How to make hot cross buns

A loaf of hot cross buns, two rippled off

Look what I did! Look look! So proud. Don’t worry, I’ve got step by step instructions for you too.

And yes, they do taste better than store bought. Promise.

Half a hot cross bun with butter

I did lots of research on this one. Combined three different recipes, checked what my favourite baker puts in his. Then, I made them again tweaking the things I thought could have been improved from the first batch. I’ve got your back on this one. AND, I’ve got a chocolate chip version I’ll put up in a few days.

Close up of hot cross bun with sultanas

The biggest change I made was on the quantity. My first batch made 12, the second batch made 15. The batch of 12 was too tall and thick. So I used a bigger pan the next time and made more buns. Follow along below.

Step 1: remember this is a bread, so you’re going to need some time to let it rise. In other words, don’t start this at 9pm at night. My other top tip is to use real rind instead of mixed peel.

Now we’ve got that covered.

Step 2: Warm that milk up. You need it warm to activate the yeast. Try one minute on medium high in the microwave. Place the yeast, 2 teaspoons of the sugar and milk in a large mixing bowl, whisk to dissolve yeast. Set aside for 5 minutes, until the mixture starts to foam. This means the yeast is active.

Image of lemon and lime rind and yeast bubbling

Step 3: Put all the ingredients in the bowl with the milk, and mix together. Then knead it good until it has come together. A few minutes.

Me kneading dough.

Step 4: Place dough in an oiled non-porous bowl (metal), cover with cling film and leave it alone for an hour. I said ALONE. Go read a magazine. It will double in size.

Two bowls, one with dough in a small bowl, one with the dough double the size.

Step 5: Pound dough back down and divide into 15 balls. Put in your 28x18cm pan. Leave it alone again for half an hour until doubled in size. Make your cross mixture. Wash up. Make yourself useful. Preheat the oven too.

Step 6: Place the cross mixture into a piping bag or plastic bag with corner cut off. Once the buns have done their rising thing (so we haven’t cooked them yet, I had to check that bit a lot myself) carefully put your crosses on, not too thick as they are chewy once baked.

Piping crosses on dough buns

Careful crosses make you look like a pro.

Two trays of dough buns showing the difference before and after the rising effect of the yeast.

Step 7: Bake. Keep an eye on them. They brown up fast. Tap bottom of pan, should sound hollow if it’s done.

Step 8: Once buns are done, leave in pan while you make your glaze. Spread it on while they’re still good and hot, you won’t use it all. That’s OK. Then, with the help of that baking paper, lift them out and leave on wire rack to cool.

Before and after shots of the cooked loaf with and without glaze

Rip apart. Cover with butter and jam, or have them plain.

Loaf of hot cross buns with one ripped off and ripped in half

Take them to work and win some friends.

Hot cross buns in a basket


For the buns

1 tablespoon dry yeast
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 1/2 cups milk, lukewarm (32-43 C which is 90-110 F) warm on your skin but should not be so hot that it burns. Try one minute on medium high in the microwave. You can read more about activating yeast here.
4 1/2 cups plain flour, sifted
1 tablespoon lemon/orange rind (or finely chopped mixed peel)*
2 teaspoons allspice
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
50g butter, melted
1 egg
1/2 cup sultanas/raisins
2 tablespoon currants

*I use the rind over mixed peel as I think it’s a better, more natural flavour – a lot of people don’t like mixed peel.

For the crosses

1/2 cup plain flour (8 tbl)
1 teaspoon caster sugar
1/3 cup water (5 tbl)
The thicker the cross mixture the more it will sit on top of the bun. Thinner it will sit flush. Personal choice.

