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The Humble Hot Cross Bun

Updated on April 1, 2015
Hot Cross Buns. One a penny, two a penny
Hot Cross Buns. One a penny, two a penny | Source

There's a lot more to Hot Cross Buns than you think

When I was a child, Hot Cross Buns were the big highlight of Easter.

On Good Friday we would gather in the kitchen, waiting for the buns to come out of the oven. If I close my eyes I can smell them still.

Those buns churned out by the Hot Bread chains are mass produced and frozen before they reach the outlet. As for supermarket buns, the less said the better. Why not try making your own?

Almost my Mother's recipe

I've had many years of success with it

I would have really enjoyed giving you the traditional recipe that my mother, and her mother, used. (I assume it was familiar to everybody's grandmother). Mum had a large number of recipes in a school exercise book, written in faded longhand, some dating from 1946.

Sadly, much of that book has fallen to pieces and I scarcely dare touch it for fear of the whole lot crumbling to dust before my eyes. I really should find out how to restore it.

Nowadays I use a much simpler recipe, with a packet of bread mix

Cook Time

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: Overall approx 4 hours


  • 500 g pack white bread mix
  • 2 heaped tsp mixed spice
  • 50 g butter - chopped
  • 50 g caster sugar
  • 50 g mixed peel
  • 85 g currants
  • 100 ml milk
  • 1 large egg


  1. Tip the bread mix into a bowl and stir in spice and sugar. Rub in the butter with your fingertips. Stir in the peel and currants.
  2. Pour 100ml/4fl oz water onto the milk, then beat in the egg and pour into the dried ingredients. Mix to a very moist dough (the wetter the better). Leave for 5 mins then cut in to 10 equal pieces and roughly shape into buns with oiled hands (this helps to stop the mixture sticking too much). Even though the mixture is very moist, try not to use extra flour as it will toughen the dough.
  3. Space the buns apart on 2 greased baking sheets, cover loosely with cling film, then leave in a warm room until about half again in size. This will take anything from 45 mins to 1 hr 15 mins, depending on how warm and moist the environment is.
  4. When the buns have risen, heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7 and make the crosses. Mix the flour with 2 and a ½ tbsp water to make a paste. Pour into a plastic food bag and make a tiny nick in one of the corners. Pipe crosses on each bun. Bake for 12-15 mins until risen and golden.
  5. Trim the excess cross mixture. They'll keep fresh for a day, and after that are best toasted.
Cast your vote for Super Simple Recipe for Hot Cross Buns

Traditional Glazing for Hot Cross Buns

1 and 1/3 cup icing sugar

1 to 2 tablespoons of milk

Squeeze of lemon juice

1 and 1/2 teaspoon of finely grated lemon zest

Making Hot Cross Buns Video

Actions speak louder than words. Watch a demonstraion of hot cross buns being made

Why all these little cakes and buns?

Lttle buns were baked all over pre-Christian Europe in honour of the Spring goddess, Eostre. It was the Saxons who carried this particular tradition to England.

The cross on these Saxon cakes was the sacred symbol of the sun wheel which is in perfect balance at the Spring Equinox.

Similar treats were enjoyed in the Americas too. Every eight years the planet Venus returns to the same position in relation to the sun and the earth. This cycle was celebrated by the Mayas in Yucatan, the Aztecs in Mexico, and the Incas in Peru who all offered small cakes in celebration.

The cross on the bun

What's it for?

The cross also represents the four seasons, or the four phases of the moon, and were found on the sacrificial bread of lunar goddesses of many cultures. We still use a circle with a cross as the biological symbol for female - the sign of Venus.

When Christianity gained ascendancy, the cross on the bun came to represent the traditional Christian cross and the Easter festival became dominated by Christian traditions.

In modern times we associate hot cross buns with Good Friday, or at least with the lenten season, but it took a decree from Queen Elizabeth I to limit consumption of hot cross buns to proper religious ceremonies, such as Christmas, Easter or funerals.

For Elizabethan England, the cross on the bun smacked too much of the Church of Rome.


Easter Bread

Traditional Easter breads are enjoyed across the world today. They are yeast-based, slightly sweet and enriched with eggs and dried fruit.

Some, like the Russian kulich, the Greek tsoureki and the Italian columba, are single large loaves or cakes, whilst others are made into little individual buns.

In Australia, the buns are yeast-based, studded with raisins and citrus peel and topped with a cross of flavoured icing. Whatever they are, wherever they come from, they're drop-dead delicious.

If you're baking hot cross buns this year make sure you choose Good Friday for your cooking.

Folklore tells us this makes sure they never grow mouldy.

What about your buns? Poll

When do you eat your hot cross buns?

See results

© 2009 Susanna Duffy

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    • jolou profile image

      jolou 5 years ago

      It was always a family tradition to have them on Easter Sunday. They are delicious right out of the oven.

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 5 years ago

      The cook inspires me, so I'll do it. Great lens. Thanks

    • profile image

      TravelingRae 5 years ago

      I haven't had hot cross buns since I was little. I loved them served warm and slathered with sweet butter.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great lens. Great idea. God bless!

    • ismeedee profile image

      ismeedee 5 years ago

      You've given me a good idea now! I'm visiting back home in USA for Easter where we never had hot cross buns at Easter time, so I will make these for everyone!!

    • bwet profile image

      bwet 5 years ago

      they look yummy! wish i could just pick them out from the screen :D

    • queenofduvetcover profile image

      queenofduvetcover 5 years ago

      Hot buns look delicious! Thanks for sharing. =)

    • intermarks profile image

      intermarks 5 years ago

      It looks so delicious. I am going to make some. Thanks for the recipes!

