Classic Hot Cross Buns

Pillowy-Soft Hot Cross Buns are Lightly Spiced and Sweetened. Slather on your Favorite Butter and Taste how Amazing these Buns Melt in your Mouth. Great for breakfast, dinner or as a midday snack.

Classic Hot Cross Buns | URBAN BAKES

In the weeks leading up to Easter, hot cross buns are made in the homes of many across the world. This lightly spiced and sweetened bread is a tradition many Christians prepare to celebrate on Good Friday to mark the end of Lent.

They are pillowy soft, made with yeast and may have one kind or a variety of dried fruit throughout such as raisins or currants. It’s been said, each part of the bun represents a different significance.

Classic Hot Cross Buns | URBAN BAKES

The distinct white cross over the top of the buns symbolize the crucifixion of Jesus thus, giving its name, hot cross buns. The spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, all-spice) are used to signify those used over Jesus’ body during the embalming. And the fruit is used to represent the end of Christians eating plain foods during Lent.

There are two ways to make the cross. The traditional version is made with flour and water to create a thick paste which is piped onto the buns prior to baking. The second version, is the cross added after baking, providing additional sweetness to the buns and is made with powdered sugar and milk.

Classic Hot Cross Buns | URBAN BAKES

It wasn’t until a few years ago, I began to notice hot cross buns. Being that I wanted to give this bread a try, I felt it was only right to start the traditional way and then afterwards, explore other variations.

I’ve seen hot cross buns made without using fruit and despite how much I actually loathe raisins, I didn’t want to go without any dried fruit, so I used what I had on hand which was cranberries. Truth be told, I don’t regret it! I loved that I used them and found myself looking for more in each bite.

Classic Hot Cross Buns | URBAN BAKES

Another element where I wanted to stay traditional, was the cross. I’ve seen on other buns where icing was used but at this time, I didn’t want to go any sweeter. These buns have just the right amount of sweetness. Comparable to the Hawaiian sweet rolls but slightly less sweet. These buns were perfect, as is!

Classic Hot Cross Buns | URBAN BAKES

Side Note:

Did you see the second image above, the inscription on the cutting board of the verse of Matthew 19:26? How crazy is this… Days before the COVID-19 pandemic, I was in need for an aged cutting board, or at the very least, one that had a natural wood pattern. Remembering from the past, many stores didn’t have what I was looking for so I didn’t look very hard.

A day before the national shut down, I was at Ross looking at shoes. Going through isles of shoes, I made a quick turn and I was faced at an end cap where laid random items of cloth and Easter decor. And in an instant a cutting board stood out and it was an “AHHH” moment. It spoke so loud, I just had to get it!

How fitting in trying times like today, little things like this, makes me believe these are the small ways the Lord speaks to us. I grew up agnostic and became a believer in July 2015. I’m not heavy in Christianity but I now believe in Him. This moment spoke at a level I could not ignore and I love it. Everything is in His hands, within His time. Stay patient and believe with God, all things are possible. Amen!

Step by Step on How to Make Hot Cross Buns | URBAN BAKES

Note in the step by step image above, I forgot to add the fruit in Step 2. Need not to worry, I was able to incorporate it in after the first proof seen in Step 6 of the picture.

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Classic Hot Cross Buns | URBAN BAKES

Classic Hot Cross Buns

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5 from 7 reviews

  • Author: URBAN BAKES
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 12 jumbo buns, two 9 1/2 x 5 1/2-inch loaves or 1 (15-inch) round 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian


Pillowy-Soft Hot Cross Buns are Lightly Spiced and Sweetened. Slather on your Favorite Butter and Taste how Amazing these Buns Melt in your Mouth. Great for breakfast, dinner or as a midday snack.


