Traditional Hot Cross Buns

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Traditional Hot Cross Buns…the best pastry to celebrate Good Friday and Spring! Sweet brioche-style dough with notes of honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon, and vanilla, loaded with rum soaked raisins, topped with the classic flour cross, and then generously glazed with apricot jam for that extra special touch and shine. The absolute best part about these buns? Every bite is light, fluffy, perfectly sweet, and subtly spiced. Truly, the perfect treat for all of your upcoming Spring get togethers…or simply to enjoy as an afternoon snack. Every last bite is oh so delicious!

overhead shot of hot cross buns with top right bun missing a bite

About The Recipe

Happy April, everyone!

Even though Easter is still a few weeks away, we couldn’t wait to share this recipe! These hot cross buns might just be one of my absolute favorite pastries we’ve shared to date. While they’re time consuming, the end product is sooooo worth it. Every bite is filled with big flavors that compliment each other, from the rum soaked raisins, to the candied lemon peel, and the subtle spices! It’s all SO. GOOD.

We decided to keep this recipe as close to traditional as we possibly could, which meant candying our own lemon peel, rehydrating the raisins, etc. So, when I said this was time consuming…I mean it. It’s not necessarily very hard to make, it just has a lot of moving parts. Then, you just have to sit and wait. Proofing times for the buns aren’t very long, but if you’re like me, it always feels like a lifetime!

Especially when we were first testing this recipe. There are two 45 minute proofs in this recipe, but the first time through, it felt like it was 45 years! We were so excited to just TRY them. Though, when they were finally done, the whole kitchen smelled like heaven.

And with the first bite, we fell in love! It was our first time trying a hot cross bun, and I totally understand the hype. These sweet little treats need to be made ALL. YEAR. LONG.

front shot of hot cross buns on parchment paper with flowers, stack of white plates, honeycomb, jam jar, and stack of coffee mugs behind

Though, we made a small tweak for the finished recipe. Instead of brushing the hot cross buns with simple syrup, we opted for an apricot jam. It gives the buns almost a hint of orange, which really elevates them above the rest and makes them irresistible!

If you’re planning a get-together this Easter, or simply want to bake something sweet this weekend, these delicious Hot Cross Buns are everything you need and more. SO. GOOD.

What Are Hot Cross Buns?

If you’ve been reading up to this point and wondering what the heck I’ve been rambling about, no worries! Let me explain.

Hot Cross Buns are a yeasted sweet bun that date back to the 12th century! They’re traditionally made with various dried fruits (like currants or raisins!) and spices, as well as candied citrus. Before baking, a flour cross is piped on top of each bun, though it can also be piped on with icing/frosting after baking. Hot Cross Buns are generally served on Easter and Good Friday. They’re a wonderful bun with lots of history, and if you’d like to learn more about them, you can Click Here!

Why You Will Love These Hot Cross Buns

  • Full of flavor!
  • Uses homemade candied lemon peel AND lemon zest.
  • Subtly spiced, using THREE different spices.
  • Bakes in 15-18 minutes!
  • Tastes SO. GOOD.
hot cross bun with bite missing stacked on top of another bun with more around and behind

Equipment Needed

Ingredients

(Full ingredient amounts and instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of the post)

For The Candied Lemon Peel:

  • Lemon Peel
  • Water
  • Corn Syrup
  • Granulated Sugar
lemon peel, sugar, water, and corn syrup on marble surface

For The Rum Soaked Raisins:

  • Spiced Rum
  • Raisins
rum and raisins on marble counter

For The Starter:

  • Bread Flour
  • Instant Yeast
  • Whole Milk
milk, flour, and yeast on marble surface

For The Hot Cross Buns:

  • All of the Starter
  • Bread Flour
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Lemon Zest
  • Nutmeg
  • Cinnamon
  • Allspice
  • Kosher Salt
  • Honey
  • Unsalted Butter
  • Large Egg
  • Candied Lemon Peel
  • Rum Soaked Raisins
starter, rehydrated raisins, candied lemon peel, flour, spices, honey, butter, egg, salt, lemon zest, and sugar on marble surface

For The Egg Wash:

  • Large Egg
  • Water
bowl of egg and bowl of water on marble counter

For The Topping:

  • Melted Butter
  • Whole Milk
  • Egg Yolk
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Lemon Zest
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Cake Flour
cake flour, egg yolk, melted butter, milk, vanilla, lemon zest, and sugar on marble surface

For The Glaze:

  • Apricot Jam
apricot jam in glass bowl

How To Make Hot Cross Buns

Step 1: Make the candied lemon peel

Place the lemon peel and 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 30 minutes. Drain. Return the lemon peel to saucepan and add sugar, corn syrup, and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the lemon peel is translucent, about 30 minutes.

Drain and toss the lemon zest with sugar.

Dry the lemon zest by placing in a 250° F oven for 20-30 minutes. Let cool slightly and finely chop. Set aside.

Step 2: Rehydrate the raisins

Place raisins in a small bowl. Pour rum over the top, making sure to cover raisins completely. Cover. Set aside.

