Each spring, thousands of you visit bbcgoodfood.com for our hot cross bun recipes, so we can comfortably claim these sweet fruit buns are the ultimate Easter bake. But they can be tricky to get right when making them from scratch.


As Paul Hollywood is responsible for our phenomenally popular classic hot cross bun recipe, we went straight to the man himself to pick his brain for the tips and tricks to achieve the fluffy hot cross bun of your dreams...

Try more Easter baking recipes, fun Easter baking for kids and 10 twists on hot cross buns. Find out how to throw an Easter egg hunt and then serve up the perfect Easter roast to follow.

Origin of hot cross buns

The history of the hot cross bun dates back to the 14th century, with the monk Thomas Rocliffe believed to have created the very first ones which he distributed to the poor on Good Friday. It went down so well that word spread and by the 19th century, hot cross buns were widely eaten across the country to mark the end of Lent.

Paul's seven expert tricks for making perfect hot cross buns

1. Knead the dough to increase elasticity

Kneading dough

"The first thing you do is make your base dough. You knead it until you can pull a bit off and you can see it’s quite elastic. It needs to stretch. One trick is, if you get tired of kneading it, leave it in a bowl for a bit to rise for 20 minutes. That'll help the process along."

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2. Check the dough texture is right

Balls of dough

"The best thing to do is hold your stretched dough towards the light – you should be able to read the newspaper through it. You also need to look for the webbing – that’s the gluten strands bonding together. If you’ve got webbing in the dough you know it’s right. The thinner you can get that the better."

3. Either mix by hand or a bread machine

Kneading dough

"A dough hook on a mixer will be quicker, but mixing the dough by hand will give you a good feel for what the dough’s like. Then, if you’re ever caught short and you haven’t got a mixer, you’ll still be able to make them. Plus, if you mix it by hand, you’ll get to remember what the dough should feel like when it's ready."

4. Add spices for extra flavour

Dried fruit in bowl

"Cinnamon works really well, and a bit of nutmeg to an extent. I always use fresh fruit in mine. The original recipes used fresh fruit, it’s only quite recently we’ve started using dried fruit. Apples, oranges, tangerines, zest of lemon and orange and cinnamon works really well together."

Try our chocolate & spice hot cross buns, spiced hot cross buns and hot cross bun ring with spiced honey butter.

5. Try non-traditional flavours

Chocolate buns

"Morello cherries and chocolate is a great combination for a non-traditional twist."

Next, discover our chilli cheese hot cross buns, chocolate & tropical fruit hot cross buns and triple chocolate hot cross buns for some more unusual flavour inspiration.

6. Use leftovers to make a pudding

Bun pudding

"You can make a great summer pudding with hot cross buns. Alternatively, you can bake with them and make a delicious bread and butter pudding. What I’d do is put some white chocolate chips in there as well, then slice up some hot cross buns and add the zest of an orange."

Try our bun & butter pudding and then our chocolate hot cross bun bread & butter pudding or our hot cross bun lemon pudding.

7. Choose your topping

Icing buns

"Marzipan makes a nice cross for a bit of decoration, or you can use sweet paste or just the traditional flour and water."

Discover more hot cross bun topping ideas.

More Easter recipes and tips...

Paul's tips for decorating Easter bakes
How to make a hot cross bun video
8 things you've never done with a hot cross bun
Visit our Easter page


Do you have any handy hot cross bun hints that never fail? Let us know in the comments section below...

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