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Classic Hot Cross Buns Recipe – but No Candied Peel

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This classic hot cross buns recipe is a special recipe for a special day. It starts with a light sweet dough and dried fruit, and is topped with a fruit glaze for shine, and of course the little cross using icing. It does take some effort, but in my humble opinion worth every minute!

My original recipe hadcandied peel and little bits of candied cherries, but my sons loathe anything with candied peel. I bet if your family dislikes hot cross buns the candied peel is the reason. This recipe uses dried fruit, and orange rind, or you can swap out the orange for lemon, depending on your families preferences.

Homemade Hot Cross Bun for Easter Breakfast, with real fruit, confectionary icing, on a pink plate with a cup of coffee in the background.

Ingredients for the Hot Cross Bun Sweet Dough

1 1/2 cup milk

1/3 c butter

2 eggs

1.5 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup sugar

2 pkg dry yeast

1/2 c of warm water

2 tsp sugar

Zest of one orange

1/2 cup of dried apricots

1 cup raisins

2 teaspoons of cinnamon

½ teaspoon cardamom

6 cups flour

Ingredients for the Glaze (optional)

This glaze is optional, but its a really quick and for Easter I think its worth it. It adds a tiny bit of moisture, but it mostly adds a shine to the top of the bun like you see in the pastry chef bakery hot cross buns.

1/4 c clear syrup or honey

1/4 c orange juice

1/4 c sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

Ingredients for the Cross

This cross is what makes these buns special for Easter. My classic recipe uses just flour, which is then placed on the bun prior to baking. My family looks forward to the icing, so I add icing sugar to the orange juice to make an icing instead. Feel free to just use icing sugar if you want the extra sweetness.

1/3 cup of flour

1/3 icing sugar

Orange juice from one orange, add more water if needed to thin it out.

Homemade hot cross buns recipe a single bun on a pink plate, with coffee and a tray of hot cross buns in the background.

Directions for Making the Sweet Hot Cross Bun Dough

Making the yeast sweet dough is a process. None of it is hard to do, but there are a few steps.

Start with a small saucepan, add the milk, 1/2 c sugar and the butter. Warm over med low heat until the butter melts. (about 5 min) Set aside to cool.

A saucepan on the stove with milk and melted butter for making hot cross buns.

Take a large mixing bowl. Place warm water, 2 tsp of sugar and yeast together in the bowl. Stir and let sit until the yeast softens (it will be fluffy floating on top). Takes about ten minutes.

While the milk is cooling and the yeast is softening, get the fruit ready. Cut up the apricots into little chunks. Grate the zest off of one orange (keep the orange), and measure the raisins. Place everything together in a small bowl.

cutting up apricots into small pieces
The fruit needed for my classic hot cross buns recipe. Grated orange, finely diced apricots and raisins all in a white bowl, with the knife and cutting board in the background.

By the time the yeast is soft, your milk mixture should be cooled enough. Beat 2 eggs, and add to the milk mixture, then add the vanilla.

Pour the warm milk egg mixture into the large bowl with the softened yeast.

Add 3 cups of flour to the yeast mixture.

Then add the raisins, cut apricots, and orange zest. Stir in.

A large bowl full of dough and fruit while making hot cross buns.

Add two cups of flour, and sprinkle the top with cinnamon and cardamon. Mix together, the dough will be sticky. Which is normal before you knead it.

A large bowl full of sticky sweet dough, before it is kneaded.

Spread 1/2 cup of flour onto a clean surface, turn your dough out onto the flour. Knead your dough. Sprinkle with the last 1/2 cup if flour a bit at a time as you knead.

Raising the Sweet Dough

Wash and butter the inside of your mixing bowl. Knead until your dough is much smoother and elastic.

The dough for hot buns kneaded smooth, and placed in a greased bowl for rising.

Form your dough into a large ball, place in the bowl. Cover with a towel and place in a warm spot. Let rise until double in bulk about 2 hours.

Grease a large, rectangular baking pan (approx. 12 x 15′). Line with parchment paper.

Pinch the dough off in 1/2 cup sizes. Form into buns and place in pan with a little space between them.

Pinching of section of a ball of sweet dough in half cup sizes to form into hot cross buns.
A pan full of unbaked hot cross buns, sitting on parchment paper in a large baking pan.

Cover again with the towel and let rise for 45 minutes.

After the buns have risen, using a small serrated knife, cut a shall cross pattern across each bun.

A pan full of hot cross buns that has been cut with a cross shape using a serated knife.

Recover with the towel and allow to rise 10 more minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Brush hot cross buns with melted butter, place in oven. Bake about half an hour until golden.

I seriously wish I could use smellavision for this part of the post. Cinnamon and fresh yeast always smells so good, but the cardamon had Hubs coming down from upstairs to see them.

A large pan full of just out of the oven fresh hot cross buns, that are golden brown and show little bits a apricot and raisins in the dough.

