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How to make hot cross buns. Simple and delicious Easter time recipe plus the history of this great bun.

Updated on April 6, 2014

Where did hot cross buns come from?

Marking baked goods, which included breads and buns, with a sign of a cross was common place for bakers to do, even before the great medieval expansion of religion throughout the world. Back when superstition ruled the masses, the cross was said to ward off evil spirits. It was believed these spirits made the bread go mouldy or stale.

However with the spread of Christianity throughout Europe, monks began to mark buns with a cross to replicate the Crucifixion. Although this practice was done before, during the 17th century that England made this common practice outlawed because of the reform of the Church to Protestant Church of England under Henry VIII because they thought it too 'Catholic'. The only time it was deemed acceptable was during Lent, because of its links with the Crucifixion.

From the late 1600's the tradition was to eat a spiced bun or Good Friday Bun (later to be referred to Hot Cross Buns) straight from the oven for breakfast on Good Friday.

By the 1700's the poor along with the rich enjoyed this tradition with vendors sold them on streets singing the song:

"Hot cross buns, hot cross buns, one a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns."

I have included two recipes on this hub for you to look at; one a traditional recipe that I have kept authentic, although I am afraid I can't remember where I found it. It is fun to look at historical facts though.

The second recipe is the recipe I use to make hot cross buns for the family. We all love them so it has become somewhat of a tradition in the house hold now. My daughter has even started to help over that last few years which is great quality time.

Take a look and see what you think.


  • Two and a half pounds of flour
  • Half a pound of sugar
  • One teaspoon of Coriander seeds
  • One teaspoon of Cinnamon
  • One teaspoon of Mace powder
  • Half a pound of butter
  • One pint of milk
  • Three tablespoons of yeast

Traditional recipe

The traditional method for making this cross was to use a short-crust pastry, although this has recently been replaced with a paste of flour and water.

  • Put two and a half pounds of flour into a wooden bowl.
  • Set it before a fire to warm
  • Stir in half a pound of sifted sugar
  • Add coriander seed, cinnamon and mace powder to season
  • Melt half a pound of butter in half a pint of milk until it is as warm that you can stand on your finger
  • Mix three tablespoons of very thick yeast, a little salt and place it all in the flour.
  • Mix into a paste.
  • Place onto a tin into fist size buns.
  • Cut strips of short crust pastry and lay into a cross onto of the buns.
  • Bake before the fire for a quarter of an hour.
  • Brush the top with very warm milk and return to the fire until golden brown.


  • 680g (24 oz) White flour
  • 45g (1 and a half oz) chilled butter
  • 45g (1 and a half oz) golden casting sugar, (Plus an extra 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 tablespoon allspice
  • 1/4 tablespoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fast-action dried yeast
  • 1 large egg
  • 275ml (9 fluid oz) milk, (plus 4 extra tablespoons)
  • 100g (3.5 oz) raisins
  • 25 g (1 oz) chopped mixed peel
  • Oil, (for greasing)
5 stars from 1 rating of What do you think of this Hot Cross Bun recipe?


  1. Sift 500g (18 oz) of the flour into a large bowl.
  2. Cut the butter into small cubes and add to the flour.
  3. Rub the butter in with your fingers until you have a breadcrumb consistency (this is done by rolling the butter and flour in your fingers and letting it fall back into the bowl instead of trying to just rub it in the bowl.)
  4. Stir in the 45g (1 and a half oz) of sugar, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and yeast.
  5. Beat the egg in another bowl.
  6. Add this and 300ml (10 fluid oz) of milk to the dry ingredients.
  7. Mix this into a soft dough.
  8. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for five minutes (until smooth and elastic.)
  9. Gradually work in the raisins and peel.
  10. Return to the bowl and cover with cling film.
  11. Leave in a warm place for an hour to allow to rise. It should roughly double in size.
  12. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead well to knock out the air.
  13. Cut into 12 pieces, roughly the size of your fist.
  14. Take one piece and press into a neat ball, by placing it in one hand and rotate it in a circular motion.
  15. Repeat with the other eleven pieces.
  16. Place onto a greased tray making sure they are spaced apart.
  17. Lightly cling film the tray and leave for half an hour to rise.
  18. While they are rising, preheat the oven to 200 degree Celsius, 180 degrees if fan assisted, 392 Fahrenheit, or gas mark 6.
  19. Sift the remaining flour into a bowl and stir in 175ml of tap water to make a smooth wet paste.
  20. Place into a freezer bag, cut off one of the corners (to use as a piping bag) and draw a cross over each bun.
  21. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  22. While you wait, put the extra sugar and extra milk into a pan.
  23. Heat gently to dissolve the sugar (roughly 2-3 minutes until a syrup consistency.
  24. When the buns are golden brown, brush over the top.
  25. Place on a cooling rack.
  26. Serve cut in two, toasted with lots of butter.

Cook Time

Prep time: 1 hour 30 min
Cook time: 15 min
Ready in: 1 hour 45 min
Yields: 12 Hot Cross Buns

What other serving suggestions are there:

One way we use this is to make a bread and butter pudding. You can see my recipe for this in one of my other hubs if this sounds nice, which it is - very. This bread and butter pudding is one reason we make hot cross buns throughout the year and not just during Easter time.


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    • tinatincy profile image


      4 years ago from Zagreb

      I find this hub to be very useful! Good job!


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