Make this easy Hot Cross Buns recipe part of your Easter traditions! Follow my 3 tips for success to ensure sweet, pillowy buns every time.
If I can make Hot Cross Buns, ANYONE can make Hot Cross Buns.
And that means you – yes you! YOU can make these, and you’re going to love them. They are a lot like cinnamon rolls (with raisins) but not as intense with the cinnamon-sugar filling and the glaze.
I think that means you can eat twice as many. Right? Better double the batch.
In the same way that my Grandma’s homemade crescent rolls are the cornerstone of Thanksgiving dinner, Hot Cross Buns are the cornerstone of Easter brunch.
With the sweetness of cinnamon and raisins and a pillowy softness, it just wouldn’t be Easter morning without a good Hot Cross Buns recipe.
Oh, and we need Deviled Eggs, too.
You hear all the time how “baking is a science” and all of that, so I knew it was especially important to get this recipe right. You have a lot to do: Dyeing Easter Eggs, hiding Easter eggs, finding Easter eggs, so there’s simple NO time for Hot Cross Bun Do-overs.
Tip #1: Make sure your yeast is as excited about Hot Cross Buns as you are.
I will spare you the sordid details, but even if you keep your yeast in the freezer, it obviously still has an expiration date. Just take a look before you get started so there are no unpleasant surprises.
Tip #2: Make sure the dough has Risen.
You don’t need to give it three days but…. Rising is paramount to the success of this and all other yeast breads. Obviously having happy yeast is crucial (see Tip #1), but you also need a warm, draft-free place for the dough to rise.
Back when I lived in the Frozen Tundra, aka Wisconsin, I discovered a fool-proof method to ease your bread-rising woes. Use your oven.
Here’s the trick. You don’t want the oven too hot; the bread might start to cook or form a crust. But, you want it warm: About 110 degrees or 120 degrees at the most. However, most ovens don’t have a minimum temperature that goes that low.
So, I preheat the oven for the minimum temperature: 200 degrees on my oven. Then, as soon as the oven starts to register a temperature (anything over 100 degrees), I shut off the oven. That way, the oven is warm and stable and perfect for rising. I repeat this trick for both points in the recipe where rising is required. It really makes all the difference in the world.
Hot Cross Buns Recipe
For the buns:
- 1 cup warm milk 110ºF
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter melted and cooled
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 packets or 4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 3/4 teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup raisins or currants
For the egg wash:
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon water
For the glaze:
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a large measuring cup, whisk together milk, butter, egg, and vanilla.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, add 3 cups flour, sugar, yeast, salt, and cinnamon. With the mixer on low speed, add the milk mixture and mix until the dough comes together, about 2 minutes.
- Add raisins and increase mixer speed to medium and mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, 9 to 10 minutes. After 5 minutes, the dough should clear the sides of the bowl (have pulled away) but stay attached at the bottom. If the dough is sticking to the sides of the bowl, add the remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough clears the side of the bowl.
- Turn the dough out on to a clean surface and shape into a ball. Coat a large bowl with nonstick spray. Place the dough in the bowl, turning once to cover evenly in nonstick spray, then cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place in a warm, draft-free area to rise until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. See notes for help creating a place for the dough to rise.
- Coat a 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray or line with parchment paper. Turn the risen dough out on to a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a tightly formed bun and place in the prepared baking dish, seam side down.
- Cover the buns with plastic wrap coated with nonstick spray. Place in a warm, draft-free area to rise until doubled in volume and touching, about 1 hour. See notes for help creating a place for the dough to rise.
- Preheat oven 375ºF. To make the egg wash, whisk together egg and water. Brush gently over the buns. Bake until the buns are deep golden brown and the interiors have reached 190ºF, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely, ate least 30 minutes.
- To make the glaze, whisk together powdered sugar, water, and vanilla in a small bowl. Using a spoon, drizzle the glaze in a cross pattern on top of each bun. I found it easiest to do a long, continuous line in one direction across the buns in a row, and then repeat in a perpendicular direction for each row.