Light and fluffy Hot Cross Buns made from scratch. These beautiful Easter buns are made using instant dried yeast and are filled with juicy dried fruit, fresh orange zest and warm spices.
Got Hot Cross Bun fever? Time to make your own!
It’s that time of year again when Hot Cross Buns grace our supermarket and bakery shelves. But nothing beats making these beautiful Easter buns from scratch.
While it may be a little more time-consuming than say a batch of cookies, there is nothing more therapeutic than making bread from scratch.
Fresh out of the oven, these Hot Cross Buns are light and fluffy on the inside and shiny and golden on the outside.
Filled with plump, juicy fruit, fresh orange zest and a handful of spices, they’re a flavour-packed Easter treat.
why you will love this recipe
- The buns are soft and light
- They’re packed with juicy soaked fruit
- It makes 12 large buns
- They’re freezer friendly
- Perfect for Easter celebrations
what are Hot Cross Buns?
Hot Cross Buns are spiced bread buns traditionally enjoyed over Easter. They’re filled with dried fruit, brushed with a sweet sugar glaze and are marked by a signature flour cross on the top.
These days they’re many different variations, but typically Hot Cross Buns are filled with sultanas or raisins and flavoured with warm spices like cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.
I’ve been making and tweaking this Hot Cross Bun recipe for years – and I’m finally sharing my tried and true version. Based on my favourite (and oh-so-popular) Cinnamon Roll recipe, these bread buns are made using instant dried yeast.
The bread itself has dried fruit, orange zest and a handful of spices to ensure they’re anything but bland. And it’s an enriched dough made with butter and milk.
Over the years, I’ve slightly reduced the flour to create a lighter bun – no dense, dry buns around here thanks. I’ve also played around with the quantity of fruit and spices.
To make these buns extra special, I love to use our hack for juicy fruit from my ultimate Fruit Cake recipe – soaking the dried fruit in juice before adding it to the buns. This ensures the fruit is extra moist and flavourful.
A simple sugar glaze makes these Hot Cross Buns complete. The final touch is a generous slathering of butter when they’re fresh from the oven.
Here’s what you will need to make a batch of Hot Cross Buns from scratch:
- Instant yeast
- Plain flour: Or all purpose flour.
- Dried fruit: You can use sultanas, raisins or mixed dried fruit of your choosing, as long as it adds up to 1 cup.
- Fruit juice: Use your favourite juice to soak your dried fruit first to ensure they’re extra plump and juicy. Try orange or apple juice.
- Orange zest
- Milk: Use full fat or whole milk.
- Unsalted butter
- Caster sugar: Or granulated sugar.
how to make HOT CROSS BUNs
This bread bun recipe is made using instant yeast. I’ve included instructions for making these Hot Cross Buns using a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, but you can absolutely make these by hand if you don’t have one.
Follow the recipe as written and simply stir the dough using a spatula until it comes together enough for you to knead it gently by hand.
Here’s a quick overview of how to make them, but the full instructions are included in the recipe card below.
- Add yeast to warm water to check it’s fresh and ready to use.
- Warm dried fruit, zest and juice and set aside until plump and cooled.
- Melt together butter and milk.
- Add flour and spices together.
Make the dough:
- Mix together sugar, salt, eggs, melted butter and milk, flour and spices.
- Add dried fruit, yeast and water. Mix until dough comes together.
- Knead on a lightly floured bench until smooth.
- Cover and leave to prove for 1 hour. Dough should double in size.
soak the fruit
To ensure these buns are filled with plenty of plump, juicy fruit, I recommend soaking the dried fruit in juice first. We use this same technique in my Fruit Cake recipe and it works a treat.
All you need to do is add some juice to your dried fruit and microwave it for 1 minute or until warm. As it cools, the fruit with hydrate and become plump. You can then discard the juice and add the fruit to the dough.
You can use sultanas, raisins or mixed dried fruit of your choice in these buns.
shape the dough
The next step is shaping the dough into 12 equal-sized balls. The easiest way to do this is by weighing the dough and diving it by 12. I usually find that each bun will need to be around 85-90 grams of dough.
Grab the dough and gently roll it into a ball on the bench using the palm of your hand. Place on a baking tray lined with baking or parchment paper in four rows of three, with space in-between each bun.
The buns will then need to rest for another 30 minutes or so, until they are touching. Then it will be time to add the flour cross before baking.
the flour cross
The trademark of a traditional Hot Cross Bun is the white cross on top of each bun. This crisscross pattern is made using a simple mixture of flour and water. The paste is then piped over the buns after they have proofed, but before they are baked.
The final, but crucial step in making a beautiful Hot Cross Bun is the sugar glaze. This is a simple sugar syrup made from sugar and water.
Heat the water and sugar together on the stove until the sugar is dissolved. Then use a pastry brush to generously glaze the buns while they are still warm from the oven.
frequently asked questions
No, this step is optional. But I think it’s worth it for the added moisture it gives to the fruit. However, if you are short on time or don’t have juice, you can absolutely just add the dried fruit as it is.
