Cooking School: Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns (01) by MeetaK

Take a second look at the title of this post. That's right: Cooking School: Hot Cross Buns. The last time I looked, Hot Cross Buns fell under the category of Breads. Now take a look if you are on the right blog!

Yup! You are on What's For Lunch, Honey? and yes you are seeing this correctly. I am indeed presenting you with self baked bread outside of a Daring Baker's challenge, that is. If you have no idea what I am talking about then I presume you are new around these parts and would like to direct you to this post. That was my last challenge and as you can see I fear bread baking.

After reading the many comments and emails I got from that post I was rather amazed. Amazed, because you all seem to think that I was fearless. Well I guess Mighty Meeta's Kryptonite is bread baking.

Like any fearless super hero I decided to grab the proverbial bull by its proverbial horns and take this fear factor head on. I have been collecting a few bread recipes in the past few days and hope to present you with a few more bread varieties on this blog - outside of the DB challenges!

Do you see the Categories section on the sidebar? Well you all know how it works - click on the label and you get a list of all the recipes/articles filed under that particular category. The ones that have a larger font simply means that there are more recipes/articles under that category. Now look at the size of my breads category. It's minute! My aim this year is to make that label grow in font size!

As Easter is just around the corner I decided to start with Hot Cross Buns.

What are Hot Cross Buns?

Hot Cross buns have been a symbol of Good Friday for decades. They are specifically sold in bakeries and supermarkets throughout the Easter season. Each bun has cross piped, either with icing, pastry or glaze, on top to signify the crucifixion.

In England, they were once sold by street vendors who advertised their buns with cries of "Hot Cross Buns! "Hot Cross Buns!"

These street cries became the famous nursery rhyme. Do you remember?

Hot cross buns,
Hot cross buns,
one ha' penny,
two ha' penny,
hot cross buns.
If you have no daughters,
give them to your sons,
one ha' penny,
two ha' penny,
Hot Cross Buns

As I went to a British School, I certainly remember singing the rhyme. I would not say the Hot Cross Buns I have had in my life were of the gourmet kind but they were certainly delicious. I loved the smell of the spices and the sweet aroma of the raisins when the buns were cut open and toasted on the toaster.

In Christian history, the buns were traditionally eaten on Good Friday, with the cross depicting the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Although they have been a Lenten and Good Friday tradition for centuries, Hot Cross Buns were not always associated with Christianity. The origins of the crumb lie in pagan traditions of ancient cultures, with the cross representing the four quarters of the moon. During early missionary efforts, the Christian church adopted the buns and re-interpreted the cross. In 1361, a monk named Father Thomas Rockcliffe began a tradition of giving Hot Cross Buns to the poor of St Albans on Good Friday.

In years that followed, many customs, traditions, superstitions, and claims of healing and protection from evil and were associated with the buns. In the 16th century, Roman Catholicism was banned in England, but the popularity of Hot Cross buns continued. Queen Elizabeth I passed a law banning the consumption of Hot Cross Buns except during festivals such as Easter, Christmas and funerals.


The recipe I used must have been as old as Queen Elizabeth I herself, because it was taped in my recipe notebook and looked rather faded and tattered. The handwriting was not mine and I cannot remember for the life of me who gave me the recipe. I normally write the names down of the people who gave me the recipes but I only started doing this for the past 8-9 years! So the recipe is certainly older than that. What attracted me to the recipe was the use of all-spice.

The recipes I found during my comparison research did not have all-spice listed in them. It's a spice I really like, but do not use very often in my kitchen outside of the Christmas baking. I also liked that the buns were piped with a mixture of flour and water and not icing. As far as I remember the British either cut the crosses in the buns or use the flour/water pastry mixture to pipe the crosses - never with icing. The reason behind this is because the buns are made a few days ahead and should be enjoyed toasted with only butter spread thickly on the warm bread. Using icing sugar will only cause it to burn when toasted.

Hot cross buns,
Hot cross buns!

Extra Read: My latest article is out on FoodieView. This week I am Re-thinking Casseroles!


MM SpringFruitSensations 3 March 2008 250px


The Monthly Mingle gets fruity this month! My guest host Abby has chosen a spectacular theme for this month - Spring Fruit Sensations. So get out your colorful fruit creations and send them over to Abby.


Deadline: April 7th, 2008 

Printable version of recipe here.

Hot Cross Buns (02)  by MeetaK

14g dry active yeast or 30g fresh yeast
500g white flour for bread, plus more for dusting
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground mixed spices - I used cinnamon, all-spice, nutmeg, cloves and ginger 
40g butter
200g raisins

Pastry for the crosses:
30g flour
1/4 teaspoon sugar

For the glaze
1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon gelatine powder


Hot Cross Buns (04)  by MeetaK

Prepare a baking sheet by lightly greasing it.

