Hot cross buns

Hot cross buns

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(93 ratings)

Prep: 30 mins Cook: 20 mins Plus proving

Moderately easy

Makes 15
Follow master baker Paul Hollywood's ultimate step-by-step guide to creating perfectly decorated fruit buns

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable

Nutrition per serving

  • kcalories226
  • fat4g
  • saturates2g
  • carbs41g
  • sugars14g
  • fibre2g
  • protein5g
  • salt0.5g
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For the buns

  • 300ml full-fat milk, plus 2 tbsp more



    One of the most widely used ingredients, milk is often referred to as a complete food. While cow…

  • 50g butter



    Butter is made when lactic-acid producing bacteria are added to cream and churned to make an…

  • 500g strong bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil

    Sunflower oil

    A variety of oils can be used for baking. Sunflower is the one we use most often at Good Food as…

  • 7g sachet fast-action or easy-blend yeast



    Yeast is a living, single-cell organism. As the yeast grows, it converts its food (in the form…

  • 1 egg, beaten



    The ultimate convenience food, eggs are powerhouses of nutrition, packed with protein and a…

  • 75g sultana
  • 50g mixed peel
  • zest 1 orange



    One of the best-known citrus fruits, oranges aren't necessarily orange - some varieties are…

  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped



    Grown in temperate regions, apples are one of the most widely cultivated tree fruits. There are…

  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

For the cross

  • 75g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

For the glaze

  • 3 tbsp apricot jam

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  1. Bring the milk to the boil, then remove from the heat and add the butter. Leave to cool until it reaches hand temperature. Put the flour, salt, sugar and yeast (see Tip, below) into a bowl. Make a well in the centre. Pour in the warm milk and butter mixture, then add the egg. Using a wooden spoon, mix well, then bring everything together with your hands until you have a sticky dough.

  2. Tip on to a lightly floured surface and knead by holding the dough with one hand and stretching it with the heal of the other hand, then folding it back on itself. Repeat for 5 mins until smooth and elastic. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hr or until doubled in size and a finger pressed into it leaves a dent.

  3. With the dough still in the bowl, tip in the sultanas, mixed peel, orange zest, apple and cinnamon. Knead into the dough, making sure everything is well distributed. Leave to rise for 1 hr more, or until doubled in size, again covered by some well-oiled cling film to stop the dough getting a crust.

  4. Divide the dough into 15 even pieces (about 75g per piece – see Tip below). Roll each piece into a smooth ball on a lightly floured work surface. Arrange the buns on one or two baking trays lined with parchment, leaving enough space for the dough to expand. Cover (but don’t wrap) with more oiled cling film, or a clean tea towel, then set aside to prove for 1 hr more.

  5. Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Mix the flour with about 5 tbsp water to make the paste for the cross – add the water 1 tbsp at a time, so you add just enough for a thick paste. Spoon into a piping bag with a small nozzle. Pipe a line along each row of buns, then repeat in the other direction to create crosses (see Tip below). Bake for 20 mins on the middle shelf of the oven, until golden brown.

  6. Gently heat the apricot jam to melt, then sieve to get rid of any chunks. While the jam is still warm, brush over the top of the warm buns and leave to cool.

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Comments, questions and tips

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Comments (145)

sonya80's picture

Lovely, light buns. Made these yesterday after reading all the comments. Did the three proves and baked for 12 mins which was perfect. I added 2 tsp cinnamon, 1.5tsp mixed spice and a grating of nutmeg to the flour mix at the beginning. Used golden caster sugar, 125g wholemeal/375g white flour and unsweetened almond milk. Left out the apple and orange zest and used seedless raisins and currants as had some in the cupboard with some lemon zest. Glazed with 2tbsp golden caster sugar to 1tbsp water, melted together. Didn't bother with the crosses so were just fruit buns.

Cinny's picture
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I've just made two batches and followed previous comments : added more spice, including Mixed Spice and Nutmeg, mixed the spices and fruit (only had sultanas in Spain, didn't bother with the zest and apple) into the flour before adding the liquid. Proved it, re-kneaded, shaped the buns then proved again. Having mixed everything at the start I didn't see much point in proving three times and sure enough, turned out fabulous! Keep a sharp eye on the baking times though, the 2nd batch took less than 15 minutes.
I also used icing sugar as suggested for the cross (should have seen the mess when my piping bag burst!) and used my home made lemon and ginger marmalade as a glaze as that was all I had. Both batches turned out delicious and with all the tweaking of the recipe I give it 5 stars.

