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Hot Cross Buns

“Good Friday come this month, the old woman runs
With one or two a penny hot cross buns!”

Did you sing this nursery rhyme as a child? I can’t say hot cross buns without the words of this rhyme running through my head! These slightly sweet rolls are perfect for your Easter morning brunch or really any brunch for that matter. My homemade Hot Cross Bun recipe has been passed down in the family and is full of fragrant warm spices and studded with dried fruit and the top of each bun is drizzled with a cross of citrus glaze.

Like any holiday we all have certain foods that we associate with that special day, for Easter mine are Ham, Aunt Marla’s Scallped Potatoes and the best part Hot Cross Buns! Hot Cross Buns are traditionally made on Good Friday.  I can remember my mom making them when I was a kid, the kitchen would smell so good, I would always snatch a pinch of the dough to eat; sweet, and laced with the perfect amount of spices, and raisins. Don’t forget the raisins, or the citrus glaze that forms the cross over the top! The ingredient list on this recipe is a bit long, but don’t let that scare you it’s really very simple. Let’s get started!

ingredient photo
  • all purpose flour
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • ground cinnamon
  • ground cloves
  • ground nutmeg
  • ground cardamon
  • salt
  • whole milk
  • butter
  • sugar
  • eggs
  • currants or raisins
  • egg white
  • whole lemon
  • whole orange
  • powdered sugar
mixing ingredients. milk, butter in pan, dry ingredients in bowl, eggs in white dish, raisins in small white dish
  1. In a saucepan over low heat combine whole milk, butter, granulated sugar, and salt.  Warm until butter starts to melt.  Do not bring milk mixture to a boil, just warm so the butter gets soft.  If you accidentally get it too hot, let it cool down before moving on to the next step. (too hot being over 120 degrees fahrenheit) In a large bowl add 3 1/2 cups of flour, yeast packet, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamon, and cloves. Mix together.
mixing wet and dry ingredients plus eggs

2. Pour warm milk and butter mixture over flour and spices, adding three large eggs, using a bread whisk or a wooden spoon mix ingredients together as well as possible. Note: This dough can also be mixed in the bowl of a stand mixer using the dough attachment.

dough in bowl with raisins, about to be mixed in

3. Mix as well a possible with whisk or wooden spoon. Put that aside and get your hands in there to knead the dough until comes together and forms a nice smooth dough ball. This is not a sticky dough, at this point you will want to dust the counter top with the last 1/2 cup of flour and turn dough out on to your work surface and knead dough until all the flour is incorporated.  

hands holding dough over bowl

4. Knead until yeast dough is reasonably soft, not too stiff, if you make bread often you will have a feel for it, it you don’t then just make sure your dough isn’t sticky, but is still easily pinched together. You should not have sore arms the next day from kneading your bread dough!

5. Lightly grease the bowl with some butter or vegetable oil, for best results cover dough with a tea towel, find a warm place and let your dough rise for 1- 2 hours. Rise times may vary depending on temperature and humidity. If you have a proofing setting on your oven this works well. Place a small glass dish of water in oven along with covered. Dough should nearly doubled in size.

Tip: I take old pillow cases and cut them into squares for covering dough while it rises.  They make perfect tea towels!
punching dough down in bowl

6. When dough has doubled in size get out your aggressions on it and punch it down.

cutting dough into individual rolls

7. Give it a minute or two to figure out what hit it! Prepare your baking pan. You can use a baking sheet, or a 9×13 inch baking pan. Lightly grease pan with butter or you can also line pans with parchment paper. Divide dough into 16 equal parts. You can eyeball it or if you have a kitchen scale you can weigh them to make sure they are equal in size.

hot cross bun dough on sheet pan

8. Cover dough balls with tea towel and return to warm corner. Let rise for a minimum of 1 hour. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

9. Combine 1 egg white with 1 tablespoon of water in a small dish. Brush each roll with egg wash. Place buns in a preheated oven and bake for 12 minutes. Remove and let cool.

10. Combine 1 teaspoon of lemon zest and 1 teaspoon of orange zest in a dish, add 1 cup of powdered sugar and 2 teaspoons of lemon or orange juice, combine.  If glaze is too runny add more powdered sugar, if too stiff add a little more juice.

I usually use a sandwich bag for piping the glaze over the top of the buns. Fill it up, zip it shut, clip one corner, and voila!  Easy clean up just toss the bag in the garbage when done. However, a piping bag or piping bottle work as well.

glazing crosses on baked buns

If you are looking for a sweet brunch edition for your Easter menu. I think this will work perfectly!

hot cross buns on a plate surrounded by easter decor

There are many stories, folklore, and superstition surrounding these tasty buns marked with a cross.  One of my favorites is that the buns should be torn in half and shared with a friend….

“Half for you and half for me. Between us two goodwill shall be!” 

But my very favorite is the simple reminder of the Cross that Jesus carried and was crucified on for our sins, for that I am eternally grateful!

Many blessings to you! Sheila

hot cross buns on a plate with easter decorations around the plate

Hot Cross Buns

Traditionally made at Easter this sweet roll recipe incorporates warm spices and dried fruits and is decorated with a citrus icing.
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Prep Time 3 hours
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 25 minutes
Course bread
Cuisine baked goods
Servings 16 rolls


  • 4 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 package Active Dry Yeast
  • 3/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cardamon
  • a dash of Cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 3/4 cup whole Milk
  • 1/2 cup Butter 1 stick
  • 1/3 cup Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 2/3 cups Currants or Raisins
  • 1 beaten Egg White


  • 1 teaspoon Lemon Zest
  • 1 teaspoon Orange Zest
  • 1 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Lemon Juice


  • In a mixing bowl combine 3 1/2 cups flour, yeast, and spices. Warm up milk, butter, sugar, and salt over low heat in a saucepan, until butter is nearly melted, should just be warm. Remove from heat and combine with dry ingredients. Add eggs beating until combined. Add in raisins.
  • Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough. Shape into a ball, and place in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a towel and let rise for 1-2 hours or until nearly doubled in size.
  • Punch dough down. Turn out onto cutting board and let rest for a few minutes. Divide dough in to 16 equal balls. Place on a greased or parchment lined baking sheet. Cover and let rise for 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • In a small bowl combine an egg white and 1 tablespoon of water beat lightly. Brush each roll lightly with egg wash. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 12 minutes or till golden brown. Cool on cooking rack.
  • Whisk together glaze ingredients. Spoon glaze into a Zip-loc sandwich bag, clip the corner and pipe glaze in a cross pattern over each roll.
Keyword baked goods, bread, Easter, rolls, spices
Tried this recipe?Mention @eat2gather or tag #eat2gather!

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  1. Thanks for sharing this recipe. I would love to have one of these with my coffee right now. I have bookmarked the page so I can try this recipe. If you get a chance stop by my blog Recipe for Life and check out some of my family favorite recipes at: deborah-bateman.blogspot.com
    Deborah H. Bateman-Author

  2. These look tasty, and so appropriate for this time of year. I am have to admit I have only been brave enough to make yeast bread/buns…once…maaaayyybeee twice (if you count pizza dough.) Thanks for posting this!

    1. I hope you give these a try..honestly other than being a little time consuming they are super easy. I’m sure you would ace them! Thanks for stopping in. Have a great weekend! Sheila

  3. I’ve never attempted Hot Cross Buns – love to eat them – but never tried making them. I will try them this Easter season. Thanks for sharing the recipe.