English Hot Cross Buns

Clare Chambers


Hot cross buns!
Hot cross buns!
One ha' penny, two ha' penny,
Hot cross buns!
If you have no daughters,
Give them to your sons
One ha' penny,
Two ha' penny,
Hot Cross Buns!

Whilst this ancient bun is associated with Christianity both the pagans and ancients Greeks also made fruited buns marked into quarters. Legend has it in 1361 Father Rocliffe of St Albans Abbey baked fruited buns marked with a cross and distributed them to the poor. Whatever you believe I hope you enjoy these ancient traditional English buns.


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30 Min
20 Min


  • 350 g
    white bread flour
  • 100 g
    stone ground bread flour
  • 50 g
    caster sugar (superfine)
  • 1 tsp
  • 2 tsp
  • 1/4 tsp
    freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1
    7 gram sachet dried yeast
  • 50 g
  • 150 g
    raisins - soaked overnight
  • 200 ml
    milk warmed
  • 2
    eggs - beaten

  • 4 oz
    plain flour (all purpose)
  • ·
    pinch of salt
  • 3 oz
  • 1 tsp
    caster sugar (superfine) - gently rounded
  • 1
    egg - beaten

  • 75 g
    plain flour (all purpose)
  • 4-5 Tbsp

  • 4 Tbsp
  • 2 Tbsp
    caster sugar (superfine)

How to Make English Hot Cross Buns


  1. The previous evening weigh out raisins, put in suitable container and cover with boiling water. The next day put both the flours, sugar, salt mixed spice, nutmeg and yeast into a large bowl and mix well. Add the butter and rub in to the mix until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  2. Drain the raisins (discard the water) and stir into the flour mix. Make a well in the centre and pour in the warm milk and eggs. Gradually draw the flour into the liquid to make a very soft dough.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead thoroughly for 10 minutes. If the dough is very sticky, knead in a little extra white bread flour until it no longer sticks to your fingers. Return the dough to the bowl and cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm room until doubled in size – about 1 hour.
  4. Knock back the risen dough on a lightly floured work surface and divide into 12 pieces and shape them into balls. Place balls of dough on a prepared baking tray (well greased with butter) making sure you set them well apart. You need to cover in Clingfilm and leave to double in size again – about 45 minutes or overnight if you place in the fridge. You also need to make sure the plastic does not touch the dough. I use a cup in each corner and wrap the Clingfilm over that.
  5. Heat the oven to 200C. To make the cross. Option 1: Sift the flour, salt and sugar into a bowl and cut in the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the beaten egg and combine until it forms a dough. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Roll out on a lightly floured surface quite thinly (about 2-3mm) and cut into 24 strips about 7 inches long. Option 2: Mix the flour and water to make a smooth thick paste that can be piped. Spoon the paste into a piping bag or tube.
  6. When the buns have risen, uncover them and make a cross on each one with either the pastry strips or by piping. Place the baking tray of buns in the oven for about 15 – 20 minutes, until golden brown.
  7. Meanwhile, make the sticky glaze by heating the milk and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Boil for 1 minute and then brush over the buns as soon as you take them out of the oven. Transfer to a wire rack and cool. To serve: cut in half and toast, then smother in butter.
  8. If you used option 1 for the cross you will have some left over pastry – I make English jam tarts with mine. be aware this pastry shrinks so do not fill the tarts more than half full.

Printable Recipe Card

About English Hot Cross Buns

Main Ingredient: Flour
Regional Style: English
Other Tag: Heirloom

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