Hot Cross Buns
Updated: Apr 27
Traditionally eaten on Good Friday to mark the end of Lent, and a must-have for Easter brunch, these slightly sweet yeast-leavened buns filled with spices and fruit are a cross between a dinner roll and a cinnamon roll. Hot Cross Buns are much more than a nursery rhyme and the first song kids learn to play on a recorder. They’re super soft and plushy, yet a little dense, and filled with warm spices, bright citrus, studded with raisins, and brushed with a sweet apricot glaze. These tender, aromatic bins are decorated with a white cross, both etched into the dough and on top with vanilla icing. Whether you celebrate Easter or not, these classic buns can be enjoyed year-round by everyone.
Makes 15-16 buns
1½ cups whole milk, lukewarm (105-115°F)
½ cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp active dry yeast
4½ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
2 large eggs, room temperature
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup raisins
Zest of 1 orange
½ cup all-purpose flour
1½ tsp granulated white sugar
⅓ cup water
3 Tbsp apricot jam
1 tsp water
1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 Tbsp whole milk
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
In a small bowl, combine the lukewarm milk, sugar, and yeast. Stir to combine and let it rest for about 10 minutes until the yeast is activated (it’ll be bubbly and foamy).
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg until combined.
Add the eggs, butter, and vanilla to the yeast mixture after the yeast has activated and stir together. Pour the yeast mixture into the flour mixture and use the dough hook attachment to mix together for 5 minutes.
After 5 minutes, add in the raisins and orange zest and continue mixing for another minute. If the dough is too wet add more flour as needed. The dough should be smooth and elastic, and it shouldn't stick to the sides of the bowl.
Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with oiled plastic wrap, and leave to rise for approximately 1-1.5 hours, or until doubled in size.
Punch down the dough and cut it into 15 or 16 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a smooth ball on a lightly floured surface. Place the rolls fairly close together on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with a clean damp towel leave to rise for another 45 minutes-1 hour, or until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Whisk the flour and sugar with enough water until it is of piping consistency.
Transfer the flour mixture to a piping bag fitted with a tip or a plastic bag with a corner sniped off. Working quickly, pipe a thick cross on top of each bun.
Bake for about 16-20 or until golden brown.
While the buns are baking, make the syrup by combining the jam with the water in a small microwave-safe bowl. Heat in a microwave for 30 seconds-1 minute until melted. Stir to combine.
As soon as the buns come out of the oven, brush them with the warm apricot glaze. Allow the buns to cool completely before icing.
Stir together the confectioners' sugar, milk, and vanilla until smooth. Transfer the icing to a piping bag fitted with a tip or a plastic bag with a corner sniped off. Pipe the icing over the cooled buns to form a thick cross shape.