  • 1 2/3 cups (213 grams) dried fruit (cherries, cranberries or raisins)
  • 3/4 cup (180 grams) warm apple juice or water (180°F/82°C – 185°F/85°C)


  • 1 1/4 cups (300 grams) warm oat milk or whole milk (105°F/40°C – 110°F/43°C)
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons (14 grams) active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar, divided
  • 5 2/3 cups (709 grams) all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 teaspoon (3 grams) kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon (2 grams) ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/3 cup (76 grams) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs (100 grams)


  • 1 large egg (50 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) oat milk or whole milk


  • 1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons (90 grams) water


  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60 grams) water



  1. In a medium bowl, place dried fruit and juice together and cover with plastic wrap for 20 minutes to allow the fruit to soften. Strain and discard liquid. Pat dry fruit to remove excess liquid.
  2. DOUGH: Bloom the yeast –  In the bowl attached to an electric stand mixer, combine milk, yeast and 1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar. Give a light stir and allow mixture to stand for 10 minutes or until bubbles show. 
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together 5 1/3 cups (667 grams) flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and remaining 1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar.  Toss in soaked fruit.
  4. Combine half of the flour mixture in with the yeast mixture.  On low speed using the paddle attachment, mix until just combined.  Add butter and 2 eggs, continue to beat for another minute.  Gradually add remaining flour mixture and continue to beat until a dough forms. 
  5. Switch to a dough hook attachment and on medium speed, beat dough until smooth, about 4 minutes. Add remaining 1/3 cup (42 grams) flour, 1 tablespoon at a time until dough comes together and becomes less sticky. 
  6. First proof: In a large bowl, spray inside with cooking oil.  Place the dough inside and flip to allow the top of the dough to cover in oil.  Cover loosely and allow the dough to rise in a warm, draft-free environment 75°F (24°C) till the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour. 
  7. Lightly spray coat bottom and sides of a 13×9-inch baking pan with cooking oil; set aside.  Lightly punch down dough to release its gas.  Let it rest for 5 minutes.  
  8. Second proof: Meanwhile, lightly flour a work surface area.  Turn out dough and divide into 12 pieces.  Roll each piece into a ball and place in the prepared pan. Loosely cover and allow dough to rise in a warm, draft-free environment until each piece is touching, about 30 minutes. Heat oven to 375°F (190°C).  
  9. EGG WASH:  In a small bowl, whisk together egg and milk.  Brush egg wash over each prebaked roll. 
  10. FLOUR PASTE:  In another small bowl, mix together flour and water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue to mix until a thick paste forms. Pour paste into a piping bag fitted with a #10 round tip.  Pipe paste over the top of each bun to create a cross. Note: start from one end of the pan and continue to the other end. You may have to pinch off the paste. 
  11. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until buns are golden brown.
  12. SIMPLE SYRUP:  In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring sugar and water to a simmer. Lightly whisk mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved in the water. Remove from heat. Brush syrup over each bun while the buns are hot to allow the bread to absorb a small amount of syrup for added sweetness. Allow to dry, about 5 minutes before serving. ENJOY!
  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Cuisine: English

Classic Hot Cross Buns recipe adapted from Bake From Scratch Vol. 2, p. 134.

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12 thoughts on “Classic Hot Cross Buns”

  1. We were only just talking about how much we miss hot cross buns, but I didn’t have a decent recipe! Now I have no excuse not to make them! I love making any sort of bread, will be great to add these to my rotation!

  2. I have tried making hot cross buns before and they never came out like I hoped they would. These come out perfect every time!! So light and fluffy!

  3. I’m going to try this soon, maybe even today. I have all the ingredients and it looks delicious. It’s nice to see oat milk in a recipe. I sometimes add it to shortbreads and I like the texture and flavor.

  4. With sweetness, spices, and cranberries, these hot cross buns are something I’ll have to try, I’ve had hot cross buns but I didn’t know anything about their history. I like how you wove that into your description. Beautiful photos too!

    1. Hi Paula,
      Yeah, I don’t regret the flour mixture. The buns had so much flavor all on its own. I hope you enjoy it just as much as I did!

    1. Hi Kelly,
      I love the meaning behind it too. Never thought each part had a significance but after reading into it, it made sense. I thought it was pretty cool!

  5. These hot cross buns look beautiful and so pillowy looking. I would love to have one right now. The images really make your recipe pop!

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