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a sweet hot cross bun on a plate
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5 from 1 vote

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns are soft, spiced sweet rolls served warm and studded with dried currants and apricots. They are an Easter tradition made on Good Friday (the Friday before Easter) in many households, especially in the United Kingdom and Australia, although they are so delicious that they should be enjoyed year round for breakfast or dessert!
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Additional Time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs 50 mins
Course: Bread
Cuisine: British
Servings: 12 buns
Calories: 374kcal
Author: Amy Nash

Ingredients

Dough

  • ¼ cup apple juice or water
  • ½ cup dried apricots cranberries, cherries, or blueberries
  • ½ cup dried currants or raisins
  • 1 ¼ cups milk room temperature
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk (save the white for the egg wash)
  • 6 Tablespoons butter at room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon orange zest from 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves or allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ½ cups bread flour or all-purpose flour

Egg Wash

  • 1 large egg white reserved from above
  • 2 teaspoons water

Glaze

  • 2 Tablespoons apricot jam or preserves
  • 1 Tablespoon water

Icing

  • 1 ¼ cups powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1-2 Tablespoons milk or enough to make a thick, pipeable icing

Instructions

Buns

  • Add the dried apricots and currants (or whatever dried fruit you are using) to a medium microwave-safe bowl with the apple juice or water. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 30-45 seconds. The plastic wrap will expand then shrink wrap the bowl, sealing in the hot liquid and helping to soften the dried fruit. Set aside to soak.
  • Meanwhile, warm the milk in the microwave for 45 seconds until warm but not scalding hot. Add 1 teaspoon of the sugar and the yeast, then let it proof for 5-10 minutes until the yeast is nice and foamy. If using instant yeast, you can skim this step of warming the milk and proofing the yeast and instead move on to the next step immediately.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the proofed yeast and milk mixture, eggs and egg yolk (save the egg white for later to use as an egg wash), remaining sugar, orange zest, vanilla, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom, salt, and 2 cups of the flour. Mix until combined, then switch to the dough hook and add the remaining flour.
  • Knead the dough on medium speed until the flour is combined, then start adding the softened butter, one tablespoon at a time. Let the dough knead for about a minute between adding each tablespoon of butter, until all of the butter has been kneaded into the dough and it is nice and smooth. It will be around 7-8 minutes of kneading and the dough will be very sticky, soft, and elastic. Some of it will still be sticking to the bottom of the bowl, although if it is looking really sticky and unmanageable, go ahead and add an extra ½ cup of flour to it. The less flour you can manage with the better though for the softest buns.
  • Add the dried fruit and any soaking liquid that has not been absorbed and knead this into the dough until the fruit is evenly dispersed. You might need to scrape the bowl and turn the dough over by hand once or twice to get the fruit mixed in all the way as my dough hook can't always get the job quite done without a little help.
  • Transfer the dough to a large, greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place to rise until almost doubled in size, around 1-2 hours. This dough may take a bit longer to rise than other yeast doughs and it might not completely double in size because the added fruit and fats inhibit the rise a bit and slow the process down. But it should still be nice and puffy looking. I usually stick my dough in a sunny spot by the window or on the back of the counter by the stove where it is warm.
  • Turn out the dough onto a clean surface and use a bench scraper, sharp knife, or pizza cutter to divide the dough into 12 evenly sized pieces. Shape into balls by pinching the ends underneath to create a nice, smooth surface on top and place them into a grease 9x13-inch baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for 30-60 minutes until they are nice and puffy and touching each other.
  • While the buns are rising, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. When the buns are puffy and ready to go in the oven, whisk the reserved egg white together with 2 teaspoons of water and gently brush over the top of each bun. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the buns are a nice golden brown on top and cooked through (but don't overbake or the buns will be dry).

Apricot Glaze

  • While the buns are still hot, combine the apricot preserves in a bowl with a tablespoon of water and heat in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. Stir together to combine, then use a pastry brush to brush the jam on top of the buns. Let the buns cool for a bit while you make the icing.

Icing

  • Whisk the powdered sugar, vanilla, salt, and enough milk together in a medium bowl to make an icing that can be piped on to the top of the buns. It shouldn't be too thin or it will run right off, so add just enough milk to make it pipeable. If it gets too runny, add a little more powdered sugar. If it is too thick, add more milk until you get the right consistency.
  • Transfer the icing to a ziploc bag and snip off the tip to pipe lines down the middle of the buns going both ways to create the crosses. Serve the hot cross buns while they are still warm.

Notes

  • The buns are best served fresh and warm, although they will be good for 1-2 days and can be reheated for a few seconds in the microwave. If you have any leftover after that, they make delicious french toast if you slice them up, dip them in an egg mixture, and cook them in butter on a hot griddle!

Nutrition

Calories: 374kcal | Carbohydrates: 68g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 49mg | Sodium: 277mg | Potassium: 226mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 27g | Vitamin A: 467IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 52mg | Iron: 1mg