The Pretend Chef

Easy Hot cross buns

Sweet, soft and spicy Hot Cross Buns

Hot cross bun is a delicious sweet and soft spice bun, filled with juicy fruits. Though not commonly eaten in Nigeria, most people have heard about it. What with the nursery rhyme written about it, what kid didn’t sing it in kindergarten?

Hot Cross Buns have culture, tradition and history, which I like. It is a soft bun marked with a cross on top, the cross represents the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus and the spices in it, the spices of His embalmment. It was originally baked and eaten on good Friday but later its consumption extended to the whole Lenten period preceding Easter Sunday. Thank God all that is in the past, hot cross buns can be made and eaten whenever. There are folklores woven around this bun, like its having healing powers, protective powers for travellers or against house fires and so many others.

I first heard about Hot Cross Buns as a kid from the nursery rhyme and had wondered what it will taste like. It is one of my children’s favourite snacks and you will know somebody just collected a bun because you will hear them singing or humming to the tune of Hot Cross Buns, Hot Cross Buns, One a Penny, two a penny… I don’t know what it is with singing to the bun before or while eating it.

Sweet, soft and spicy Hot Cross Buns

Hot cross buns can be eaten as it is or with butter, jam, marmalade etc. This is a traditional recipe though there are so many variations available now like coffee, apple-cinnamon, toffee, chocolate etc. Enjoy the song while you bake your scrumptious Hot Cross Buns.

Hot cross buns!
Hot cross buns!
One a penny, two a penny.
Hot cross buns!

If you have no daughters,
Give them to your sons!
One a penny, two a penny.
Hot cross buns!

I used active dry yeast and you might want to proof your yeast before using to be sure it is alive and active. It is good practice especially if you have had it for long. See Note below on how to proof your yeast.

To make Hot Cross Buns

4 cups flour
1/3 cup (6 tablespoons) sugar
2 teaspoons mixed spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 lemon zest
2 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 tablespoons butter
1 1/3 cups milk
1 egg
1 1/2 cups dry fruits
3/4 cup flour
6 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons golden syrup, honey, sugar syrup etc.

In a bowl mix together flour, sugar, mixed spice, cinnamon, lemon zest, salt and yeast, set aside. 

In a small pot over medium-high heat, melt butter and milk, allow to cool to hand warm.

Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in milk and butter mixture, add the egg. 

Using your hand, pull in the flour and mix to get a sticky dough. 

Pour dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes until dough is soft, smooth and elastic.

An electric mixer with the dough hook can be used.

Easy Hot Cross Buns dough

Knead in the mixed fruits.

Easy Hot Cross Buns dough with fruits

Lightly grease a bowl and place dough inside, cover with a tea towel or cling film and leave in a warm place to rise until double in size, about 1 hour. 

Divide dough into 24 balls, and roll each ball lightly to form a ball. 

Place balls on a baking tray close together but not touching, flatten slightly.

Easy Hot Cross Buns

Loosely cover with cling film or tea towel, it should not touch the buns and place in a warm place to rise until double in size about 1 hour.

When poked with a finger, the dough should leave a dent which slowly rises but if it feels firm or dense and does not leave a shallow dent, leave it to prove for another 10-20 minutes more. 

Preheat oven to 200 deg. C. 

To make the Cross

In a small bowl, mix together the flour for the topping with the water, adding a little at a time to form a thick paste.

Transfer the flour paste into a piping bag, freezer bag or polyethene bag (snip off a corner for the paste to pass through).

Pipe a cross on the top of each bun.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. 

While still hot, brush with golden syrup and leave to cool a little before placing on a wire rack to cool completely.

Sweet, soft and spicy Hot Cross Buns



  • To proof yeast: In 1/4 cup warm water (45 deg. C, hand warm), add yeast and a little sugar. Leave to stand 5-10 minutes. If it foams, the yeast is alive and can be used, if it does not foam, the yeast is dead and should be discarded.
  • Knead by holding the dough with one hand and stretching it with the heal of the other hand, then folding it back on itself, hold and stretch.
  • You can bake your hot cross buns in muffin tins.
  • You can use any mixture of dried fruits and candied peel.
  • Depending on the size you want, divide the dough into more or less than 24 pieces.
  • In place of golden syrup, you can use other types of glaze: Apricot jam, melt and sieve to remove chunks, then use, sugar mixed with a little hot water to form a syrup, sugar with a little warm milk or honey.
  • These buns will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.


You will also enjoy my Moist Fruit Cake, Soft Potato Bread, Funnel Cake and Sweet Potato Bread Rolls.

Do you have any comments, questions or suggestions, please leave a comment below. 

Share this recipe using the share buttons. Subscribe to the blog for instant notifications of new recipes.

Follow on Instagram: @thepretendchefofficial, Twitter: @thepretendchef Facebook: and Pinterest:



Share this...
Share on Facebook6Share on Google+0Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Yummly0Share on LinkedIn0Pin on Pinterest13Share on Reddit0Share on StumbleUpon0
  1. gaga
    June 26, 2017

    2 cups flour
    3 tablespoons sugar
    1 teaspoon mixed spice
    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/2 lemon zest
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
    1 1/2 tablespoons butter
    1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons milk
    1/2 egg (beat egg and use approximately 2 tablespoons)
    3/4 cup dry fruits
    6 tablespoons flour
    3 tablespoons water
    1 tablespoons golden syrup, honey, sugar syrup etc

%d bloggers like this: