Make these homemade traditional hot cross buns for Easter weekend, flavoured with raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves! These sweet buns are perfect sliced in half, toasted, served with lots of salted butter and a big cup of tea. This dough is kneaded in the mixer making this hot cross buns recipe easy because you don’t have to knead the dough by hand.
What are hot cross buns?
Hot cross buns are a sweet, spiced bread made from an enriched yeast dough, meaning a bread dough that is enhanced with rich ingredients like eggs, milk, sugar, and butter (just like brioche, maple brioche buns, stollen bread, stollen buns, chocolate babka bread, chocolate babka buns, and even Turkish coffee cardamom buns). A typical hot cross buns has a few characteristics:
- dried fruit, and/or candied citrus peel, like sultana raisins, golden raisins, currants, candied orange peel, candied lemon peel, or citron peel. These add-ins are mixed into the dough before the first rise
- sweet spices, like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. Hot cross buns would taste great with cardamom too!
- a cross, which can be piped on at two different stages:
- to add the cross before baking, make a simple flour and water paste and pipe it on BEFORE baking the hot cross buns. Personally, I tend to pipe on a flour paste mark before baking because I like to toast my hot cross buns and I don’t think toasters and icing sugar paste go well together.
- to add the cross after baking, make a sweet white glaze from icing sugar and water and pipe on AFTER baking the hot cross buns, when they have cooled.
Why do they call them hot cross buns?
I always spend Easter week-end with my family, and we always have hot cross buns and tea in the afternoons. Usually, we buy the buns from Pâtisserie de Gascogne, but some years, I make hot cross buns from scratch (using a recipe that I tweaked from Donna Hay). As they bake, the scent of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves fills the house. The combination of candied citrus peel and raisins, alongside the mixture of spices, are what make hot cross buns so special. I truly believe that these are better than any bun that you buy in a store. Trust me. Apparently hot cross buns are an old Anglican tradition. The buns have a cross piped onto them in reference to Good Friday. Hot cross buns are served to mark the end of Lent, specifically on Good Friday, though these days, they are enjoyed Easter weekend.
The secret to stress-free bread baking is to use the dough hook of your electric mixer. This hot cross buns recipe is easy because I made the dough with a KitchenAid mixer (the big 6 quart model from Amazon, but the smaller one from Amazon works too). Sure, you could knead hot cross buns dough by hand. Works like a charm! I guess I’m a little lazy, but I’ve had a lot of success kneading doughs with a mixer, so I don’t do that by hand any more.
I tweaked the spice mixture, and used less flour than was called for in the original recipe (proof that I am getting better at making bread dough, I think!) but the amount of flour probably is dependent on the temperature, humidity, and the wheat used for the flour… I baked the buns at 350ºF, as recommended by the original recipe, but I think next year, I might try 325ºF because some of the raisins were a little overdone at that high a temperature. Donna Hay used a gelatin glaze, but I took the opportunity to glaze with maple syrup which gives these hot cross buns a gorgeous shiny finish and a little sweet coating.
Hot cross buns recipe
Hot cross buns are a must every year for Easter weekend. They are also a great way to use up the leftover raisins and candied peel from Christmas past.
An Easter recipe for hot cross buns
This Easter recipe for homemade hot cross buns makes 12 big beautiful buns flavoured with a mixture of cinnamon, raisins, and candied peel. The buns are brushed with maple syrup just after baking which gives them a gorgeous shiny, sweet finish. Adapted from Donna Hay hot cross buns recipe
- 2 1/4 tsp instant dried yeast 1 packet
- 50 grams granulated sugar 1/4 cup
- 375 mL warm milk ~95°F 1 1/2 cups
- 530 grams all-purpose flour 4 1/4 cups
- 2 3/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- scant 1/4 tsp cloves
- 58 grams melted butter 1/4 cup
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 50 grams sugar 1/4 cup
- 240 grams raisins I like to use a mixture of golden raisins and sultanas (or whatever I have in the cupboard)
- 55 grams candied citrus peel mix of orange and lemon
- 75 grams all-purpose flour
- 80 mL water
- 60 mL maple syrup 1/4 cup
- In a 2 cup measurer (or a small bowl), stir together the first three ingredients (yeast, sugar, and milk). Set aside to “bubble and grow” as you measure out the other ingredients.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, add the flour, spices, butter, egg, sugar, raisins, and candied peel. Mix on low for a minute, then add in the yeast mixture and mix on medium for 8 to 10 minutes (this is essential to get a good bun texture). The dough should not stick to the sides, but should feel slightly tacky when you press it with your fingers. If it’s too dry, sprinkle some water, and continue beating. If it’s too wet, add a couple teaspoons of flour (a little at a time) and beat.
- Form the dough into a ball and place it in a greased, large bowl (rolling it in the bowl to grease the dough). Cover the bowl with saran wrap.
- Let rise until the dough has doubled in size, in a warm, draft-free location, like in the oven with just the light turned on.
Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper.
Punch the dough down slightly, form a log. Divide the log into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and place on the prepared pans.
Cover the pans with saran wrap and let the buns rise until they have doubled.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Prepare the cross dough: To form the crosses, mix the flour and the water, and pipe thinly onto the top of each bun just before baking. The dough should be thin enough to pipe, but thick enough not to spread.
Bake the buns on the middle racks for 25 minutes, or until the buns are deep golden color.
Remove the buns from the oven and brush with maple syrup a couple times as they cool (note that as the buns cool, the maple syrup will form a sweet sticky glaze on the buns). Serve the buns when they are slightly warm, with salted butter. You can reheat them in the oven the next day.
Janice Lawandi is chemist-turned-baker, working as a recipe developer in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She studied pastry at Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa and cooking at l’Académie Culinaire. She has a BSc in Biochemistry from Concordia University and a PhD in Chemistry from McGill University.