Making the Classic Hot Cross Bun Glaze

This is optional, but if you want classic hot cross buns I recommend making it. The glaze is easy to make, its just one more step.

Place the syrup(honey) sugar, juice and cinnamon in a small saucepan, Place over medium heat stirring to dissolve the sugar and create a syrup. Once boiling, let boil a minute, remove from heat and spoon over the still warm buns.

Drizzling orange syrupwith a teaspoon over fresh baked hot cross buns for Easter.

Making the Icing for the Cross

Place the icing sugar, flour and orange juice in a small bowl.

Squeezing an orange into a bowl full of flour and icing sugar for making confectioners icing for the cross on hot cross buns.

Beat until smooth, add a little water if you need to thin the icing more. Transfer the icing to a small plastic sandwich bag.

A small bowl with 1 cup of creamy confectioners icing for homemade hot cross buns.

I used a spatula to scrape all the icing into one little corner. Snip the corner then criss cross the buns where the slits are to form a cross on the top of each bun.

A small tray covered with classic traditional hot cross buns, with white icing cross on top.

Ways to Enjoy Hot Cross Buns

Warm right from the oven, just as they are is my favorite. Or you can warm in the microwave.

After a couple of days they will start to be less moist, we like to eat them with butter.

If by some miracle you have them longer then that, slice and make into french toast, or use in a simple bread pudding recipe.

Homemade hot cross buns recipe a single bun on a pink plate, with coffee and a tray of hot cross buns in the background.

Classic Hot Cross Buns Recipe from Scratch

The classic hot cross buns recipe you remember, except this recipe replaces candied peel with dried fruit.
Print Recipe
Prep Time:1 hr
Cook Time:30 mins
Rising Time:3 hrs

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • c butter
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 pkg dry yeast
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 orange or lemon
  • ½ cup dried apricots chopped fine
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cardamom
  • 6 cups white four

Glaze (Optional)

  • ¼ cup clear corn syrup or honey
  • ¼ cup orange juice squeeze orange used for rind
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon

Icing for Cross

  • cup flour
  • cup icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp orange juice squeezed from orange or add water if needed

Instructions

  • Start with a small saucepan, add the milk, 1/2 c sugar and the butter. Warm over med low heat until the butter melts. (about 5 min) Set aside to cool.
  • Take a large mixing bowl. Place warm water, 2 tsp of sugar and yeast together in the bowl. Stir and let sit until the yeast softens (it will be fluffy floating on top). Takes about ten minutes.
  • Cut up the apricots into little chunks. Grate the zest off of one orange (keep the orange), and measure the raisins. Place everything together in a small bowl.
  • Beat 2 eggs, and add to the milk mixture, then add the vanilla.
  • Pour the warm milk egg mixture into the large bowl with the softened yeast.
  • Add 3 cups of flour to the yeast mixture.
  • Then add the raisins, cut apricots, and orange zest. Stir in.
  • Add two cups of flour, and sprinkle the top with cinnamon and cardamon. Mix together, the dough will be sticky.
  • Spread 1/2 cup of flour onto a clean surface, turn your dough out onto the flour. Knead your dough. Sprinkle with the last 1/2 cup if flour a bit at a time as you knead.

Raising the Sweet Dough

  • Wash and butter the inside of your mixing bowl. Knead until your dough is much smoother and elastic.
  • Form your dough into a large ball, place in the bowl. Cover with a towel and place in a warm spot. Let rise until double in bulk about 2 hours.
  • Grease a large, rectangular baking pan (approx. 12 x 15'). Line with parchment paper.
  • Pinch the dough off in 1/2 cup sizes. Form into buns and place in pan with a little space between them.
  • Cover again with the towel and let rise for 45 minutes.
  • After the buns have risen, using a small serrated knife, cut a shall cross pattern across each bun. Recover with the towel and allow to rise 10 more minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Brush hot cross buns with melted butter, place in oven. Bake about half an hour until golden.

Making the Glaze (optional)

  • Place the syrup(honey) sugar, juice and cinnamon in a small saucepan, Place over medium heat stirring to dissolve the sugar and create a syrup. Once boiling, let boil a minute, remove from heat and spoon over the still warm buns.

Icing Cross

  • Place the icing sugar, flour and orange juice in a small bowl.
  • Beat until smooth, add a little water if you need to thin the icing more. Transfer the icing to a small plastic sandwich bag.
  • Snip the corner then criss cross the buns where the slits are to form a cross on the top of each bun..
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American, Canadian
Servings: 15 buns
Author: Leanna Forsythe
Cost: $5.00

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If you new to making yeast dough, I have another step by step recipe for making simple air buns. These buns are always appreciated, and I make this recipe several times a year.

My family also loves homemade Easter eggs. Especially now that my boys are men, they enjoy these eggs, and I give the Easter bunnies to the little ones.

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