    • TheZinc LM profile image

      TheZinc LM 5 years ago

      my favourite part of easter!!!

    • profile image

      momsfunny 5 years ago

      Simple yet very delicious!

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 5 years ago from San Francisco

      These buns look so-o-o-o good. I don't have a big electric mixture, but I hope to carve out some time to mix them up by hand this weekend. What a treat!

    • Wendy Leanne profile image

      Wendy Leanne 5 years ago from Texas

      Oh my goodness. You had me at all spice and nutmeg. Yum. I will have to try this recipe.

    • elsiesflat profile image

      elsiesflat 5 years ago

      Very informative. I'll have to try out this recipe. thank you.

    • profile image

      JimmyBooth 5 years ago

      I just ate hot cross buns! Roll on Easter

    • profile image

      MonaVJ 5 years ago

      oh my.... I love buns...

    • lasertek lm profile image

      lasertek lm 5 years ago

      Hot cross buns. These are my favorite.

    • fivee05 lm profile image

      fivee05 lm 5 years ago

      The buns look delicious.

    • jethrosas profile image

      Jethro 5 years ago from Philippines

      I have to eat one. :)

    • JoyfulReviewer profile image

      JoyfulReviewer 5 years ago

      These look so delicious ... thanks for your recipes and history lesson.

    • profile image

      papadyo 5 years ago

      wanna get some bun...

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I love hot cross buns with tea so each time I see them, I just get some.

    • profile image

      AlexBooth 5 years ago

      An Easter classic that we cant do without, great Lense!

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 5 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Ah the aroma of Hot Cross Buns, happy memories! Angel blessed

    • Glenn619 profile image

      Glenn619 5 years ago

      Such a delight of a lens, thanks for the recipes Susan.

    • BodyLanguageExp profile image

      BodyLanguageExp 5 years ago

      Hot cross buns remind me of a song about them that my family and I used to sing. Traditionally and Easter song and an old cry, people would sing when selling them in the streets:

      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!

      Thank you for bringing these memories back to me!

    • dwnovacek profile image

      dwnovacek 5 years ago

      I've always wondered about hot cross buns! Thank you for the information and the wonderful recipe. I'll be trying it soon! Angel Blessed!

    • tyrosine profile image

      tyrosine 5 years ago

      awwww i always love these crossbuns! they look so delicious!

    • profile image

      aquarian_insight 5 years ago

      I'm going to bookmark this lens as I will definitely be trying your recipe. Thank you!

    • KateW39 profile image

      KateW39 5 years ago

      The Easter bread looks yummy.

    • suzy-t profile image

      suzy-t 5 years ago

      Brings back many memories. It was also a tradition of ours at Easter when I was younger. I had forgotten about it but will make them this year for Good Friday. Thank you for the wonderful lens. Indeed humble is the hot cross bun !... Blessed...

    • Cold0911 profile image

      Cold0911 5 years ago

      Love em anytime!

    • JohnMichael2 profile image

      JohnMichael2 5 years ago

      Nice lens and presentation

    • ThePerfectPresent profile image

      ThePerfectPresent 6 years ago

      I have never had them. They look delicious.

    • daedrea lm profile image

      daedrea lm 6 years ago

      Wow, I haven't had one of these in a while...I might just try to make one myself this summer :)

    • CruiseReady profile image

      CruiseReady 6 years ago from East Central Florida

      I don't believe I've ever eaten one of these. They sound really good, though!

    • ClassyGals profile image

      Cynthia Davis 6 years ago from Pittsburgh

      No Joke, Angel Blessings! Happy April Fools Day!

    • Grasmere Sue profile image

      Sue Dixon 7 years ago from Grasmere, Cumbria, UK

      Mmmm I can just smell these now! I love them toasted with LOTS of butter melting all over them. Great recipe- I'm featuring it on my Easter cookie lens.

    • lilymom24 profile image

      lilymom24 7 years ago

      Have never heard of having hot cross buns for Easter but they sure look good. Favoriting the lens and I "should" try the recipe. =)

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Thank you for the recipe for hot cross buns! I haven't had them homemade since I was a child! I'll be making them this year!!! Blessed by the "Easter recipe" SquidAngel!

    • thepartyanimal2 profile image

      thepartyanimal2 7 years ago

      Yummy Yum Yum - I so what some of these now - Great Recipe - thanks for sharing !!!

    • rewards4life info profile image

      rewards4life info 8 years ago

      Love them hot with a jam for breakfast or afternoon tea...mmm. The Easter bread is called "chalka" in Poland, and I've had it very often as a child. Thanks, Susan!

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 8 years ago from Canada

      Your lens is being featured on Easter Time Headquarters and would appreciate a lensroll. Thanks!

    • profile image

      ForAllWeCare 8 years ago

      I found this lens from related pages section of my lens on "How to Make Chinese Bun the Easy Way". Interesting. Different kinds of buns completely, but they are Squidooly related. Great lens.

    • Pmona LM profile image

      Pmona LM 8 years ago

      Great job on this lens, it's full of interesting info. I've never had a hot cross bun, but they sure do look yummy!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I've never had one. Wish I could come to your place and you could feed me hot cross buns.

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 8 years ago from Canada

      I love hot cross buns; a batch doesn't last very long around here! Great work on your lens ~~ blessed by a brand-new SquidAngel! Be sure to submit your lens to Easter Time Headquarters.


    • LetaRussell LM profile image

      LetaRussell LM 8 years ago

      Great lens! I never had a hot cross bun until about 2 weeks ago...umm delicious. A German tradition for Good Friday as I grew up was was to eat Schnitz soup and Grebble. Just maybe I'll do a lens...