plate of hot cross buns

How to Make Hot Cross Buns

  • Author: Emma
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes (plus cooling)
  • Yield: 12 large buns 1x


Hot cross buns, a traditional Easter treat, are easy to make with this recipe.  Each bun is filled with raisins, mixed peel, and spices and topped with a simple icing cross.  Hot cross buns are the perfect breakfast treat for kids on Good Friday or Easter!



For the Buns

  • 4 1/8 cups bread flour (500g)
  • 3 teaspoons fast-action yeast (10g)
  • 2 teaspoons fine salt (10g)
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar (100g)
  • 2 teaspoons mixed spice
  • 4 teaspoons finely grated orange zest (from 1 large orange)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (73g)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (350 ml)
  • 1/2 cup homemade lemon and orange peel, roughly diced (80g)
  • 2/3 cups raisins (100g)
  • 2/3 cup tart baking apple, peeled and finely diced (75g)

For the Decoration

  • 2 tablespoons orange marmalade (50g)
  • 2 1/3 cups icing sugar (300g)
  • 24 tablespoons cool water


Making the Dough (25 minutes + 1 hour proving)

  1. Pour the milk into a small saucepan and set over medium heat.  Bring the milk to a boil, stirring occasionally, then pour into a measuring cup with a spout and set aside to cool to 115 F.
  2. Pour the flour into the bowl of a stand mixer, adding the salt and yeast on opposite sides of the bowl.  Stir in each one with your finger, then blend in the caster sugar, mixed spice, orange zest, and butter with the paddle attachment.
  3. Dump the egg and half of the milk into the flour mixture, mixing on low speed.  Gradually add more milk as needed to bring the mixture into a soft, sticky dough; you may not need all the milk.  Keep the mixer going until all the flour is picked up from the bottom of the bowl.
  4. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead for about 10-15 minutes, until the dough is silky smooth, very stretchy, and just barely sticking to your hands and the work surface.
  5. See if the dough is kneaded enough with the windowpane test.  Stretch a small piece of dough between the thumb and forefinger of each hand. The dough should stretch until it’s translucent without tearing.  If not, knead for a minute longer and check again.
  6. Shape the dough into a ball, place in a buttered bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Let the dough prove in a warm place for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until at least doubled in size.

Preparing the Fruit & Shaping the Buns (20 minutes + 1 hour proving)

  1. While the dough is proving, measure out the candied peel and raisins.  Lightly butter a 9×13-inch cake pan that’s about 2 inches deep.  Just before the dough is ready, peel and finely dice the apple so it doesn’t go brown.
  2. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and punch it down all over to knock out the gas pockets.  Gradually knead in the peel, raisins, and apple until everything is evenly mixed.  (Using the stand mixer fitted with the dough hook makes this step much faster.)
  3. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces, using a kitchen scale for accuracy.  Roll each piece into a taut ball, rolling each ball lightly in flour if sticky.  Evenly space them in four rows of three in the prepared pan.
  4. Place the pan inside a large, clean garbage bag and inflate the bag, tucking the ends under the pan to seal.  Set in a warm place and let the buns prove for about 1 hour, until the buns have doubled in size and their sides are touching.
  5. About 10 minutes before the buns are done proving, preheat the oven to 400 F.

Baking & Decorating the Buns (20 minutes baking + 20 minutes decorating + cooling)

  1. Bake the buns in the middle of the oven at 400 F for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 F and bake for another 10-15 minutes.  Cover the buns with a sheet of aluminum foil if the tops are getting too dark.  Bake until the buns are well browned and have an internal temperature of 190 F.
  2. While the buns are baking, warm the marmalade in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Push the marmalade through a sieve into a small bowl.
  3. Remove the buns from the pan and let them cool completely on a wire rack.  Brush the tops of the hot buns with the sieved marmalade for a glossy finish.
  4. While the buns are cooling, sift the icing sugar into a medium bowl and gradually stir in just enough water to make a thick but pipeable icing.  Spoon the icing into the corner of a sandwich bag and twist the top of the bag so a skin doesn’t form on the icing.
  5. When the buns are fully cool, snip off the tip of the bag and pipe a cross onto each bun.  Serve the buns hot or at room temperature with salted butter.


  • The pleasure of a 5-star review of these hot cross buns would be greatly appreciated.
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: British

Keywords: easy, recipe, traditional

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