the UK, you can substitute with pumpkin pie spice.
  • Salt – I used sea salt.
  • Butter – to enrich the dough and give it flavour.
  • Milk – essential for delivering a lovely soft bun.
  • Marmalade or candied peel – I’ve used chopped marmalade as it’s much softer than candied peel and actually tastes of orange.
  • Dried fruit – I like to use sultanas, traditionally currants were used.
  • Apricot jam or marmalade – gives an extra sugary hit as well as giving a golden colour to the finished Hot Cross Buns.

How to make Easy Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns are much easier to make than you might think. If you have a stand mixer, it’s even easier – I use my Kitchen Aid.

Make your dough

4 step process showing milk pored into ingredients in a KitchenAid, initial mixing, sultanas being added and finished dough.
  • First, warm the milk in the microwave for a minute so the liquid temperature is tepid to warm. At this temperature the yeast is encouraged to start working – too high a temperature will kill the yeast.
  • Add your dough ingredients, except the sultanas, to the mixer bowl of a free standing mixer fitted with dough hook. Knead on a low setting for about 2 minutes.
  • Add the sultanas and continue on a low setting until your dough is smooth and elastic.
  • Mixing by hand in a bowl – stir the dough ingredients, except the sultanas, together until they form a ball. Then knead for about 4 minutes. Start adding the sultanas into the dough a little at a time as you continue kneading until smooth and elastic.
  • Leave your dough to rise in a warm place without any draughts until it has almost doubled in size. This should take about 1½ hours.
2 step process to show freshly made dough and risen dough.

Shape your Hot Cross Buns

  • Transfer your dough onto a lightly oiled work surface. Use oil not flour as you want your bread to be nice and soft. If you were to use flour, this becomes incorporated into your dough and then absorbs moisture. The result of this will be drier hot cross buns.
  • I don’t knock back the dough as such. Removing the dough from your bowl and then shaping your buns will take enough air out of it. Why punch all that air out after you’ve patiently waited for your dough to rise ?
4 step process showing rolling dough into a log, cutting into 12, weighing at 100g and shaping into Hot Cross Buns.
  • Shape your dough into a rough log and divide into 12 or 16 pieces. You’re looking for approximately 100g for large hot cross buns or 75g to 80g for standard. I like to weigh the dough pieces but divide into 12 or 16 equal portions by eye if you prefer. The more equally sized your dough pieces, the more evenly baked your hot cross buns.
  • Using a cupped hand, roll each piece of dough on the work surface to form a ball.
  • Place the dough balls on a large lined baking sheet fairly close together and flatten each one a little.
  • Cover with greased clingfilm / plastic wrap or tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes.
4 step process showing dough balls on a lined baking tray, flattening the balls, making Hot Cross paste and risen buns.

How to make your cross on a Hot Cross Bun

  • Mix flour and water to a thick soft smooth paste. To check your paste’s consistency, it should drip slowly off a spoon.
  • Spoon into a piping bag if you have one. No need to worry if you don’t as a plastic food bag snipped at one corner does a nice job.
  • Now pipe the lines for your crosses one full line at a time. Finish all the vertical lines before switching to the horizontal lines.
4 step process showing piping hot cross paste on rows of buns, vertically and then horizontally.

Bake

  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown and then brush with glaze whilst hot.
  • Place on a cooling rack.
4 step process showing Hot Cross Buns in the oven, baked on a tray, being glazed and finished buns.

Serve with a cup of tea or coffee and enjoy a warm Hot Cross Bun spread with butter. If not eating warm from the oven, try toasting a one.

A pile of Easy Hot Cross Buns in a basket with a dish of butter and a knife and a split bun buttered.

How to toast Hot Cross Buns

You may be thinking …. “What ?”
Or possibly remembering the times you lost a chunk of a Hot Cross Bun in your toaster ? Or burnt a bun’s edges to a blackened cinder ?
Begin at the beginning – use a sharp bread knife to slice a nice clean cut, especially if using a toaster. A clean cut means you’re less likely to have chunks of hot cross bun break off and burn in the toaster.
But the best way to toast hot cross buns is to place them under a medium to hot grill. You will get a much more even toasting and it’s also much easier to see when they’re done.
If you do use a toaster, use the lowest setting because of the bun’s high sugar content and watch like a hawk.

A pile of Spiced Buns with a dish of butter and a knife.

How long do they keep ?

Fresh is definitely best. Having said that, Easy Hot Cross Buns will keep for 2 to 3 days stored in an airtight container. You can refresh your buns and serve them warm – simply bake for 10 minutes at 160°C / 320°F Fan. Or why not make my take on a bread and butter pudding – Hot Cross Bun Pudding ?

Recipe FAQs

What is the cross in hot cross buns made from ?

The cross on a hot cross bun is usually made from a thick soft flour paste. Crosses on spiced spice buns can be traced back to the 12th century. Some maintain an Anglican monk marked spiced fruit buns with a knife on Good Friday to represent Jesus’ cross. Today, you can find a variety of flavoured hot cross buns featuring crosses piped with icing, marzipan or chocolate.

Why are my hot cross buns not fluffy ?

Two most common reasons:
Using the wrong type of flour. You need an extra strong bread flour which has a higher protein content and therefore more gluten. As a result, the dough holds together well but is also very elastic. Perfect for making soft and fluffy hot cross buns.
Under kneading. For extra strong bread flour to give soft and fluffy hot cross buns you must knead your dough. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. Not sufficiently working the dough and stretching the gluten is likely to deliver a dense or tough hot cross bun.