For the glaze

(you won’t use all of this)
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons caster sugar


  1. Place the yeast, 2 teaspoons of the sugar and milk in a large mixing bowl. Whisk to dissolve yeast. Set aside for 5 minutes, until the mixture starts to foam. This means the yeast is active.
  2. Add flour, all the spices, butter, egg, raisins, rind and remaining sugar to the yeast mixture. Use a spoon to mix until a sticky dough forms.
  3. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for a couple of minutes, or until it feels elastic.
  4. Place in a large oiled bowl, spray or drizzle with a little extra oil then cover with cling film and allow to stand in a warm place about 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  5. Pound dough back down. Divide into 15 pieces and roll into balls. Line a 28x18cm pan (original recipe asked for a 9×9-inch cake tin and said 12 balls. I think they were too tall and thick like that, each to their own) with non-stick baking paper. Place the dough balls in the tin in three rows of five and cover with cling film again. Allow to stand for 30 minutes in a warm place, or until they rise.
  6. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Combine the extra flour and water for the crosses. Place in a piping bag or a plastic bag with the corner snipped off and pipe crosses on the buns when they are ready to be baked. Take care with the crosses, good crosses make you look like a pro.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes or until browned and springy to the touch.
  8. To make the glaze, combine sugar and water in a small saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Brush the hot cross buns with the warm glaze while the buns are hot. Cool buns on a rack.

Serve warm, with butter and/or jam and cream. I also take mine to work and eat plain. Or I like to squish them to make them fit in the toaster and smother in butter and jam

Makes: 15 hot cross buns. (Or 12 larger ones.)

Healthy: 245 calories per hot cross bun if you make 15, 310 calories per hot cross bun if you make 12.

Storage: I froze this batch with butter and jam in them and took them to work. It was awesome.

Source: a combination of Piggy’s cooking journal, Nigella and Taste.

12 Comments on How to make hot cross buns

  1. Sarah
    5 March 2013 at 2:36 am (5 years ago)

    i really want to make hot cross buns this year! last year i planned to, but it never happened. these look amazing, and i’m impressed you doctored the recipe on your own. i never do that with yeast recipes 🙂

  2. TammyeHoney
    6 March 2013 at 8:16 am (5 years ago)

    They look incredible thank you for sharing

  3. Amy
    6 March 2013 at 12:04 pm (5 years ago)

    Wow, these look amazing…and WAY better than store-bought! I don’t know if I’ve ever had one. They’re an Easter thing? They look so yummy and doughy!! mmmmmm

  4. Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen
    6 March 2013 at 2:58 pm (5 years ago)

    I made these last year.. you’ve brought back some wonderful memories! I can almost smell them baking! Way to go that you’ve mastered making these and I can’t wait to see your next version! xx

  5. Victoria
    10 March 2013 at 3:20 pm (5 years ago)

    These look fantastic! I didn’t know the cross was made with a separate mixture….little did I know! I am inspired! 🙂

  6. Sofia
    26 March 2013 at 12:16 am (5 years ago)

    Hi Aimee! I just nominated you for the Super Sweet Blogging Award. You don’t need to do anything, I just want to acknowledge that I like your blog, thats all.

    • Aimee@clevermuffin
      26 March 2013 at 3:51 pm (5 years ago)

      Thank you so much!! That’s lovely of you and absolutely made my day 🙂 xx

  7. easybaked
    28 March 2013 at 1:12 am (5 years ago)

    These are just beautiful!!!! I’ve always wanted to try making these at Easter…

  8. Fat Cat
    31 March 2013 at 12:13 am (5 years ago)

    Thanks for such a great recipe 🙂 Made them today and they are a run-away success!

    • Aimee@clevermuffin
      3 April 2013 at 8:58 pm (5 years ago)

      That’s awesome! I’m so glad that it came in handy and worked out 🙂

  9. Christy Henson
    19 January 2014 at 9:55 am (4 years ago)

    When my parents had a bakery I would help them cook the numerous dozens of hot cross buns. This year we don’t have the bakery anymore. So I decided to make some myself, I didn’t have the recipe that we used at the bakery, so I went ahead and tried this one out. A few modifications include not using ‘all spice’ and instead using finely grated cinnamon nutmeg mace a dash of hot praprika, I also added a tsp of honey to the milk/sugar/yeast mix. And finally I didn’t have a piping bag, or grease paper… so instead made a flour, milk and water pastry to use as the crosses. In all, mine turned out a bit more dense (because I didn’t leave the dough to rise before kneading), and a bit sweeter. I reckon it was delish. I would highly recommend adding the honey, and fine tuning your own ‘all-spice’ mix. Off to chomp on some more buns!


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