Fruity hot cross buns

One a penny, two a penny…

Hot Cross Buns are an entrenched Easter tradition, dating back to the Egyptians, Ancient Greeks and Romans.

These cultures all made variations of the bun to celebrate the change in seasons, although it is the Saxons who are believed to have marked theirs with a cross to honour Ēostre, the pagan goddess of spring and fertility.
In Christian folklore, the buns, crossed with dough to symbolise Jesus’ crucifixion and eaten as a triumphant end to Lent’s self-denial, have always been surrounded by superstition. According to chef Jamie Oliver, legend
has it that when baked on Good Friday, a bun wouldn’t go stale or mouldy for the whole of the following year, although he doesn’t recommend that.
Some believed they were medicinal, some swapped them as a token of friendship, and sailors took them to sea to protect themselves from shipwreck.
Today hot cross buns are still popular, with flavours such as apple and cinnamon, adding to the traditional fruit-stuffed varieties. Kiwis also enjoy
them chocolate flavoured,
and fruitless.

Making your own hot cross buns is a great way to tailor them to exactly how you want them.

You can decide for yourself what fruit you want to enjoy in them, what spices, and even what flavour citrus zest. Here’s a basic recipe, to which you can also add chocolate if you wish, or omit the fruit. Allow three hours proving time for the dough.

Prep: 30 mins Cook: 20 mins Makes: 15


300ml milk
2 Tbsp extra milk
50g butter
500g bread flour
1 Tsp salt
75g raw sugar
1 Tbsp oil
7g sachet fast acting yeast
1 egg, beaten
75g currants or sultanas
50g mixed peel
Zest of 1 orange
1 apple, peeled, cored and finely diced
1 Tsp each of ground cinnamon, mixed spice
For the cross
75g plain flour
For the glaze
3 Tbsp apricot jam


  1. Bring milk to the boil, remove from the heat, and add 50g butter. Leave to cool to hand temperature.
  2. Put bread flour, salt, sugar and yeast into a bowl. Make a well in the centre, and pour in warm milk/butter mix, then beaten egg. Using a wooden spoon, mix well, then use hands to create a sticky dough.
  3. Tip on to a lightly floured surface and knead for five minutes until smooth and elastic. Put into lightly oiled bowl, cover with oiled plastic wrap, and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size and a finger pressed into it leaves a dent.
  4. Add fruit, mixed peel, orange zest, apple and spices to the dough, and knead until well distributed in mix. Cover and leave to rise again until doubled in size.Divide the dough into 15 even pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece into a smooth ball, than arrange the buns on to baking paper lined oven trays, leaving room for them to expand. Cover and set aside to prove for one hour.
  5. Heat oven to 220C (200C fan). Mix 75g plain flour with about 5 tablespoons water to make the paste for the cross, adding the water slowly. Using a small nozzle, pipe the paste along each row of buns, then repeat in the other direction to create crosses. Bake for 20 mins on the middle shelf of the oven, until golden brown. Melt the jam, then brush over tops of warm buns, and leave to cool.

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