In a small bowl incorporate the yeast, 2 teaspoons flour, 1 teaspoon sugar and 125 ml luke warm water well. Cover with a with a damp cloth and place in warm place for about 10 minutes to activate the yeast. After the 10 minutes your yeast mixture should be frothy and bubbly. If this is not the case this means that your yeast is too old and you will have to proof it again with fresh yeast.

In a larger bowl sift the flour and the spices, then mix in the sugar. Add the butter and knead with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs. Throw in the raisins. Make a well in the middle of the flour and pour in the yeast mixture and 185ml water. Using your hands gently mix in the flour into the yeast mixture. Knead into a smooth dough.

Dust the countertop lightly with some flour then tip out the dough and knead for 5 minutes until the dough is soft and smooth. Dust a large bowl with flour. Shape a ball out of the dough and place into the bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Place in a warm place for 30-40 minutes until the dough has doubled in volume.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.

Tip the dough onto the counter and give it another good kneading. Divide into 12 equal parts, then roll each portion into a ball and place on the greased baking tray. Place each ball of dough so that they are touching each other. Cover the tray with a damp cloth and allow to rest in a warm place for another 20 minutes. They balls of dough will double in volume again.

Pastry for the crosses:
Mix the flour, sugar and 2 1/2 tablespoons water into a thick, smooth paste-like mixture. Fill into a piping bag or a small sandwich bag with a slight cut at one of the corners. Now pipe crosses onto the buns.

Slide the baking tray into the oven and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.

For the glaze
In the meantime prepare the glaze by mixing the sugar, 1 tablespoon water and the gelatine powder in a small saucepan. Mix until dissolved. On low heat heat the mixture until the mixture is smooth.

When the buns come out of the oven brush the buns while still hot with the glaze.

Allow to cool. The best way to enjoy the buns are cut, toasted and with lots of good butter. Hmmmn! You can serve these for a Easter breakfast or brunch.


Hot Cross Buns (03)  by MeetaK

This is incredible. I think I am getting used to this rising and kneading thing as it is proving to be rather therapeutic. While the dough was doing its first rise I was able to complete a relaxing session of yoga. The kneading helps to take away and frustrations and on the second rise I was able to do my nails. LOL! The buns were simply delicious. They rose perfectly, took on a wonderful golden color and the whole house smelled of spices. We enjoyed these for breakfast on the weekend, lightly toasted on the toaster. Soeren spread honey on his, Tom red current jam and I just had it with butter. I think I will make these every now and then for sure and it does not always have to be Easter! ;-)

As I am quite proud of these little babies, I am sending these to - wait for it - Bread Baking Day! This month's hostess is Susan of Wild Yeast and her theme is focusing on the upcoming Spring seasonal holidays - Easter St. Patrick's Day and so on! I've watched from the sidelines and almost took part in last month's Flatbreads theme but chickened out instead. I hope I can often take part in this event from now on LOL!

To celebrate Easter I have thoughtfully and carefully put together a few menu ideas for you. Hope you enjoy them. I'll be in Dubai with my parents, Tom and Soeren, enjoying the sun and looking for Easter eggs in the sand.

Easter menu "Flavors":

Starter: CarrotGingerSoup2 Creamy Ginger Carrot Soup wit Lemon Cream
Entrée: TeriyakiSalmon04 Honey Teriyaki Salmon with Mange-Tout
Dessert: Lemon Meringue Pie 05 Lemon Meringue Pie


Easter Menu "Non-Vegetarian":

Starter: DSC02704 Spinach Soup with Coconut milk and Chicken
Entrée: Geschnetzeltes03 Creamy Veal and Mushroom Pie with Potato Crust
Dessert: RaspberryChocolateTiramisu01 Raspberry Chocolate Tiramisu


Easter Menu "Vegetarian":

Starter:  SpinachSalad02 Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese and Avocado
Entrée:  DSC02715 Mustard Eggs with Rice Duo
Dessert:  RaspberryDreamCream07 Raspberry Dream Cream


When I made these last week, Nandita of Saffron Trail and I were chatting and I showed her the pictures I took of these buns. She instantly wanted one. I told her she'd have to make them herself. Well she did and we decided to post on the same day. Do check out Nandita's version of Eggless Hot Cross Buns.

All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2008 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

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  1. These buns look amazing! I will have to give them a try, because I love bread more than anything!