Yes. You can use sultanas, raisins or mixed dried fruit of your choosing, as long as it adds up to 1 cup total.
Hot cross buns are best eaten on the day they are made but you can freeze them. Once completely cooled, cover buns in plastic wrap and freeze. To defrost, heat in the microwave for 20-30 seconds until warm.
If your Hot Cross Buns are dry, tough or dense, it could be the result of adding too much flour to your dough. I highly recommend using a baking scale to measure out your flour. Also, be careful not to add too much extra flour when kneading and shaping your dough. Keep an eye on your buns in the oven as over-baking them will also cause them to dry out.
Light and fluffy homemade Hot Cross Buns made from scratch.
Hot cross buns
- 120 ml (1/2 cup) warm water
- 2 and 1/4 teaspoon instant dried yeast
- 490 grams (3 and 1/2 cups) plain flour or all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
- 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 180 grams (1 cup) dried fruit (see notes)
- Zest of 2 oranges, finely grated
- 80 ml (1/3 cup) storebought orange or apple juice
- 120 ml (1/2 cup) full fat or whole milk
- 60 grams (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
- 65 grams (1/3 cup) caster sugar or granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 45 grams (1/3 cup) plain flour or all purpose flour
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) water
- 50 grams (1/4 cup) caster sugar or granulated sugar
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) water
- To start
Line a 9 by 13 inch baking pan or oven tray with baking or parchment paper and set aside.
- Add warm water to a small bowl and sprinkle yeast over the top and leave for a few minutes to react.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.
- Soak fruit
In a heatproof bowl, add dried fruit, orange zest, juice and stir. Heat in the microwave for 1 minute and then stir. Cover the bowl of fruit with a large plate and let it sit for at least 15 minutes. Fruit will soak up the juice and become plump.
- Discard any juice in the bottom of the bowl. Place dried fruit on a paper towel and pat dry. Leave to cool.
- Melt milk and butter
Add milk and butter to a small saucepan and place on a low heat, stirring, while the milk warms and the butter melts.
- Once the butter is melted, remove the milk mixture from the heat. If it is hot to the touch, leave to cool for a minute or two. You want the milk to be warm but not hot. Also, check your yeast has reacted and started to bubble a little on the edges.
- Make dough
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, add sugar, salt and eggs. Add milk and butter mixture and flour and spices. Add dried fruit. Start to beat on medium speed.
- Add yeast mixture, water and all, and continue to mix until a nice soft dough forms. Once the dough comes together, remove it from the bowl and place it on a lightly floured bench.
- Lightly flour your hands and knead the dough by hand for a few minutes or until it is soft and smooth. Add a little extra flour to the bench and/or your hands if it gets a little too sticky to work with – but add it sparingly as we want the dough to be nice and light.
- Let dough rise
Bring your dough into a ball and place in a large mixing bowl that has been lightly greased with butter or oil. Cover with plastic wrap and leave it to rise for approximately 1 hour or until it’s doubled in size.
- Shape dough
Next, gently push the air out of your dough using your fist. Then take the dough out of the bowl and knead gently for a minute before cutting it into 12 even-sized balls of dough.
- Gently shape into balls and then place on prepared pan in four rows of three. Leave space in between each roll. Once they rise again, they should be touching.
- Let dough rest
Cover with cling wrap and leave to rise for at least 30 minutes. Or until they have all joined together and almost doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 200 C (390 F) standard / 180 C (355 F) fan-forced.
- Make flour paste
Sift your flour into a small bowl. Add water and stir until smooth. Transfer your flour mixture to a piping bag fitted with a small tip and pipe a straight line over the buns, horizontally and then again, vertically to form a cross on each one.
- Bake buns
Bake buns for approximately 18-20 minutes or until golden brown on top.
- Make sugar glaze
Just before the buns are ready, start making the sugar glaze. Add your sugar and water to a small saucepan and place on a medium heat until sugar has completely dissolved. As soon as the buns are ready, remove them from the oven and then immediately brush them with the sugar glaze.
Instant yeast: I tested this recipe using instant yeast. It does not need blooming and can be added straight into the dough. However, I prefer to add it to warm water as instructed in step 1 to double check it’s fresh and alive before continuing. If you want to use a different type of yeast, check online for a reliable conversion.
Dried fruit: You can use sultanas, raisins or mixed dried fruit of your choosing, as long as it adds up to 1 cup total.
Soaking fruit: This step is optional. If you do not want to soak the fruit first, you can simply add your dried fruit to the dough when you add the flour and spices.
By hand: I’ve included instructions for making these Hot Cross Buns using a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, but you can absolutely make these by hand if you don’t have one. Follow the recipe as written and simply stir the dough using a spatula until it comes together enough for you to knead it gently by hand.
Shaping the dough: The easiest way to shape the dough evenly into 12 balls is by weighing the dough and diving it by 12. I usually find that each bun will need to be around 85-90 grams of dough.
Storage: Hot cross buns are best eaten on the day they are made. Keep leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature or cover in plastic wrap and freeze. To defrost, heat in the microwave for 20-30 seconds until warm.