Best Traditional Homemade Hot Cross Buns Recipe

Author: Veruska Anconitano, Award-Winning Food Travel Journalist, Sommelier & Outdoor LoverAuthor information
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Veruska Anconitano
Veruska is a a food travel journalist with awards to her credit, such as World Best Food Travel Journalist. She holds a certification as a sommelier and she is also an ardent lover of the outdoors. Aside from this, Veruska is a Multilingual SEO and Localization Consultant and co-owns multiple websites that cater to a global audience.
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Hot cross buns are typical English/Irish sort of sandwiches that are prepared fairly quickly and are nothing more than raisin-filled buns.

The buns are tiny, square and present a glazed cross that recalls the Crucifixion.

It is possible to prepare these sweet rolls at home; obviously the processing is quite long but the result is really incredible and these English rolls can become a perfect recipe for breakfast or snack.

The Hot Cross Buns recipe is not difficult to follow but, as almost all the leavened products, requires a lot of time: in fact, the secret to getting perfect Hot Cross Buns is the mixture of ingredients that must be rigorous and the rest time. In the preparation of these Hot Cross Buns for Easter, you don’t have to hurry, otherwise, the result will be poor.

As for the flour, the original recipe asks for a classic homemade flour without specifying what type but since the dough is the most important part of the whole recipe, I always use Manitoba flour which has greater power than all the other flours; to guarantee correct leavening, I also add honey that allows the activation of the so-called Maillard reaction, which allows correct leavening.

Since they are fairly dry, they tend to become hard in a very short time so I suggest you prepare them and eat them within a couple of days; or you can prepare and freeze them, taking care to thaw them at room temperature as needed before passing them in a preheated oven for a few minutes.

My typical Irish recipe calls for using a really large amount of candied fruit; I use less candied fruit than expected but if you want you can increase the dose or replace them with dried red fruits (blackberries, raspberries, currants).

Never use fresh fruit because the dough is very wet and fresh fruit releases water.

These Hot Cross Buns can be prepared along with the many specialties of our Italian Easter tradition such as dove, casatiello, or Italian Easter bread and can become a dessert to be served for breakfast and as a snack.

Ingredients for 24 Hot Cross Buns

    For the buns

    • 60 ml of water at room temperature
    • 120 ml of milk
    • 4 tablespoons of melted butter
    • 1 egg
    • 500 grams of Manitoba flour
    • 3 tablespoons of sugar
    • 1 teaspoon of honey
    • 25 grams of fresh yeast
    • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
    • half a tablespoon of nutmeg
    • 1 pinch of ground cloves
    • half a tablespoon of salt
    • 90 grams of raisins
    • 40 grams of candied fruit

    For the cross

    • 150 grams of flour
    • 70 grams of icing sugar
    • 50 ml of milk

    For the glaze (optional)

    • 100 ml of water
    • 100 grams of granulated sugar


    1. Heat the milk and then add the yeast, stir until it is dissolved and leave to rest for about 5 minutes;
    2. Mix the milk with the yeast, sugar, honey, salt, melted butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and eggs and when this first mixture has become smooth add the flour gradually; once ready, let the dough rest for 45 minutes covered in plastic wrap;
    3. After this time, knead again for about 5 minutes then add raisins and candied fruit. Give the dough the shape of a ball and place it in a buttered pan, leaving it to rest for about 24 hours so that all the moisture is absorbed;
    4. After 24 hours, quickly take the dough with your hands, then divide it into many large little cakes just a handful of fist, and let them rest for at least an hour and a half;
    5. Once grown, make a cross on the surface, brush each dough with a beaten egg, then prepare the dough for the crosses by mixing together the flour, sugar and milk in a bowl. The dough should be fairly creamy and solid and should be placed on the cross;
    6. Sprinkle the buns with a quick glaze prepared by mixing water and sugar;
    7. Bake in a very hot oven for 5 minutes at 200° C then at 180° C for another 15 minutes;
    8. Allow to cool before serving.


    Preparation time: 2 days

    Cooking time: 20 minutes

    Total time: 2 days

    Hot Cross Buns Recipe

    Hot Cross Buns: tips and advice

    • Hot Cross Buns stay well for up to 4 days if covered or wrapped in a cotton cloth or food paper. Make it better if consumed within 2 days of preparation;
    • If they start to get too hard or dry, you can use them to prepare the Easter version of this bread and butter or a perfect French toast;
    • You can freeze your buns once cooked and cold: just defrost them as needed, in the refrigerator, and quickly heat them in a hot oven;
    • To vary on the filling of the cross on the surface you can opt for sugar paste or even marzipan.

    Hot Cross Buns: origins and myths

    There is no clear explanation as to why Hot Cross Buns have become the typical Easter bread in England and Anglo-Saxon countries. In fact there are several stories related to the birth of these sweets.
    Some trace their birth back to the 12th century when an Anglican monk decided to make a cross on classic sweet rolls to celebrate Good Friday and have since entered the Catholic tradition.
    According to others, their birth dates back to the time of Queen Elizabeth who at the end of the 16th century decided to ban the sale of sweets on special occasions such as funerals, Christmas and Good Friday; to overcome these restrictions, more and more people began to prepare them at home for Easter and entered the tradition almost immediately.
    Still others claim that the Buns were prepared to drive away evil spirits.

    In all cases, the Hot Cross Buns are still the protagonists of the English, Irish and Anglo-Saxon tables during the Easter period.

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