A glazed bun on a cooling rack with more buns in the background.

Can I freeze Hot Cross Buns ?

Yes, you can ! Hot Cross Buns freeze really well.
Individually open freeze on a tray and then transfer to a freezer bag or sealed container.
Once frozen they will keep for up to three months.

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A pile of Easy Hot Cross Buns with a dish of butter and a knife.
A pile of Hot Cross Buns.

Easy Hot Cross Buns

Easy Hot Cross Buns – lightly spiced and studded with juicy sultanas and shreds of orange peel. Beautifully soft and fluffy Hot Cross Buns every time with easy step by step instructions. Delicious warm from the oven or toasted the next day. Simply spread with butter, they really are the best Hot Cross Buns.
5 from 42 votes
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Course: Afternoon Tea, Breakfast, Sweet Treat
Cuisine: British
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Proving time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
Servings: 16
Calories: 209kcal
Author: Sarah James

Equipment

  • Optional: A stand mixer – I use my KitchenAid stand mixer to knead the dough as it makes light work of kneading.
  • 1 large baking tray / sheet
  • piping bag or a plastic food bag snipped at one corner
  • Pastry brush

Ingredients

Sweet Dough

  • 500 grams strong white bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 3 tbs caster sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 75 g softened butter
  • 300 ml milk
  • 2 tbs marmalade or mixed peel
  • 150 g sultanas

Hot Cross Paste

  • 90 g plain flour
  • 5 tbs water

Glaze

  • 2 tbs sieved apricot jam or marmalade
  • 2 tsp hot water

Instructions

Make your dough

  • First, warm the milk in the microwave for one minute so the liquid temperature is tepid to warm.
  • Place all the dough ingredients, except the sultanas, in the bowl of an electric mixer or a large mixing bowl.
  • In an electric mixer, fit dough hook and mix for approximately 1 to 2 minutes on slow speed number 1.
  • Add the sultanas, then mix for 8 to 10 minutes on slow speed number 2.
  • For hand mixing, stir together until ingredients form a ball and then knead for about 4 minutes. Now add the sultanas into the dough a little at a time and knead until smooth and elastic. This generally takes about 10 minutes.
  • Place your dough in a large greased mixing bowl and cover. Leave to rise in a warm place until dough has doubled in size – about 1 ½ hours.

Shape your Easy Hot Cross Buns

  • Transfer the dough to an oiled work surface and stretch out into a log shape and divide into 12 or 16 equal pieces. Aim for approximately 100g for large hot cross buns or 75g to 80g for standard size.
  • Using a cupped hand, roll each piece of dough on the work surface to form a ball.
  • Place dough balls on a large lined baking sheet. Keep the buns fairly close together and use your fingers to flatten each one a little.
  • Cover with a cloth or greased cling film.
  • Leave to rise for approximately 45 minutes until well risen.

Make your Hot Cross Paste

  • Sift the flour into a bowl, add the water and mix well until you have a smooth paste.

Bake and glaze

  • Preheat your oven to 400°F / 350°F Fan / 200°C / 180°C Fan / Gas Mark 6
  • When your hot cross buns are well risen, pipe on the paste to form the crosses. Pipe the vertical lines before switching to the horizontal lines. As an alternative to piping, use a spoon to “drizzle” the crosses over your hot cross buns.
  • Place in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown.
  • Whilst buns are hot from the oven, brush with a glaze of sieved apricot jam (or marmalade) and hot water. Leave your now shiny hot cross buns to cool on a wire rack.

Notes

  • Nutrition information is for a standard size Easy Hot Cross Bun.
  • Mixed Spice – Pumpkin Pie Spice is a good alternative to mixed spice.
  • Your Hot Cross Buns will keep for 2 to 3 days stored in an airtight container.
  • Refresh your buns and serve them warm by baking them for 10 minutes at 160 C Fan.
  • Horizontally slice and toast a hot cross bun under a medium to hot grill. Or use a toaster on a low setting for a couple of minutes. Whichever toasting method you use, take care as the sugar content in hot cross buns makes them brown more easily.
  • Hot Cross Buns freeze well. Open freeze on a tray before transferring to a freezer bag or sealed container. Will keep for up to three months.
  • Nutrition information is approximate and meant as a guideline only.
Calories: 209kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 12mg | Sodium: 115mg | Potassium: 146mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 156IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 2mg
Recipe Rating




Neil

Tuesday 26th of March 2024

Shirgar butter !! Not easy come by :-)

Sarah James

Tuesday 26th of March 2024

Hi Neil, I did use local butter but you can use any butter in the recipe, Sarah.

Andrea

Saturday 25th of February 2023

This sound marvelous with the marmalade in them. I can't wait to try these.

Dannii

Saturday 25th of February 2023

My kids had so much fun making these. We will definitely be making them again before Easter.

Sarah James

Wednesday 1st of March 2023

Thanks Danni, my kids used to like piping on the crosses plus a bit of kneading. Enjoy your hot cross bun baking, Sarah.

Jess

Saturday 25th of February 2023

I have always wanted to make this but have been too intimidated. Your step-by-step directions give me all the confidence I need!

Sarah James

Wednesday 1st of March 2023

That's great to hear Jess, do let me know how you get on, Sarah.

Whitney

Saturday 25th of February 2023

I love that tip to use the apricot jam for the glaze, that's what I am missing!! Thanks for sharing!