Hot Cross Buns

Last year I vowed I would try to make my own hot cross buns in the future, as they are not available in Germany. The traditional English bun for Good Friday is one of my favourites – a spiced teacake, with juicy sultanas or raisins toasted and spread with plenty of butter. (The alternative to a crumpet for afternoon tea!) Since my Man of Many Talents is not particularly keen on raisins etc, I pondered on what I could substitute them with… Apparently several large UK stores sell them with chunks of Belgian chocolate, so chocolate chips it was! I made up the whole dough with the spices and then halved it, adding sultanas to one half and chocolate chips to the other. They were both delicious and there is no looking back; home made are definitely much better!



My recipe is based on one from the BBC Food website, but I made a few slight changes.


  • 250ml (1 cup) milk
  • 50g (3 1/2 tbsps) butter
  • 500g (1 lb) strong flour
  • 7g (1/4 oz) packet of instant dried yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 75g (1/3 cup) sugar
  • 1 organic, free-range egg
  • 2 tsps ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsps allspice
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • a little nutmeg
  • a pinch of mace
  • zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
  • 150g (5 oz) seedless sultanas OR 75g (2 1/2 oz) milk chocolate chips (I used half for each half of the dough)

For the crosses: 75g (2 1/2 oz) flour, 2 tsps sugar and 4 tbsps water (or a little more)

For the glaze: 2 tbsps apricot (or similar) jam, warmed

First bring the milk to the boil, remove from heat and stir in butter, until it has melted. Leave to cool. Then sift together the flour, salt, yeast and sugar. When the milk is hand warm, use a wooden spoon to stir it into the flour mixture with the beaten egg. With your hands, form into a dough and on a floured surface knead for 5-10 minutes. Place dough in a clean bowl and drizzle a little oil over it. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size. (1-2 hours)

Punch down the dough, and knead in the mixed spices and orange/lemon zest. Now add the sultanas or chocolate chips and knead well. Divide the dough into 16 pieces and place on a baking tray lined with parchment. Cover with a tea towel again and leave to rise for another hour or so.

Meanwhile mix the flour, sugar and water for the crosses. The consistency required is a thick paste, but thin enough to pipe with a piping bag and a thin nozzle. Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Once the buns have risen again, pipe the paste over the tops in a cross and bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately glaze with the warmed jam, using a pastry brush, then leave to cool a little.


They taste fabulous while still warm, with a little butter. But they were also delicious cold, and they are good toasted with butter the next day too!

(They also freeze well)


50 thoughts on “Hot Cross Buns

  1. This looks so wonderfully delicious. It is 220am and you have me feeling hungry 🙂 I will certainly give this recipe a try. Thank you for sharing and I look forward to learning from you in the future 🙂 I recently started a food blog too and hopefully will have it as informative as yours 🙂 Natasha

    • Donna, I’m so glad I tried making them myself as they really are good…. a little fiddly with the crosses, but well worth the effort. 😀

  2. Oh, so happy to see this! I used to make these when my daughters were small, but I haven’t in years. You’ve inspired me to get back at it! I used to put dried currants in my sweet breads rather than raisins. Chocolate chips sounds wonderful! Thank you!

  3. Das ist ein schönes Gebäck und schmeckt bestimmt lecker. We don´t have any pastry or cake for Good Friday. We eat tradionally Fish on this day ~ Silent Day (translated from Low German “Still Fridag).

  4. No hot cross buns in Germany? … yet you can buy them pretty much year-round in the UK now. Your hot cross buns look very good Cathy. I’ve just taken my first home made hot cross buns out of the oven – made using a recipe involving Guinness and spices, possibly not very authentic but they smell good! Have a great Easter weekend!

    • Guinness sounds an interesting ingredient! The Germans eat a light Easter bread too, but not spiced and not toasted. Not half as good in my eyes! Have a lovely Easter too Sarah!

  5. It is interesting that spices are an essential ingredient of many of the foods associated with the festivals of Easter and Christmas. Is this an Eastern influence from the early Church or just a reflection of spices being a luxury and saved for special occasions?

    • I’m not sure when spices were first used in yeasted breads in the UK, but I have read that these types of bread were banned in Elizabethan times except at Christmas and Good Friday (the crosses were viewed with suspicion by the Puritans, considered to be too Catholic), and this might explain why the tradition has stuck for just Christmas and Easter today…. if you ever find out more I’d also love to be enlightened!

  6. Yes, yes and yes! You must be so pleased with the results. I watched Paul Hollywood make some last week and he added chopped apple too which looked nice. Happy Easter Cathy x

  7. In a biography of a kitchen maid the author wrote, that they played rope skipping as children and while doing that they sang: Hot cross buns, one a penny, two a penny hot cross buns. I immediately thought of that when I read you post 😉
    Yours look amazing! As I’m not keen on raisins myself I like that you used chocolate instead.

    • That song always goes through my head at Easter! The chocolate and the warm spices were good… you’d just have to leave out the citrus zest. 😦

  8. Wonderful! Here in Canada, it seems that the commercial bakeries (and most of the home bakers I know) use glace cherries and other dried fruit (not just raisins) in hot cross buns and I’m not a fan. I never thought to try them with chocolate – that’s a fabulous substitution! I hope I can get around to baking some yet this weekend! 🙂

  9. They look soooooo good! Hot Cross Buns are one of my favourite ever things! I actually buy them all year round (for some reason the supermarket I shop at usually has them in stock through most of the year). I eat them instead of cakes, biscuits or chocolate. Toasted with butter on is my very favourite way of eating them, especially with a cup of tea!

    I have always been a bit nervous of making them myself, but I might just give it a go when my current pack run out.

    • I used to be nervous about bread dough too, but it really is easy. Just find a nice warm spot for the dough to rise and you can’t go wrong. And they really are better than the ones in the shops! 😉

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