MrsDarbs's picture
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I just made these and very glad I read all the comments about the lack of flavour before I began.
I made the following changes;
increased the amount of cinnamon
Added 1.5tsp mixed spice
Grating of nutmeg
Orange essence
More butter
More flour as the milk made it like a cake texture.
My electric whisk has a kneading attachment so used that
I only proved once for 1 hour 15 mins under hot radiator in blankets.
I turned the temperature down to 175C and left for the same 15 mins as they caught at 190C.
I also added some icing sugar to the flour mix for the cross.
I didn't have any apricot jam so I used orange marmalade.

It does seem a lot of changes are made by everyone, but as any recipe it is a guide and just one person's taste.

For my first try ever at HCB, it worked a treat!

KateB's picture
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Made these yesterday and they were absolutely delicious! Stuck exactly with the measurements and they turned out perfect, I will definitely be making them again very shortly!

keiferYYC's picture
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Made these yesterday and they turned out great! I followed the suggestions to up the cinnamon, so I used 1 1/2 tsp which I though was just right after tasting one; after all, these aren't cinnamon buns. I also don't drink full fat milk and I'm not going to buy a litre just for this, so I used 200 ml of 33% cream and he rest with skim milk. I wasn't too worried about my ratio as this is an enriched dough, so the extra fat wasn't going to hurt. I also upped the sultanas a bit as well as the peel, as I like some bits in every bite. My complaint is the supermarket is always stingy with it, hence making my own, and with this recipe, from now on. When all was said and done I think each bun was around 80 g, which is big, but you only need one to toast!

I too questioned not putting the cinnamon in with the flour to get an even mix, because it won't - at least for me it didn't - evenly distribute during the folding in with the fruit without over handling the dough. After cutting open and toasting a few, I rather like the unevenness, which isn't drastic if you have done a good job of working the fruit in. It suggests the complete opposite of a store bought bun.

I did all three rises, as I felt it might give better flavour and I wasn't in a hurry, so perhaps next time I will try two to see if there's a difference. I also took the other suggestion to make the cross with 2/3 flour to 1/3 confectioners sugar - which is basically a two to one ratio - so 1/4 cup of flour and two tablespoons of confectioners sugar was the perfect amount to dress all the buns. Note that it will spread when baking, so a 1/4" piping will look just about right on these buns. Lastly, yes, keep an eye on these babies, as you don't want to over bake them, as they are abit of work, but so worth it.

marychef's picture

Love these. Just made them and they are gorgeous but agree with the cooking time comments. I had problems with the cross bit, so 6 of them are hot cross buns and the reat are just buns!

janaskar's picture
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Oops forgot to rate! Well worth 5 stars!

janaskar's picture
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First attempt at making hot cross buns. Read all the reviews before I started. Added mixed spice, nutmeg and more cinnamon and added it to the dry ingredients in the beginning. Used sultanas, dried cranberries and dried blueberries( left from previous recipes) together with the apple and orange peel. Didn't have jam or golden syrup so made a glaze from 45g caster sugar, 25ml boiling water and half a teaspoon of vanilla. Made 15 rolls and took 15 min to bake. Delicious and moist and very yummy!!!

kak's picture

Quite disappointed in this recipe - definitely lacking a lot of spice!!! Wish I had read all the comments before I started. Also, I found it quite difficult to really mix in the fruit and cinnamon thoroughly so found the final result kind of "streaky".

Leopoldoni's picture
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Wonderful! I would say that they need way more spice than 1tsp of cinnamon... perhaps some mixed spice too. More sultanas needed also, although these were really hard to mix in after the dough has risen the first time. But makes a fantastically light and tasty bun.

mochimoo's picture
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A keeper of a recipe that makes really soft tasty buns! Made these last week and making them again today they were such a hit. I followed the recipe to proof three times but as suggested in other reviews I upped the spices and used 2 teaspoons cinnamon, half teaspoon ginger and a few gratings of nutmeg all of which I incorporated into the flour at the beginning. The smell that fills the house once they're baked is amazing.