  2. Nice job!! They look really beautiful. Hot Cross buns are definitely on my list of things to make.

  3. As another Brit living far away from home and I suspect much older than you I can remember singing that nursery ryme as well as a kid . Here in the US they put icing on shop bought and unsure if it's because of differing tastes so Your recipe is a good to go for me as they look so good and sure they taste as good as well


  4. Meeta,

    Before you know it you can put your "voodoo dance" away every month. Your hot cross buns bring back nice memories of Easter morning in my house growing up.

  5. yay, i can see your buns (no pun intended. LOL) on 'taste of india' now.

  6. Hooray for you, Meeta. These buns look just like the ones I see in the bakeries!

  7. We always have these for Easter. Yours look super.

  8. its raining hot cross buns!! i love the way the raisins are peeping through!!

  9. Yumm they are just looking delicious.

  10. I finally got over my fear of yeast of over 20 years last August :-) and I totally agree... it is so therapeutic. I love these buns Meeta.

  11. Meeta:

    These look wonderful. I remember that rhyme very well. Have a wonderful holiday in sunny Dubai!

  12. One would never have guessed you were afraid of bread baking by the look of these gorgeous buns. Thank you for submitting them to BreadBakingDay. May your bread category continue to grow, and I hope you make BBD a regular event on your calendar!

  13. Lovely lovely buns. I would also go for the Allspice Meeta, it's so good and adds the right sweet & spicy to baked goods like these.
    What now no more voodoo dance!

  14. You are a Daring Baker, my dear friend, and you rock! These buns are perfect! Mind if I grab a couple of these to go with my tea? ;)

  15. Those Easter buns are wonderful and very tempting! Extremely beautiful. I bet they taste as good as they look!



  16. I have actually never had a hot cross bun before, but I should attempt them for Easter!

  17. Oh so beautiful....I have to try these once I am back. Great job...

  18. No butter or eggs. Wow. Ye Mighty Meeta, you are a better baker than most of us :)

  19. I love hot cross buns!!!!!! Never realised how straightforward the recipe was! May just give these a go if I get the time this week.

  20. My mom used to always make these when I was growing up, but I haven't had them in years. And I agree with you, just eating them only at Easter is silly--they're terrific anytime.

  21. Wow, these look great! And this is the 3rd blog I've been on today that has made some sort of bread. It's totally tempting me. AND I do know how to play Hot Cross Buns on the recorder :)

  22. Those hot cross buns look really good. It has been so long since I last had one that I forget what they taste like. I will have to try making them.

  23. The pictures say a 1000 words Meeta. Can see how good they must have tasted. Agree completely that yeast is very therapeutic & in my case now, quite addictive too. These are really nice looking 'hot cross buns', as all of us from convents learnt, & I'm quite enticed to try them. Bookmarked...hope I find time to make them before Easter. Great entry for Susan's!! Nice set of menu's too!

  24. I love that there is actually a cross in the hot cross buns. Just mouth watering.

  25. Thanks everyone for all your comments and motivation.
    I knew many would remember that rhyme! The recipe is simple enough for those with a yeast fear and yields lovely buns.

    Hope you enjoy them!

  26. Very nice work--for somebody afraid of bread making, it certainly doesn't show! They look great, although I now have that rhyme jingling in my head...over and over...

  27. My Mom has been requesting hot cross buns, I'll have to give this recipe a try, it looks great!

  28. I am so happy you posted this recipe. The other day my son asked me if I knew how to make them because he learned the song in his English class (in an Italian school). I promised him I would make them for him.
    Thanks and Happy Easter!

  29. Thanks people - I am so looking forward to your feedback on these now. Hope they work for you!

  30. Meeta,

    Thanks again for posting this recipe. I made the buns yesterday and served them for breakfast this morning. I found the recipe easy to follow and the only small hitch was entirely my fault. I modified the spices used (only because I knew my hubby and son wouldn't like them too spiced). I took your advice and had them toasted with butter. I am posting about the experience on my blog and linking to your post.
    Thanks again!

  31. hi meeta, posted my version on the blog...check it for when you have the time....cheers!!

  32. These look beautiful! With all the great BBD entries, I feel I *have* to try hot crossed buns- and they'll be easy to veganize. Cheers!

  33. You are so wonderful with the menu ideas! I love hot cross buns!! Yum!!They are beautiful! :)

  34. These are truely the Best Hot Cross Buns which I have ever baked!! Simple to make, delicious and tasty, just the right amount of spice and so soft! Unlimited amount of stars for this recipe! Thanks!


Thank you for visiting What's For Lunch, Honey? and taking time to browse through my recipes, listen to my ramblings and enjoy my photographs. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. I will answer your questions to my best knowledge and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

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