Bake homemade hot cross buns with this easy recipe. Perfect for Easter and beyond. Enjoy the warm, spiced, and sweet flavor in every bite!
Hot cross buns are a beloved Easter tradition that can be enjoyed all year round. These sweet, spiced buns are studded with raisins and currants and topped with a symbolic cross. Making hot cross buns from scratch might seem daunting, but with this easy recipe and some simple tips, you can bake a batch of these delicious buns in no time.
Why This Recipe Works
- Milk and butter add richness and flavor to the dough.
- Proofing the yeast in warm milk helps activate it and ensure the buns rise properly.
- Raisins and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg give the buns a warm, comforting flavor.
- Brushing the buns with a glaze after baking adds sweetness and shine.
The Origin Of Hot Cross Buns
The origin of hot cross buns is somewhat unclear, as they have been a part of various cultures and traditions throughout history. One theory is that they were originally a pagan ritual food made to celebrate the arrival of spring. The cross on the bun may have symbolized the four quarters of the moon or represented the four seasons.
However, hot cross buns are perhaps best known as a traditional Easter food in many Christian cultures, particularly in the UK. In this context, the cross on the bun is said to represent the crucifixion of Jesus, and the spices and dried fruit in the bun symbolize the spices used to embalm his body.
Hot cross buns were traditionally baked on Good Friday but are now enjoyed throughout the Easter season and beyond. They are a beloved treat that has become a staple of many holiday traditions worldwide.
- Milk: Whole milk is the best choice for this recipe. You can also use low-fat or non-dairy milk if preferred.
- Butter: Unsalted butter works best as it allows you to control the salt content. If you only have salted butter, reduce the amount of salt in the recipe accordingly.
- Sugar: This recipe uses brown and white sugar but can be used interchangeably.
- Yeast: This recipe calls for active dry yeast. Make sure to use fresh yeast for the best results. Instant dry yeast can be used instead, but remember that it tends to rise faster.
- All-purpose flour: This is the best choice for this recipe, as it creates a soft, tender texture in the buns. You can also use bread flour for a chewier texture.
- Raisins or currants: These add sweetness and texture to the buns. You can substitute them with other dried fruits like chopped apricots, cranberries, or cherries.
- Spices: Ground cinnamon and nutmeg are used in this recipe. If you don’t have nutmeg, you can use all cinnamon or substitute it with pumpkin pie spice.
- Salt: Use fine kosher or table salt.
- Eggs: Use large room-temperature eggs.
Step By Step Instructions
To Make The Dough
For these delicious hot cross buns, start by heating up 1 cup of milk in a small saucepan over low heat until it simmers ( don’t want it to boil).
Remove the pan from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar. Cool to around 110°F/43°C. Next, whisk in 2¼ teaspoons of instant dry yeast and set it aside until it begins to foam (around 2 to 3 minutes).
To check if your mixture is ready, dip a spoon into it and then run your finger across the back of the spoon. The mixture is done if your finger leaves a clear path that doesn’t fill back in. If the path fills in, you need to cook it a bit longer.
Add the mixture to a mixer with one large room-temperature egg, 6 tablespoons of brown sugar, ½ teaspoon of pure vanilla extract, 2oz of softened butter, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, and ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg.
Mix to combine well and add 1½ cups of all-purpose flour and raisins to the mixture.
Use a dough hook attachment to mix until the dough is smooth.
If you don’t have a mixer, you can still make this recipe using a large mixing bowl and mixing the dough with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. While this method requires a bit of elbow grease, it’s better than using a hand mixer, which will get jammed by getting the dough stuck in its beaters.
Kneading The Dough
Gradually add the remaining flour, a quarter cup at a time, knead the dough on low speed for 3 to 4 minutes, and then check the consistency. Add more flour if necessary until the dough feels soft and moist but not sticky. Continue to knead on low speed for an additional 5 minutes or until the dough clears the sides of the bowl.
To knead hot cross buns dough by hand, transfer it to a floured surface and push down on it with the heel of your hand, folding the dough over and pushing it away with your fingertips. Turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat the process, adding more flour if necessary to prevent sticking. Knead for 5 to 8 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Remove the dough from the dough hook and knead by hand for 30 seconds on a lightly floured surface to bring it together. Place the dough in an oiled bowl.
Cover with a clean kitchen towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, which should take around 60 to 70 minutes.
To Form The Buns
Once the dough has risen, transfer it to a floured surface, press it down, and divide it into 12 pieces. Smooth each piece of dough by pulling it from the top with your fingers, then pinch it underneath and place it on the work surface.
Gently roll it on a floured surface and guide it into a round ball. Place the balls into a greased 9×13 baking dish.
Cover the pan and leave to rise until doubled in size, which should take about 30 to 40 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 350°F/180°C. Mix ½ cup flour with 6 to 8 tbsp water until smooth. Then pipe a line down each row of buns.
Then complete the cross by piping another line across.
Bake the hot cross buns for 20-25 minutes, rotating halfway through, until golden brown on top.
Tent the pan with aluminum foil if you notice the tops browning too quickly.
Brush the simple syrup or warmed, strained apricot jam glaze over the hot cross buns.
Finally, serve the hot cross buns warm or at room temperature.
Hot cross buns are a delicious and versatile treat that can be enjoyed in many different ways. Whether you’re looking for a sweet breakfast, cozy snack, or festive Easter dish, these spiced buns are sure to satisfy.
- Serve them warm or at room temperature and with softened butter.
- Slice them in half and toast them before serving for added texture and flavor.
- Spread them with cream cheese for a creamy, tangy contrast.
- For a sweet and fruity addition, serve them with a side of strawberry preserves, blueberry jam, or marmalade for a sweet and fruity addition.