I made 12 instead of 15 buns as I wanted a bigger sized bun and even then like other reviewers I also found they needed a shorter baking time so I'd recommend you check them at 15 minutes. These are too good to have them ruined at the last minute!

chooette's picture
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These were great - like others I doubled the spices and left out the apple. I found the quantities perfect and the cooking time only slightly too long. I even did the final proof overnight in the fridge, then piped on the crosses and into the oven to get fresh buns first thing in the morning. I haven't made them differently to see if they would be better, but they worked out light and fluffy, and tasty!

justatip's picture

I made these yesterday - they were really nice apart from one big failing - the crosses made from flour and water were horrible so i would make them again but substitute short cross pastry for the crosses then you will have perfect hot cross buns. oh and more spice needed

sweetlove's picture

I was terribly disappointed with this recipe! Quite a lot of faffing about for poor results. Three hours of proving didn't do much to produce a good bun! They lacked the nice spicy hit which you get from other recipes, the paste was hard and crunchy when cooked, so all in all not a great success!

KingOfTheLilies's picture

Made these yesterday and they were terrific. My dough was slightly wet, even after working it, so I'd suggest adding the milk/butter combo a bit at a time (and I'm still not sure what the extra 2tbsp of milk is for) when mixing.

I skipped the second prove, it wasn't necessary, and just allowed them to come to size after I'd shaped them. I added 1 tsp of mixed spice, a bit more cinnamon and a few shakes of nutmeg.
I left out the apple and instead went for some mixed fruit and peel in brandy I had leftover from Christmas.

AnneBursey's picture

As others have mentioned, more spice needed so i added 1/2 tsp mixed spice and 2 1/2 tsps cinnamon. Less baking time as well

G Hillebrand's picture

They're good buns, but more spice is recommended.

A (non-instructional!) video of the process can be found here:

Mary G's picture

Made these for the second year running and thrilled to bits,the lightest buns I have ever made. Agree with most other comments about needing more spice and a shorter cooking time. I have also found that two provings give excellent results.

lseastwood's picture
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Just took mine out of the oven and taste test complete! Very impressed with the result - as others have said, they are as fluffy as any bakery-bought ones. I was worried as my dough was wet and I didn't add any extra flour as I didn't want to make them dry - kneeding was messy, but the end result is perfect. I did 3 rises and added about 2 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp mixed spice and am happy with the flavour


Questions (8)

sanimon's picture

I seem to have done something wrong, my dough is extremely sticky and soft; it would be runny if it wasn't for the fact that it's sticking all over the surface. Can I just keep adding flour until it's of a better consistency?

Dries's picture

How long do they last?

goodfoodteam's picture

Hi Dries, thanks for your question. Once baked these should be fine for 1-2 days if stored in an air tight container. 

sandytezza's picture

The flavour of Paul Hollywood's hot cross buns is lovely with the addition of extra spice but took ages to rise for the first prove and eventually once cooked and looking lovely discovered the middle was a bit on the stodgy side!! Really disappointing. I notice that some other recipes that use same quantity of flour used more yeast and also his method on TGBBO only proves twice, adding all ingredients before first prove and recipe is not the same as this one. What should I do to improve on the end result?

Thornesedge's picture

As I've only got dried yeast in my pantry, how should I adjust my recipe?

MummyKayleigh's picture

You 'wake up' the yeast before adding it to the rest of the ingredients. Mix it with the liquid that is being added to the dry ingredients and leave for 10-15 mins until a frothy head appears (like a pint of beer) and stir in. Quick action yeast would be stirred in with the flour and other dry ingredients instead

MummyKayleigh's picture

Forgot to add, in this case after you've warmed up the milk and butter and left it to cool to hand temp, this is when you would add your yeast and wait for it to wake up

saschlet's picture

Is it important to use full fat milk? What happens if you use skimmed (which is what I have in the house)?

Tips (3)

Zubs's picture

Tastes delicious BUT it certainly needs a few tweaks.
Reduce the quantity of milk, as the stated quantity makes dough way too sticky. Start with maybe 225ml & keep adding as needed.
I added the spices & fruits to the flour mix.
Increase spice to 2tsp cinnamon plus 1tsp allspice
To make it more "luxurious" I added more fruit.
Two proving worked perfectly for me.
I baked it for 15 mins only.

Littleleni's picture
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Thanks! This was super helpful.

michala2160's picture

I use my breadmaker on the dough setting, I want to bake homemade bread but dont have the time and this takes all the hassle of kneading etc, and no messy hands. I melted the butter separately to the milk, I put the butter in the bread pan, after all the dry ingredients first, and a touch of the milk to get the dough going, then I added the milk little by little JUST enough to bring the dough altogether otherwise adding all of this milk might give you an unworkable dough. Also recommend adding more spice! When machine finished dough is already proved and just need to shape and leave for another 20 minutes to rise again.

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