Hot Cross Buns With An English Accent

A basket of fragrant hot cross buns that are still warm from the oven, accompanied by good butter, and a mug of coffee. |

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Hot cross buns are a traditional treat for Easter weekend that originated in England.  When I was researching them I found lots of interesting history and superstitions.  For instance, hot cross buns were said to last a year without spoiling if they were baked on Good Friday; they were thought to cure illness and protect from evil spirits; they would save sailors from shipwreck; and they would even protect against kitchen fires and ensure successful baking if one was hung in the kitchen.  During the rest of the year, some bakeries now sell NOT Cross Buns with smiley faces piped on them, to show that the buns aren’t angry <<groan>>.  Goofy superstitions and smiley faces aside, these rolls are delicious any time and this recipe makes a great addition to your baking repertoire.

One of the ingredients that caught my eye in a few of the hot cross bun recipes from England was an ingredient called “mixed spice”.  We have lots of spices in our house and I’ve been baking for years and years, but I had never heard of mixed spice.  With more research I discovered that it’s an English combination of several of the baking spices that I love.  All those lovely dark spices give the buns their gorgeous color and fill your house with their incredible warm spicy aromas while the buns are baking.  Since I first discovered it, I’ve made and used mixed spice with great results in other recipes, so now I keep a jar of it in my spice cabinet.

The spiced dough for the hot cross buns is studded with lots of golden raisins and Zante currants and is in the proofing bucket for the bulk proof. |
Lots of golden raisins and currants in the spicy dough.

Two of my favorite dried fruits are golden raisins and currants and I always have them on hand for favorite recipes like American-style Irish soda bread, and German stollen.

I doubled the recipe so the dough weighs over 5 1/2 pound and has a volume of more than 2 litres. |
I was baking for a bake sale fundraiser as well as our owh use, so I doubled the recipe and it made over 5-1/2 pounds of dough!

This is a lot more dough than I usually make.

In the bulk proof, the dough started to push the lid off the proofing bucket. |
After just 45 minutes, my dough had doubled and was ready to be shaped into rolls.

I had a feeling that the dough was going to be a quick riser, so I kept an eye on it and caught it trying to escape.

I lightly oiled my kitchen counter (less of a mess than using flour when working with yeast doughs, and easier to clean up when you’re done), then weighed out the dough at exactly 70 grams (2.5 ounces) for each roll and got 36.  I shaped and arranged two dozen on a half sheet pan (13″ by 18″) and put the other dozen on a quarter sheet pan (13″ by 9″).  We own two of each size and they’re hard-working favorites that I got at Sam’s Club several years ago.  They’re commercial weight so they’ve never warped and they’re easy to clean.  I have no affiliation with Sam’s Club, but I love these pans and they’re still a great bargain at less than $11 for two.

The dough balls for the hot cross buns are spaced less than an inch apart on the sheetpan and are ready for their final proofing. |
I’ve got the rolls shaped and ready for their final proof (rise). I lightly cover them with a piece of waxed paper that’s been sprayed with PAM to keep them from drying out which would inhibit their ability to expand.

The sheetpans are the perfect size for the amount of rolls; they have room to expand during their final proof so they touch just enough that their sides stay soft when they’re baked.

The shaped balls of dough that will be hot cross buns have just about doubled and are ready to go in the oven. |
I didn’t start the rolls until after 5 pm and the sky was so heavily overcast that by 7 PM, when the rolls were ready to go in the oven, I had lost all my natural light, so I used my tripod and the exposure time for this photo was 13 seconds!

The rolls were done in 23 minutes and registered 195°F on my instant-read thermometer.

Hot cross buns are baked and decorated and ready to be enjoyed. |
The rolls are decorated with icing and are now ready to be called Hot Cross Buns.

After the rolls are mostly cool, pipe the icing decoration on, and serve the still-slightly-warm hot cross buns with butter and coffee, tea, or milk.  Forget the calendar and make hot cross buns any time of year.

