Hot cross buns

Hot cross buns

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(76 ratings)


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Cooking time

Prep: 30 mins Cook: 20 mins Plus proving

Skill level

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

Additional info

  • Freezable
Nutrition info

Nutrition per serving



For the buns

  • 300ml full-fat milk, plus 2 tbsp more
  • 50g butter
  • 500g strong bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 7g sachet fast-action or easy-blend yeast
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 75g sultanas
  • 50g mixed peel
  • zest 1 orange
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • 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.

Recipe from Good Food magazine, April 2012

Comments, questions and tips

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Show comments
angelosylvia's picture
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Have tried other recipes, Nigella and Delia, but found them rubbish compared to Pauls. I cook these on a weekly basis as the whole family loves them instead of other cakes and biscuits. So easy to make, not fiddley as others have posted. But yes I aggree that the recipe needs a little tweeking.

Substitute semi- skimmed milk ( only 1.5% fat ot 3%).
Mix the spices into the dry mix ( mixes easier and more even)
Add extra mixed spice and cinnamon.
I use mixed cake fruit not just sultanas and increase the ammount.
No need for the orange zest or apple.
Coat the buns with a sugar/water glaze.

This may seem a lot of changes, but it makes it easier and just as good.
I do keep to the 3 rises and you can mix the fruit in at the dry stage or the 2nd stage , makes no difference. They are ammazing fresh or toasted after a couple of days, thanks Paul.
It makes them even tastier if you add home made fresh mixed peel.

chill2366's picture
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Just made these today - followed the recipe and 3 proving times, I did however add more cinnamon and some mixed spice - really think this made them better flavor wise.

This was my first time making them, and yes although they were time consuming, they are defiantly worth the wait. Really soft and light inside - will be making them again. I did however only need 15 minutes in the oven, they were actually more ready at 13 minutes.

racheld's picture

I made these last night for my French collegues for a 'traditional English easter snack' here in France. They have gone down a storm this morning. I followed the recipe almost to the letter but added some extra spice. 3 provings/2 kocking back helped as my mixture was quite dry. I had never made hot cross buns before, but will definitely make them again. I also made the chocolate hot cross buns from the April magazine. Equally as good, though that mixture was wetter.

gandt810's picture
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Love this recipe, shame I hadn't read the comments here first, as I followed the recipe almost to the letter (swapped in raisins for mixed peel) doing three rises. I will never buy HCB from the shops again. Although my dough was wet I persisted, even kneading by hand, and they turned out perfectly. I am tempted to add in more spice as these were delicately flavoured, and to play around with the fruit combinations, but definitely a recipe to do again and again, at any time of year!

yepiyep's picture

I made it once and I plan on making more of it.
I followed the recipe, it was perfect for everything but the cross.
I would strongly recommend to add a bit more water as it make it easier to pipe it.
Also if like me you are baking in a very powerful oven I would recommend to keep an eye on them 2 or 3 minutes before they finish cooking.

They were crusty on the outside and soft on the inside so delicious. You can't compare to anything available in supermarket.

amandagreen's picture

I too did only 2 provings, added more cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice left out mixed peel (because I didn't have any) therefore doubled-up on raisins/sultanas ..... crosses made with 2/3 flour 1/3 icing sugar and about 3 tblsn water was enough for correct piping consistency...17 mins in oven brushed with melted honey.....superb...don't think they'll last till Good Friday though...made today ..Weds!!!!!

veritypinkney's picture
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Tasty hot cross buns. These were a definite improvement on a previous recipe I have used. I added a lot of extra spice (including some mixed spice and a small grating of nutmeg) to give these plenty of flavour and put in chopped dates and cranberries rather than the mixed peel and apple. I also soaked the fruit first in some alcohol. I didnt have a problem with the dough being too wet as others have mentioned but then I guess this largely depends on the flour you are using. In order to get a bit more of a rise, I will try to get hold of fresh yeast next time or I will activate the dried yeast first, although these were by no means too small! Also keep an eye on these in the oven, mine needed only 12-15 minutes to bake.
Great recipe, will look forward to trying again.

gc7820's picture
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Never made HCBs before but have had success with Mr H's recipes for other stuff so thought I'd try these. So glad I did! Used my kitchen aid to take some of the strain out of mixing. Great results, will make again before Easter.

carodarcy's picture

I read all the comments before making this recipe, and they were extremely helpful, so many thanks to all previous posters. I took on board some of the advice, and made the following amendments to the recipe:
Gave the dough 2 rises instead of 3
Left out the mixed peel
Increased the cinnamon
Added 1 tsp mixed spice
Soaked the sultanas in Grand Marnier
Used fresh yeast

The buns came out beautifully, the best ones I've ever made.

bjdipsy's picture
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Used the recipe but made them in my bread machine on dough setting. Made 15 fantastic, light buns. Took about two and half hours start to finish. Added more spice and some cranberries. Very good results

sean041268's picture

In my opinion the best yeast to use is fresh from your local baker unfortunately this as far as i know is not available in supermarkets but is 100% better than dried yeast

gandt810's picture
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Fresh yeast is sometimes available on Ocado (I presume in Waitrose too) so worth taking a look.

suefoodtech's picture

Like others I added fruit and spice at beginning and therefore missed out on one prove. Also, they were a tad too wet and sticky, so maybe just the 500g flour and not the additional 2 tablespoons would suffice. Delicious though and definitely recommended. The Kenwood dough hook makes light work of kneading too.....though not as therapeutic as doing it oneself!

sharryh70's picture

The last time I made HXB you could of used them as doorstops! This recipe is fantastic but I must admit I have made a few tweaks, Soaked my fruit in a little warm brandy with my Christmas spice mix, then added 50g of walnuts instead of mixed peel.

Zubs's picture

Delicious. I doubled the cinnamon & added 1 tsp of mixed spice. The next time I'd double the raisins to make them fruitier. Btw : I only did 2 risings, not three as suggested. Also they were done in 15 mins. Worked well for me.

laxtitute's picture
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Alright, so I'm not a Hollywood fan because I don't like people who are that arrogant, however I do have to concede that he is a hero for putting this recipe up here. These hot cross buns are delicious, the spices are wonderful and they taste infinitely better than any you can buy. However, the best thing about them is the texture. I, like so many other people I have spoken to, have tried making hot cross buns before and they're so chewy and horrible, but these were light and beautifully soft. Will make these every year since this recipe really does produce the best hot cross buns you could want!

nehalmc's picture

I love the addition of apple and the apricot jam brushing. I've made these for 2 years in a row and they have been a great success. A couple of things I would alter here: Addition of all spice or a mixture of ginger/nutmeg would greatly improve the taste. I found these a bit bland. Also, for the piping mixture, I mix 1 part icing sugar with 2 parts flour.

mazzastar16's picture

Tried this recipe today and noted it doesn't follow the same format as Paul demonstrates on the GBBO. The recipe above states in step 2 that the mixture should be left for 1 hr before adding the fruit and spices, whereas Paul adds these to his mixture once he has combined the flour, milk, butter and egg salt and yeast. This means he only leaves the dough to rise twice, not the three times as advised here - confusing !