- Use them to make French toast for a delicious breakfast or brunch dish.
Make Ahead Instructions
Hot cross buns are best served fresh out of the oven, but if you need to make them ahead of time, you can follow these instructions:
- Prepare the dough and shape the buns as directed in the recipe.
- After shaping the buns, cover them tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
- When ready to bake, remove the buns from the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature for about 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven as directed in the recipe, and bake the buns as directed, adding a few minutes to the baking time if necessary.
- Once baked, let the buns cool completely before storing them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.
Alternatively, you can freeze the baked buns for up to 1 month. To freeze, let the buns cool completely, then wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and store them in a freezer-safe container or bag. To serve, let the buns thaw at room temperature for several hours, then reheat in the oven at 350°F/180°C for a few minutes until warmed through.
Erren’s Top Tips
- Use room-temperature eggs in the dough: Using cold eggs in yeast dough could affect the yeast activating.
- To knead by hand, knead the dough on a floured surface for five to eight minutes or until smooth.
- Be careful not to over-knead. Otherwise, your buns will be tough. Stop kneading in the mixer when the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.
- When proofing the dough, place the bowl near a heat source such as an oven or heating vent to speed up rising.
- Don’t skip greasing the bowl – putting oil in the bowl makes it easier to remove the dough after rising and allows it to rise higher as it won’t stick to the sides.
- Give your dough enough time to rise – patience pays off with soft, tender buns!
- Grease your baking dish with butter or oil so that your buns don’t stick!
- Use a piping bag or plastic bag with the corner snipped off to make the cross shape on top of the buns.
- If using apricot jam for the glaze, strain it to remove any large chunks.
- It is best to serve hot cross buns the same day they are baked since they lose flavor and texture the next day after being frozen and thawed.
Storage & Freezing Instructions ❄
- Wrap buns tightly in plastic wrap or foil and store them at room temperature for up to 3 days.
- You can also freeze the buns for up to 3 months. To thaw, let them sit at room temperature for a few hours or microwave for a few seconds before serving.
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Hot Cross Buns
Enjoy the classic Easter treat of hot cross buns with this easy and delicious recipe. Spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, studded with raisins, and topped with a symbolic cross, these buns are perfect for any occasion.
Prep3 hours 20 minutes
Total3 hours 40 minutes
Prevent your screen from going dark
In a small saucepan over low heat, bring milk to a simmer. Remove from heat, stir in the granulated sugar, and set aside to cool to about 110°F/43°C
Whisk the yeast into the warm milk mixture and set aside until it starts to foam (2 or 3 minutes).
Mix the yeast mixture with the eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, butter, salt, and spices until well combined.
Add half of the flour and raisins until smooth in a mixer fitted with the dough attachment.
Add the remaining flour, a quarter cup at a time, while continuing to mix until the mixture forms a dough (you may not need all of the flour).
Knead on low speed for 3 to 4 minutes. Check the consistency and add more flour if necessary (the dough should feel soft and moist, not sticky). Knead on low speed for five more minutes or until the dough clears the sides of the bowl.
On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough by hand for about 30 seconds.
Place into an oiled bowl and cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 60 to 70 minutes).
Transfer the dough to a floured surface, press it down, and divide it into 12 pieces.
Take one piece of dough at a time. Smooth the dough by pulling it from the top with your fingers. Pinch it underneath and place it on the work surface. Gently roll it on a floured surface and guide it into a round ball.
Place the balls into a greased 9×13 baking dish. Cover the pan and leave to rise until doubled in size (about 30 to 40 minutes).
Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.
In a small bowl, mix together the flour and water until you get a smooth paste. Spoon this paste into a piping bag or a plastic bag with the corner snipped off. Pipe a cross shape onto each bun.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating halfway through, until golden brown on top. Tent the pan with aluminum foil if you notice the tops browning too quickly.
Remove from the oven and let the buns cool.
If using apricot jam, heat the jam in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until it is melted and smooth. Strain the jam through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any large chunks.
Brush the simple syrup or strained apricot jam glaze over the hot cross buns.
Serve the hot cross buns warm or at room temperature, brushed with melted butter. Enjoy!
Tips + Notes
If the yeast doesn’t foam, it may be because the milk was too hot, which killed the yeast, or the yeast may have expired. In this case, you should discard the mixture and start with fresh yeast and milk at the correct temperature.
Calories: 272 (14%)| Carbohydrates: 50g (17%)| Protein: 6g (12%)| Fat: 6g (9%)| Saturated Fat: 3g (19%)| Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.5g| Monounsaturated Fat: 1g| Trans Fat: 0.2g| Cholesterol: 40mg (13%)| Sodium: 252mg (11%)| Potassium: 198mg (6%)| Fiber: 2g (8%)| Sugar: 13g (14%)| Vitamin A: 191IU (4%)| Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)| Calcium: 47mg (5%)| Iron: 2mg (11%)
Nutritional Data Disclaimer
Erren’s Kitchen is written and produced for informational intentions only. We are not certified nutritionists, and the nutritional information found on this site has not been assessed or authorized by a nutritionist or the FDA. The nutritional information found in our recipes is offered as an estimate and should not be considered a guarantee or fact. The estimated data is provided as a courtesy and calculated through a third-party online nutritional calculator, spoonacular API. Although we do our best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered rough estimates. Many factors, such as brands or products purchased and the nutritional fluctuations that naturally occur in fresh produce, can alter the effectiveness of the nutritional information in any recipe. Furthermore, various online calculators provide different results depending on their particular algorithms and nutrition fact sources.
To obtain the most precise nutritional information in a provided recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the exact ingredients you are using when preparing the recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.
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