Whether they're still warm from the oven or re-heated in a microwave, just pull one apart, add a pat of butter, and enjoy a hot cross bun with coffee, tea, or milk. |
Whether they’re still warm from the oven or re-heated in a microwave, just pull one apart, add a pat of butter, and enjoy a hot cross bun with coffee, tea, or milk.

Please leave a question or a comment and rate this recipe with the stars below, then Pin, Tweet and/or share on Facebook.  If you make the recipe, I’d love it if you would come back and make a comment with your results and share a photo on Instagram.

Thanks, and bon appetit!

Hot Cross Buns
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Though Hot Cross Buns are a traditional Good Friday or Easter morning breakfast, they're so delicious and easy to make that you should make and enjoy them any time of the year or time of day.
Recipe type: Yeast Breads
Cuisine: English
Yield: 12 to 18 rolls
  • 1/4 cup (2 fluid oz, 60 ml) water, 105°F
  • 1 pkg active yeast
  • 3/4 cup (6 fluid oz, 180 ml) milk, 105°F
  • 2-1/2 cups (10.6 oz, 315 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (3.5 oz, 100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon mixed spice (see recipe below)
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz, 28 grams) butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 tablespoons (1 fluid oz) canola oil
  • 2-1/2 cups (10.6 oz, 315 grams) bread flour, divided
  • 3/4 cup (3.5 oz, 125g) Zante currants
  • 3/4 cup (3.5 oz, 125g) golden raisins
  • 1 cup (4 1/2 oz, 128 grams) confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon each vanilla & almond extract
  • pinch of table salt
  • 4 teaspoons milk
English Mixed Spice
  • 1 Tbs ground allspice
  • 1 Tbs ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbs ground nutmeg
  • 2 tsp ground mace
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  1. Add the the yeast to the water in the mixer bowl and allow it to bloom for a few minutes while you gather your other ingredinets.
  2. Add the milk, all-purpose flour, and sugar to the yeast and beat it well with the flat paddle, then add the egg, mixed spice, salt, melted & cooled butter, oil, and half of the bread flour, and beat well until smooth.
  3. Switch to the dough hook and add the remaining bread flour and the dried fruit, then knead on speed 2 for 5 to 7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the fruit is evenly distributed..
  4. Turn the dough into a lightly oiled container and let rise, covered, until double, 45 to 60 minutes.
  5. Turn out onto a lightly oiled counter and divide and shape into 12 to 18 round smooth balls.
  6. Place dough balls on a greased or parchment lined sheetpan; cover and let rise till double, 60 to 90 minutes.
  7. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 20 to 23 minutes until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the middle of a roll registers 190°F to 200°F.
  8. Remove from the sheetpan and cool on a rack before icing.
  1. Combine all the ingredients and beat with a wooden spoon to make a smooth and thick mixture.
  2. Scrape into a disposable icing bag with a #8 frosting tube, or spoon it into a heavy duty zip-lock bag, then cut off a tiny corner and pipe a cross on top of the rolls.
English Mixed Spice
  1. Combine the spices and store in a tightly covered glass jar away from heat and light.
Total time doesn't include rising and cooling times.
I strongly suggest that you weigh your ingredients, especially flour, to be sure that your dough has the proper consistency for the best results.
You can make this recipe in a bread machine using the dough setting, then follow the rest of the instructions here for shaping, rising and baking.
Mixed spice is versatile and can be used whenever you'd use pie spice: in hot cereals, on buttered toast when mixed with the sweetener of your choice, or in just about any dessert with apples or dried fruit.
If you want to freeze hot cross buns, add the icing after the rolls have thawed.


There may be links in this post to companies and/or websites with which I have no affiliation, but the links show products that I love and use, or information that I find interesting and helpful.

Nearly all products I mention can be found in independent stores near you, and I encourage you to “Shop Local”.

2 thoughts on “Hot Cross Buns With An English Accent”

  1. Made these for Easter and they turned out sweet and tasty! I used my bread machine to make the dough, just put all the wet ingredients in first then the dry ingredients. It’s still very dry in my climate so I had to adjust and add some extra water, but otherwise I followed the ingredients as written. So easy and good!

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