Hot Cross Buns Revisited


Hot Cross Buns are traditionally made during Lent.  Full of spices and raisins with a cross on top of the rolls, they are eagerly awaited during the year.  Hot cross buns are a welcome and tasty staple of Lent.   According to Wikipedia: “English folklore includes many superstitions surrounding hot cross buns. One of them says that buns baked and served on Good Friday will not spoil or mold during the subsequent year.”  Well, in my house they won’t last that long!

I posted these Hot Cross Buns five years ago but feel it’s worth repeating this season.

If you’ve never baked with a product by Sun-Maid called bakers raisins, you’ve missed the perfect raisin for baking.  They are moist and plump and don’t need any soaking to use.  A friend of mine introduced me a few years ago and I have been a fan every since.  I have included instructions for regular raisins that should be soaked to plump them before using in the Hot Cross Buns.  Two packages of raisins for Hot Cross BunsYou can see the difference in the photo below.  Regular raisins are on the left, and the baker’s raisins are on the right.

Two different raisins for Hot Cross Buns

These Hot Cross Buns use the same basic dough used in the Cinnamon Raisin Bread.  A generous amount of spices and raisins make these easy buns really simple to make.

And don’t just have these during this Lenten season.  Enjoy them all year long!

Hot Cross BunsIngredients for Hot Cross Buns1 recipe Basic Dough as called for (substituting the flour below) – see Cinnamon Raisin Bread
3/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup very hot water, optional
3 1/4 cup flour (490 grams)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

If using regular raisins, not the bakers version, combine the raisins in the hot water for 20 to 30 minutes before starting the dough.  

If soaking the raisins, drain well and reserve the water.  Squeeze excess water from raisins.  Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup water from raisins.

Add the spices and salt to the flour. Continue as directed in Basic Sweet Dough recipe.  Add raisins at end of beating time.

Cover and let rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until doubled.  Dough covered and marked for Hot Cross BunsAfter the dough has risen, Risen dough for Hot Cross Bunspunch it down and use immediately or cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Line a baking sheet with parchment and spray with cooking spray.

Roll the dough into a log.
Dough rolled into a log for Hot Cross BunsDivide in half.Dough divided in half for Hot Cross BunsThen in quarters.Dough divided in fourths for Hot Cross BunsCut each quarter into three pieces, making 12 rolls.Dough divided into 12 pieces for Hot Cross Buns

With a lightly floured hand,Floured hand for Hot Cross BunsShape into round balls by flattening one piece of dough.Flatten one piece of dough for Hot Cross BunsPull all the edges of the dough underneath and squeeze them together.
Shapinng roll for Hot Cross BunsShaping roll for Hot Cross BunsShaping rolls for Hot Cross BunsShaping rolls for Hot Cross BunsPlace the ball on the work table right side up and cup your hand over and around it; Cupping hand over doughball for Hot Cross BunsCovering doughball with hand for Hot Cross Bunsshape by rolling the dough counter-clockwise under your cupped hand.
Doughball for Hot Cross BunsPlace on baking sheet.  Rolls on tray for Hot Cross BunsCover with a tea towel and let rise until doubled about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.Rolls covered on tray for Hot Cross BunsPreheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Bake 20 to 25 minutes.  Cool completely and drizzle with Vanilla Glaze (below).

Vanilla Glaze
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted after measuring  (200 grams or 7 ounces)
3 tablespoons butter, melted (45 grams or 1 3/4 ounces)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons milk

Mix all the ingredients for the glaze starting with 1 1/2 tablespoons of milk. Add the remainder of the milk if too thick. Make a cross on each roll.Making cross for Hot Cross Buns
Making cross for Hot Cross Buns





Pastry has not only been my profession, but my passion. If there is anything in particular you would like to see or any questions about baking or pastry, please let me know. Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss a post!
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17 thoughts on “Hot Cross Buns Revisited

  1. Blair K

    Hello Helen. I just wanted to thank you for this wonderful blog! I discovered it last month, at a bittersweet time. My elderly mother had died, my children were flying in, and I wanted to bake something for them. I lacked the time or energy for our family’s traditional potica (Slovenian nut roll). So I settled on kifles, but wondered if I could adapt my recipe for use in a food processor. I did a search, found your walnut kifle recipe–and it came better than my “by hand” version! Thanks again and Happy Easter.

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Blair – I love them as my mother made them for us. I’m sorry to hear of your mother’s passing but happy to hear the kifle recipe came to your rescue.

  2. Anne

    Just a quick comment to let you know how very helpful your photographs are. The angle is perfect–it shows me what the dough should like like from my own point of view, as though I’m looking at it in my own hands. (Which I will be later this afternoon.) Thank you so much!

      1. hfletcher Post author

        Hi Anne – Thank you so much for your comment. We started photographing from my point of view in my first book “The New Pastry Cook” I am not good at reversing an action in my head. Besides I thought no one would want to look at my stomach all the time. So I step aside and my husband steps in to take the photo. Or he will shoot standing by me while I am doing something. So glad it helps.

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hello Grace – Thank you for your comment but candied fruit is all but impossible to find this time of year where a lot of us live. Raisins are fine, dried fruit of any kind if fine. Just had a query about substituting other fruit and nuts – I said it was fine.

  3. Nickie

    These hot cross buns would never have been made in Lent. On Shrove Tuesday all the rich foods in the house were used up – in the pancakes – in preparation for the Lenten fast. Hot Cross buns were traditionally baked to be served on Good Friday, and traditionally would not have been eaten until after 3pm which was the time of the crucifixion. They were served as a celebration and in anticipation of the Easter feast.

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Nickie – Thank you for your comment. I respect it but also know that every grocery store I enter and every bakery is selling Hot Cross Buns. I am sure there are many that follow strict rules during Lent, but I also know many who do not. There are many ways to celebrate Easter and different religions observe it differently.

      1. Nickie

        Oh, for sure! Stores here in the UK have been selling hot cross buns since Christmas. They are becoming a year-round favourite. But TRADITIONALLY they were not. My only point. To say they were traditionally served during Lent is incorrect certainly in the English tradition and history.

        1. hfletcher Post author

          Hi Nickie – I hope I didn’t come on too strong but here in the states you only see them during Lent and only with raisins. Traditions vary from culture to culture and area to area. In the states, we traditionally have them for Lent.

          Thank you for sharing your tradition with me.

  4. Kim

    Helen, so I am to use the cinnamon raisin bread recipe but instead of using 3 cups bread flour, use 3 1/4 cup all purpose for these rolls?

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