Hot Cross Buns
These amazing tasty, traditional Hot Cross Buns are loaded with delicious spices and fruit! Perfect for Good Friday and Easter, which is the time of the year that these classic yeast rolls are traditionally enjoyed!
Of course, these soft and sweet rolls are so aromatic while rising and baking, you won’t be able to resist enjoying them throughout the year! The wonderful smell of these spiced fruit rolls is so amazing, making it hard to wait for the buns to cool enough for finishing them off with their cross made of a thick icing!
Growing up, these hot cross buns were always served on Good Friday and they are traditionally associated with the Christian holidays remembering the crucifixion of Christ (the cross on the bun tops to represent the cross of crucifixion, and the spices used in the buns to represent the embalming spices used for Christ’s funeral).
The old English superstition and folk lore around these sweet, fruit studded rolls is a history lesson in itself! The properties that they supposedly possessed range from medicinal purposes to protecting ships at sea, but most commonly they were hung in kitchens to prevent fires and so that all baking turned out perfectly…with the moldy buns only being replaced once yearly!
Now, the cross can be made in a few different ways. A (short crust) pastry cross is most common, or the easy method typically made with some combination of confectioners sugar. Sometimes the cross is piped into an already cut cross in the tops of the buns. Other times a combination of flour and water is used as the cross that is piped on top. Our favorite is the one with sugar 😉
Many stores are offering hot cross buns in non-traditional flavors, like apple cinnamon, orange cranberry, chocolate, sticky date, coffee, caramel or toffee (and all of them are delicious!). Any which way you make your hot cross buns, the results are addictive! Enjoy!
Last Updated: March 29th, 2018
- 1/4 cup rum (or apple juice)
- 1/2 cup raisins (or currants)
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup dried cherries (unsweetened)
- 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup bread flour
- 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast (or 1 packet)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar (packed)
- 6 Tbsp butter (room temperature)
- 2 large eggs (room temperature)
- 1 large egg yolk (room temperature - save the egg white for coating the rolls)
- 1 1/4 cups milk (room temperature)
- 1 large egg white (reserved from earlier)
- 1 Tbsp milk
- 1 cup confectioners sugar
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (or almond extract)
- 1-2 Tbsp heavy cream (or half & half, use enough to make a thick pipeable icing)
Place all of your dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, cherries) in a Pyrex or microwave safe measuring cup and pour the rum or apple juice over your mixed fruit. Cover with cling film and microwave in 30 second intervals until the cling film is shrink fit to the top of your measuring cup (usually 1-2 minutes total). Set the heated measuring cup of fruit aside and allow to cool for 20-30 minutes.
In a large bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the flour (all purpose and bread flour, or use only all purpose flour if you don't have bread flour on hand).
Add spices (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg - allspice or cardamom can be substituted if needed), salt, baking powder, and brown sugar. Use a whisk or fork to quickly combine the dry ingredients.
Add the wet ingredients (butter, eggs, egg yolk, and milk) and combine, kneading until an elastic dough is formed (about 3 minutes with a stand mixer). Mix in the cooled fruit and all of the rum or apple juice that was in your measuring cup.
Cover the dough with cling film or a warmed tea towel and allow to rise for an hour (your dough may not double during that rise, but will increase in bulk).
Turn your dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth. Divide your dough into approximately 12 portions (I usually fill my 9 x 13 pan with rows of 3 x 4 buns for my 12 portions). Round each portion into a nice bun, placing the buns seams side down in your lightly greased pan.
Cover the buns with cling film or your warmed tea towel again, and allow to rise for an additional hour. Or until they have increased in size enough that they are touching each other in the pan.
(When your dough is almost completely risen) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Mix the reserved egg white with milk, whisk and then brush over the tops of each of the buns.
Bake the hot cross buns for 25-30 minutes for a dozen, or 20-25 minutes if you have made 14 portions (or more). The buns will be golden brown when done.
Remove from the oven and turn out onto a wire cooling rack (the buns will pop out as one sheet of buns). Allow your hot cross buns to cool completely before making the cross with your icing.
In a small mixing bowl, combine confectioners sugar, salt, vanilla (or almond) extract and 1 Tbsp heavy cream. Stir until you have a nice thick icing (using more heavy cream if needed).
Transfer icing into a piping bag with a small round piping tip, or into a ziploc baggie and snip a small tip off to pipe through. Make a cross on top of each of your buns.