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Hot Cross Buns

Servings: 12

Hot cross buns are a beloved staple of the United Kingdom and in countries colonized by the British, such as Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. They can be baked as rounds, on a large sheet pan, or as pull-apart rolls in a smaller 9×13-inch buttered baking dish.


For the dough

  • 1/2 cup whole or 2 percent milk
  • 13 oz. (3 cups) bread flour; more for shaping
  • 1/4 oz. (1 packet) rapid-rise (instant) yeast
  • 3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 oz. (8 Tbs.) unsalted butter, softened; more for the pan
  • 1-1/2 tsp. fine sea salt or table salt
  • 1/3 cup each golden and dark raisins, soaked together in 1/4 cup hot water and 2 Tbs. dark rum for 20 minutes, drained
  • 2 tsp. finely grated orange zest
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • Nonstick cooking spray

For shaping, baking, and icing

  • Unsalted butter, for the baking dish (optional)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2-1/2 tsp. fresh orange juice

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 270
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 90
  • Fat (g): 10
  • Saturated Fat (g): 6
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 3
  • Cholesterol (mg): 85
  • Sodium (mg): 310
  • Carbohydrates (g): 40
  • Fiber (g): 1
  • Sugar (g): 15
  • Protein (g): 6


Make the dough

  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk to a boil. Let cool until just warm (110°F), about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, combine 1 cup of the flour with the yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir in 1/2 cup very warm water (about 120°F), and form into a ball. Cover the bowl lightly with plastic wrap. Set the bowl in a warm spot until the mixture has visible bubbles on its surface, about 30 minutes.
  • Put the bowl in the mixer stand, and fit the mixer with the dough hook. On medium speed, beat in the egg yolks, sugar, butter, and salt, scraping the bowl occasionally. With the mixer running, add the milk and continue to beat until combined (it’s fine if there are a few lumps), about 2 minutes. Gradually add the remaining 2 cups flour. Raise the speed to medium-high, and knead until the dough is smooth, about 5 minutes. The dough will be soft and may not form a ball. Stop the mixer, add the raisins, orange zest, cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves, and continue to mix until incorporated, 1 minute.
  • Lightly coat a bowl with the cooking spray. Transfer the dough to the bowl and cover with plastic. Let rise in a warm place until the dough is doubled in size, 60 to 75 minutes.

Shape the dough

  • Line a 9×13-inch baking dish with parchment, or coat lightly with butter.
  • Gently scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface (try not to use more than 1 to 2 Tbs. of extra flour). Divide the dough in half, and then divide each half into two pieces. Divide each dough quarter into three pieces, making a total of 12. Using lightly floured hands, gently round each dough into a ball and transfer to the baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap, and set in a warm place until the dough balls have doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Bake and ice the buns

  • Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 375°F. Just before baking, whisk the egg with 1 Tbs. water in a small bowl, and use a pastry brush to brush the buns with the egg wash. Bake until deep golden to amber, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool for 15 minutes before icing.
  • Put the confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl, and stir in the vanilla. Stir in just enough of the juice to make a thick icing. Using a piping bag with a plain tip or a paper cone, pipe a cross onto each bun. Store the buns in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.


Rate or Review

Reviews (11 reviews)

  • mycoleptodiscus | 04/17/2022

    The reason for adding the spices later is that spices are anti microbial. They inhibit the yeast growth. I forgot to buy yeast so used my sourdough starter instead. As a result, it was a very slow series of risings over most of a day. As a Scandinavian, the amount of cardamom was perfect! I hand ground in a mortar. My baking time was almost double! After 20 min the top was barely tan. The house smelled amazing. The crumb ended up perfect. I agree with the sentiment that it needs more fruit. I also soaked the raisins in 1/2 rum, 1/2 water for a little more flavor.

  • highcroft | 04/02/2021

    Disappointed in this recipe. I would use less cardamom, more cinnamon. Instead of orange zest I would use candied peel for more flavour. The zest just disappeared. I may have overcooked, as the buns were dry.

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