If you're looking for a simple recipe for traditional hot cross buns then try this simple recipe. These delicious classic hot cross buns are filled with currants and mixed spice and topped with the traditional white cross. They make the perfect Good Friday breakfast or brunch.
Have you ever made hot cross buns? Or do you just buy them from the supermarket? I have to admit that I do usually buy them rather than make them. After all, making bread can be time consuming and I certainly don't have time to knead enriched dough every few days!
However, I do like the challenge of making something new every so often. And making homemade bread definitely gives me at least a sense of satisfaction.
When do you eat hot cross buns?
Hot cross buns are traditionally eaten for breakfast on Good Friday. I have to admit that I would not manage to make these in the morning in time to eat for breakfast! Maybe brunch though, especially on days when the kids wake me up early!
Hot cross buns have been around for a long time and you can find out more about the history of hot cross buns in Britain here.
What ingredients are in traditional hot cross buns?
These are traditional hot cross buns and so I've kept to the classic ingredients. To make them you will need:
- Caster sugar - To give them just a little sweetness
- Fast action yeast
- Strong white flour - Strong flour has more gluten in and is better for bread making than plain white flour.
- Mixed spice - For that traditional hot cross bun flavour!
- Currants - You could also use raisins or a mixture of raisins and currants.
- Egg - Along with the butter, the egg enriches the dough and makes it into a more indulgent bread with a higher fat content than an everyday loaf of bread.
- Butter - I usually use unsalted but salted is fine too.
To make the crosses on top you'll just need:
- Plain white flour
- A little water
Then to make the glaze you just need:
- Caster sugar
Buy, what does the term 'enriched dough'mean?
An enriched dough is just a dough that contains a higher proportion of fats than a standard loaf of bread which is low in fat. The butter and egg change the texture of the bread and make it softer. But, they can affect how long it takes the bread to rise. It will take a bit longer for an enriched dough to rise than a standard bread dough.
How long do these hot cross buns take to rise?
These traditional hot cross buns will take at least an hour to rise. You want the dough to double in size. It will probably take more like an hour and a half or even two hours. It depends on the room temperature. If it's warmer, the buns will rise more quickly.
How do you make the crosses on the buns?
When I first made these hot cross buns I used the same ingredients but I used a little less water and was able to roll little sausages of dough out of flour and water. However, I have developed a much easier way of making the crosses since then.
I now combine just enough water with plain flour to make a thick paste. I then use syringe to put the crosses on the buns. The syringes I use are the same ones that often come with children's medicines, although you can get special icing syringes which would probably work even better!
How do you make the tops of the buns shiny?
I make a simple glaze with sugar and water to give these buns their shiny coating. I put 1 tablespoon of sugar and two tablespoons of water in a little bowl then dissolve it by heating it in the microwave. Or you can use a small saucepan.
As soon as the buns come out of the oven I brush them with the glaze.
An alternative method is to use apricot jam. Heat a tablespoonful with a tablespoon of water in the microwave and then bush the buns lightly as soon as they come out of the oven. You need the water so the jam is not too thick and gloopy.
Can you adapt this hot cross buns recipe?
I did think about not making the traditional ones. My husband doesn't like dried fruit so I considered making them with chocolate instead, which I read is popular in Australia. But in the end I felt that as it was my first attempt I should try to make traditional ones and I can always be experimental next time. (Since I first wrote that, I have tried a few variations!)
Even if you don't alter these hot cross buns a lot there are a lot of ways you can vary them. As well as the currants you can add other dried fruit. Try diced dried apricots or dates, raisins or mixed peel.
Instead of mixed spice you can use just cinnamon.
Did my family like this recipe?
There was of course an upside to my other half not liking currants. He picked them all out and left them on the side of his plate. All the more for someone else! But seriously, apart from the currants he loved these hot cross buns and said he was glad I'd made them.
My children are also a bit picky about eating currants and raisins so sadly I didn't manage to get them to eat a whole hot cross bun each. Master Spice ate about a quarter and then said he didn't like it. Little Miss Spice had one bite!
However, if you have children who will happily eat dried fruit then I reckon these would be a hit!
Can you adapt these to make in the bread maker?
I haven't tried making these in the bread maker yet but it is one of the things I hope to do soon. It should be possible to put all the ingredients into the loaf tin and then use the dough setting.
It is something I plan to try soon and I will then update this post!
How long do these hot cross buns keep?
These hot cross buns should keep well in an airtight container for about 3 days. However, they are best when freshly baked. They are just gorgeous when warm and the butter is melting in.
If you want to freeze them then put them in an airtight freezer bag or container and they will keep for up to three months.
Defrost on the kitchen counter or in a warm oven
How to eat hot cross buns?
Well, how do you like to eat your hot cross buns? Personally I like to cut them in half and toast them a little under the grill. Be careful though as they can burn quickly. I then spread them with butter and jam. Of course, marmalade would also be delicious. Just butter by itself is lovely.
More Easter recipes
I hope you like these easy hot cross buns. Do try one of my other popular Easter recipes:
And if you'd like to know more about the history of hot cross buns in Britain then do read this CountryFile article
Traditional Hot Cross Buns
- Scone cutter
- Baking paper
- 50 g caster sugar
- 7 g fast action yeast
- 450 g strong white flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 100 g currants
- 50 ml milk or 1tbsp dried milk powder plus 50ml water
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- 50 g butter melted
For the Crosses
- 2 tablespoon plain white flour
- a little water
Ingredients for the Glaze
- 1 tablespoon caster sugar
- a little water
- Dissolve 1 teaspoon sugar into 150ml of warm water. Add the yeast and leave it to become frothy.
- Sift the flour, mixed spice and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar, currants and milk powder (if not using milk). Mix in and make a well in the middle.
- Add the yeast mixture, melted butter, egg and most of the water or milk. Mix with a wooden spoon. It should form a dough. Add the extra milk/water slowly if necessary.
- Knead the dough for about 6 minutes then put it in a lightly greased bowl in a warm place to rise. Cover with a damp tea towel or plastic bag. Leave for about 90 minutes till it has doubled in size.
- Knock the dough back and knead briefly. Divide into eight and place on a baking tray with enough room for each to expand. Mark a cross on each one and leave to rise again for about 30 minutes.
- Before putting in the oven make the crosses. Mix a little water into the flour so it forms dough. Form into sausages and lay on top of the buns where the crosses have been marked.
- Bake in the oven at about 220°c for about 12 minutes.
- Put the sugar and water for the glaze in a small saucepan. Heat up until all the sugar has dissolved. As soon as the buns come out of the oven brush them with the glaze and leave to cool slightly.
- Serve warm with butter and jam.
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Keep in touch
Do let me know if you make these hot cross buns or any of my other recipes. I love to get feedback from readers.