Step 3: Make and proof the starter

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, yeast, and milk. Mix on low speed for 2 minutes. Then, increase speed to medium for about 1 minute.

Scrape into a clean bowl and proof for 1 hour at warm room temperature.

Step 4: Make the hot cross bun dough

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine flour, sugar, salt, lemon zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, eggs, butter, honey, and the sponge. Mix on low speed for 4 minutes. Increase speed to high for 4 minutes.

Add the candied lemon peel and plumped raisins. Mix on low speed or by hand until combined.

Step 5: Proof and shape

Place dough in a clean glass bowl. Proof at warm room temperature for 1 hour, or until nearly doubled in bulk.

Divide the dough into 2 ounce portions, forming into rounds as you go. Cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap and let rest 15 minutes.

Reshape each piece of dough into a tight ball. Place 3 inches apart on prepared pans.

Step 6: Make the egg wash

Make egg wash by whisking together the egg and the water in a small bowl.

Step 7: Brush with egg wash and proof

Brush dough balls thoroughly with the egg wash.

Cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Allow dough to rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.

Brush again with egg wash. Allow to dry for 5 minutes.

angled photo of dough balls balls on parchment lined pan

Step 8: Make topping

In a small bowl, whisk together sugar, lemon zest, butter, egg yolk, milk, and vanilla.

Add the cake flour and whisk until smooth. Spoon batter into a piping bag fitted with a #6 tip.

Step 9: Pipe and bake

Pipe one line vertically and one line horizontally across the top of each bun. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown.

Step 10: Melt the jam and brush tops of buns

Place jam in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 15 seconds, or until jam is melted.

melted apricot jam in glass bowl

Brush on top of hot buns.

Store-Bought or Homemade Jam?

For this recipe, you can use either! We used store-bought, but you can definitely make your own apricot jam.

– Hot Cross Buns FAQ’s –

I don’t have a mixer. Can I make the dough by hand?
This dough should be made in a mixer! While it’s doable by hand, it takes twice as long to knead and it’s a lot of work. It’s always best to use a stand mixer.

Why is my dough sticky?
This dough is an ENRICHED dough! It tends to be a little bit more wet and stickier due to the addition of butter, milk, eggs, and sugar.

How can I tell when my dough is kneaded properly?
A properly kneaded dough should be smooth and shiny. Look at the photos above for help!

My raisins/lemon peel won’t mix in!
Sometimes this happens. It’s okay! You can knead the raisins and candied lemon peel by hand.

My dough isn’t rising in the times stated in the recipe card!
The recipe card/post states the times it took our dough to rise. We live in Texas. So, it tends to be a bit warmer here and doughs generally take less time to rise. If needed, you can purchase a bread proofer to help control the climate and improve your rising times.

Why did my dough not rise?
Is your yeast in-date? If not, then you need to get new yeast and try again!

Help! My buns are browning too quickly.
If the hot cross buns are getting too dark too fast, cover them with foil! This will help prevent them from over-browning and let them finish baking.

close up overhead of hot cross buns with white flowers and lemon zest

What To Serve With Hot Cross Buns

These sweet treats are great on their own, but taste EVEN BETTER with something as simple as a smear of honey and light drizzle of honey. If you’re thinking about making a big breakfast at Easter, you can try serving these with our Quick and Easy (No-Yeast!) Cinnamon Rolls or even our Ham and Cheese Croissant Casserole.

How To Store

If there are any leftovers, you can easily store these buns in a zip top bag in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months!

Substitutions

  • Store-bought candied lemon peel may be used to help speed up the process.
  • .If you don’t like spiced rum, you can substitute dark rum. If you want to leave out the alcohol all together, you can substitute apple juice or water!
  • Don’t like raisins? No problem! Cranberries or currants can be used instead.
  • If you don’t like apricot jam, you can brush these buns with Simple Syrup.
overhead shot of 12 hot cross buns on parchment paper with flowers, citrus juicer, jar of jam, wooden honey dipper, honey comb, and measuring cup of raisins around

Expert Tips

  • The candied lemon peel and plumped raisins can be done several days in advance.
  • The candied lemon peel makes exactly enough for this recipe Though, if you’re using store-bought, use 6 Tablespoons.
  • If you don’t want to make the raisins in advance, you can put them in the microwave with the liquid for a few seconds!
  • Make sure you use an instant yeast for this recipe.
  • Check the expiration dates on your spices and yeast!
  • While these buns are easy to make, there is a lot of moving parts to this recipe! Plan accordingly.
  • When shaping the dough for the second time, try to get all the raisins on the inside of the dough. If too many raisins are left on the exterior, they might burn when baking.
  • If you don’t have a piping bag with tips, you can use a zip-top bag and cut the corner off!
  • Watch these buns while they’re in the oven. They made need to be covered to keep from over-browning.

