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Easter Treats: Hot Cross Buns

Updated on August 1, 2012

About Hot Cross Buns

Traditionally eaten at Easter, these spicy buns are usually eaten toasted with butter or jam. Although the cross is generally seen as a symbol of the Crucifixion, there is some evidence that buns of this type pre-date Christianity, with the Saxons eating buns with a cross in honour of the goddess Eostre.


There are several different beliefs associated with hot cross buns. One superstition states that taking a hot cross bun on a sea voyage will ward against shipwrecks. Another folk tale associated with hot cross buns is that sharing one on Good Friday will ensure friendship throughout the coming year. This is more likely to come true if you say 'Half for you and half for me, Between us two shall goodwill be' as you split the bun.

The Nursery Rhyme

There's an old English folk song associated with hot cross buns which was first recorded in the 16th century. It goes:

Hot cross buns!
Hot cross buns!
One ha' penny, two ha' penny,
Hot cross buns!
If you have no daughters,
Give them to your sons
One ha' penny,
Two ha' penny,
Hot Cross Buns!

Cook Time

Prep time: 1 hour 15 min
Cook time: 20 min
Ready in: 1 hour 35 min
Yields: 12 Hot Cross Buns


  • 1lb Strong All-Purpose Flour, Sifted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dried Yeast, fast-action yeast
  • 7 fl oz Whole Milk
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Mixed Spice
  • 3oz Superfine Sugar, caster sugar
  • 2oz Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 1 Egg
  • 4 oz Mixed dried fruit, raisins, currents etc.
  • 1 tbsp Orange zest
  • 2 tbsp All Purpose Flour, if you want to make crosses for the top
  • 2 tbsp Cold Water
  • Corn Syrup, to glaze the buns


  1. Put all the dried ingredients, including the yeast, into a bowl and stir in the melted butter. In a separate jug, mix together the egg and milk. A little at a time, mix the wet ingredients into the dry until a dough forms. You don't want the dough to be sticky, so if it is, add a little more flour and knead well. Add the dried fruit and continue to knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until it's smooth and the fruit is well distributed. Pop the dough back into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave the bowl in a warm place for an hour to allow the dough to rise.
  2. Now heat the oven to 400 F and grease a baking sheet (I use vegetable oil and a pastry brush). You can also make the paste for the crosses - mix together the flour and water until you have a smooth paste that you can pipe onto the buns.
  3. Divide the dough into 12 pieces and shape into buns. Arrange them on the prepared baking trays with plenty of space for them to expand. Leave in a warm place until they have doubled in size. Make two cuts on the top of each bun to create a cross. Pipe the top with the paste you made.
  4. Bake the buns in the center of the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and leave to cool on a wire rack. While they're still warm, brush the tops with a little corn syrup to create a sticky glaze. You can eat while warm, or leave them to cool and then toast. Serve them with some butter or jam, whichever you prefer

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