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Hot Cross Buns Print E-mail

Hot Cross Buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday. The cross on the bun is, of course, a Christian symbol but in this case it can also be traced back to an older religious tradition. The cross in this context stands for the spring equinox, when the day and night are equal in length.

You will need to plan ahead for this recipe. The dough has to rise twice. We figure the whole process from starting the yeast to serving takes about 3 hours. Of course most of the time you can be doing something else. It will also take some strong hands to knead the dough. This is a great recipe for adults and kids to work on cooperatively.

{Makes 2 dozen buns}

You'll need:

  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 - triple packet of dry yeast (3 separate envelopes in all)
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1/3 cup of butter - melted
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 5 eggs
  • 5 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of currants or raisins
  • Cooking spray
  • Plastic wrap
  • One glaze recipe - see below
  • Adult help


  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • A large bowl
  • A small bowl
  • A large spoon
  • 2 cookie sheets
  • A clean dish towel - with a smooth, flat weave (not a rough surface like bath towels)
  1. Warm the milk in the microwave for about 15 seconds. It needs to be just warm to the touch. If it's too hot, it will kill the yeast.
  2. Add the yeast a little at a time, stirring until all the lumps are out. Let the milk stand for about 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, break four eggs and beat them.
  4. Add the sugar, butter, cinnamon, and beaten eggs.
  5. Gradually add the flour and mix. The dough will be sticky and at a certain point you will start to use your hands to mix and then to knead.
  6. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes until it's smooth.
  7. Wash the bowl with warm water, rinse and dry well. Spray the bowl with cooking spray and place the dough in it to rise.
  8. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm place away from drafts for at least 30 minutes. Keeping the dough warm is important because if the yeast gets chilled, it will stop growing and the dough will never rise.
  9. When the dough has doubled in size, add the currants and knead again until the currants are mixed throughout.
  10. Divide the dough into 24 - 2 inch balls.
  11. Spray the cookie sheets and arrange the balls about 3/4 of an inch apart. Unlike cookies, you want the buns to touch each other when they expand.
  12. Cover the balls with a clean towel and let rise in that warm spot again for at least an hour.
  13. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  14. When the balls have doubled in size, use a sharp knife to score the tops in the shape of a cross.
  15. Separate the last egg and use the white to brush the tops of the buns. This will give the buns a sheen.
  16. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 and bake for another 15 minutes or so until the buns are deep golden brown.
  17. Take the buns out of the oven and using the scores in the tops as a guide, glaze them with the shape of crosses before serving.

The Glaze

You'll need:

  • 1 1/4 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of grated lemon rind
  • 1/2 teaspoon of lemon or vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons of milk


  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • A small bowl
  • A large spoon
  1. Mix the sugar, lemon rind, and extract in the bowl.
  2. Add the milk a little at a time until the glaze has the consistency of stiff honey.