When you make these Traditional Hot Cross Buns, leave a comment down below! We love hearing from you and answering any questions you might have! Also, be sure to tag us on social media and hashtag it #BakersTable.

overhead of twelve hot cross buns on parchment paper with bite taken out of top right bun with white flowers around, a homey comb, jar of jam, citrus juicer, and measuring cup full of raisins

Traditional Hot Cross Buns

Traci
Soft, sweet, loaded with flavor, and so delicious! These Traditional Hot Cross Buns are the perfect pastry to make this Easter/Good Friday. A guaranteed crowd pleaser!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 1 hr 30 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 14 mins
Proofing Time 3 hrs
Total Time 5 hrs 44 mins
Course Breakfast
Cuisine British
Servings 29
Calories 244 kcal

Ingredients
 

Candied Lemon Peel

  • 1 cup lemon peel
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 ⅔ Tablespoons corn syrup
  • 2 cups water, divided
  • extra granulated sugar, to toss lemon peel in

Plumped Raisins

  • cup raisins
  • cup spiced rum

Sponge

  • 2 cup bread flour
  • 2 Tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1 ½ cup whole milk, slightly warm (85°)

Buns

  • 3 cups bread flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
  • 5 ⅓ teaspoons lemon zest
  • teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 ½ teaspoons honey
  • All of the sponge
  • 6 Tablespoons candied lemon peel, finely chopped
  • cup plumped raisins, drained

Egg Wash

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tablespoon water

Topping

  • ¾ cup cake flour
  • 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • teaspoon lemon zest
  • 3 Tablespoons salted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
  • 2 ½ Tablespoons whole milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Glaze

  • ½ cup apricot jam

Instructions

Candied Lemon Peel

  • Place lemon peel and 1 cup water in a small saucepan.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to low and cook for 30 minutes.
  • Drain.
  • Return lemon peel to saucepan.
  • Add sugar, corn syrup, and water.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to a low simmer.
  • Cook, stirring occasionally, until lemon peel is translucent, about 30 minutes.
  • Drain.
  • Toss with sugar.
  • Dry by placing in a 250° F oven for 20-30 minutes or leave out for 24 hours.
  • Finely chop. Set aside.

Plumped Raisins

  • Place raisins in a small bowl.
  • Pour rum over the top, making sure to cover raisins completely.
  • Cover. Set aside.

Sponge

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, yeast, and milk.
  • Mix on low speed for 2 minutes.
  • Increase speed to medium for 1 minute.
  • Scrape into a clean bowl.
  • Proof for 1 hour at warm room temperature (80° F). If not using a proofing box with a water tray, cover bowl with plastic wrap.

Buns

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine flour, sugar, salt, lemon zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, eggs, butter, honey, and the sponge.
  • Mix on low speed for 4 minutes.
  • Increase speed to high for 4 minutes.
  • Add lemon peel and raisins.
  • Mix on low speed or by hand until combined.
  • Place dough in a clean glass bowl.
  • Proof at warm room temperature (80° F) for 1 hour, or until nearly doubled in bulk. If not using a proofing box with a water tray, make sure to cover the dough with plastic wrap.
  • Line 3 sheet pans with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • Divide the dough into 2 ounce portions, forming into rounds as you go.
  • Cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap.
  • Let rest 15 minutes.
  • While dough is resting, make egg wash by whisking together the egg and the water in a small bowl.
  • Reshape each piece of dough into a tight ball.
  • Place 3 inches apart on prepared pans.
  • Brush with egg wash.
  • Cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
  • Heat oven to 375° F.
  • Allow dough to rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.
  • Brush again with egg wash.
  • Allow to dry for 5 minutes.

Topping

  • In a small bowl, whisk together sugar, lemon zest, butter, egg yolk, milk, and vanilla.
  • Add flour.
  • Whisk until smooth.
  • Spoon batter into a piping bag fitted with a #6 tip.
  • Pipe one line vertically and one line horizontally across the top of each bun.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown.

Glaze

  • Place jam in a microwave safe bowl.
  • Microwave on high for 15 seconds, or until jam is melted.
  • Brush on top of hot buns.

Notes

  • The candied lemon peel and plumped raisins can be done several days in advance.
  • The candied lemon peel makes exactly enough for this recipe Though, if you’re using store-bought, use 6 Tablespoons.
  • If you don’t want to make the raisins in advance, you can put them in the microwave with the liquid for a few seconds!
  • Make sure you use an instant yeast for this recipe.
  • Check the expiration dates on your spices and yeast!
  • While these buns are easy to make, there is a lot of moving parts to this recipe! Plan accordingly.
  • When shaping the dough for the second time, try to get all the raisins on the inside of the dough. If too many raisins are left on the exterior, they might burn when baking.
  • If you don’t have a piping bag with tips, you can use a zip-top bag and cut the corner off!
  • Watch these buns while they’re in the oven. They made need to be covered to keep from over-browning.

Nutrition

Serving: 1bunCalories: 244kcalCarbohydrates: 41gProtein: 5gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 39mgSodium: 270mgPotassium: 125mgFiber: 2gSugar: 17gVitamin A: 204IUVitamin C: 7mgCalcium: 36mgIron: 1mg

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

When you make this recipe, remember to tag @bakerstble or hashtag it #BakersTable!

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