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Feb 28, 2009 01:02 PM

Hot Cross Bun Season: Have a good recipe??

Hi, Chowhounds, I have googled around and checked my cook books and tried out about 6 different Hot Cross Bun recipes with no success.

Some are like rocks and others are tasteless.

I'd like to learn a a tasty recipe that I can repeat successfully.

And if you have instructions for a bread machine dough or food processor dough that works well for you, that's all the better!

Any help would be appreciated.


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  1. I haven't tried this recipe yet, but I'm planning to this year. Here's a link to the post:
    I think I'll add raisins in mind.
    If you try them first, let us know what you think,

    1. This is now my "go-to" Hot Cross Bun recipe. It works perfectly every time, the buns are delicious and moist, not too sweet and have a good mixed of candied peel and currants. AND they are just like the ones I used to buy in the bakeries *back home* right down to the way the crosses are made. The little bit of WW flour in the recipe gives them a great colour. The only change I make is to double the spice.

      6 Replies
      1. re: toastnjam

        Thankls, eamcd, for linking me to the Chow thread. That one didn't come up when I searched the site before and I will try those out, too.

        And thanks, toastnjam, for the Wild Yeast recipe. That one came up in my google search and I was totally attracted to the beautiful photo. I printed the recipe and added it to my list to try this week. Hamelman makes some wonderful breads, I think. I notice he uses a pre-ferment (sponge) in his, which will no doubt give them some nice flavor. For the 'whole wheat' I wonder if I can substitute the White Whole Wheat Flour sold by KA...?

        I also found a long HCB blog post on King Arthur's Flour site with lots of photos of the dough making process. Interestingly they added one Tablespoon of Baking Powder to the dough recipe along with the yeast.

        I baked some HCB yesterday from my Bread Lovers' Bread Machine Cookbook (Hensberger) but I made too many adjustments (added different fruits, changed the spices, changed the icing recipe to cream cheese (icky)) so they didn't turn out so well. Nice and soft, though.

        Thanks again for the tips. I'm hoping by Holy Week I will have some nice buns to share with friends and relatives. And I'll keep you posted on my progress!

        1. re: dumas

          Looking forward to hearing about your progress. I've been *practicing* making HCB's for about a month now and can safely say I've achieved perfection with the Wild Yeast recipe. Interestingly, that recipe is very similar to a very old NZ one I have with the exception that the glaze is made with a touch of gelatin.

          The KA recipe came up in my search's too but I thought the method a little odd but who knows...?

          Good Luck!

          1. re: toastnjam

            I made the King Arthur recipe last year, and didn't like them at all. i ate one as i recall and the rest went in the trash

        2. re: toastnjam

          I am in! Went to the market today to get milk and fresh flour, but totally struck out on the candied citrus peels. I bought some oranges and lemons to make my own; but the range of sugar::water ratios is overwhelming. Does someone have a tried and true version to share?

          1. re: smtucker

            Ugh, most of the candied citrus available in the supermarkets are just plain nasty. Too gummy & sticky and sweet. I prefer them drier and still with a big citrus tang. I can see why candied fruit gets a bad rap. Do you have a Whole Foods nearby? My local WF sells wonderful candied peel strips in the chocolate & cheese section. In a pinch I use orange & lemon zest.

            1. re: toastnjam

              Actually, one of my markets is Whole Foods. No candied citrus peel to be found.

        3. If you don't have Elizabeth David's "English Bread and Yeast Cookery" in your home library, think about getting a copy. I love this book for her common sense approach to bread baking, and have made many yeast breads and buns from it. Here's a link to the hot cross buns recipe from that book, printed in the NYTimes followed by a link to another website which discusses HCBs and Elizabeth David (though I only skimmed the article) with a recipe for HCB at the bottom.

          Do give Ms. David's buns a try, I doubt you'll be disappointed.

          1. Thank you for the Elizabeth David info. I don't have her "English Breads..." but looked it up on Amazon and I see they have some used available for a decent price so I will go ahead and order on your recommendation.

            I did try the HCBs from another English book and they were nice but heavier than the ones I grew up with. I'm thinking that the English versions of HCBs are more like scones with the pastry cross, rather than the more spongey ones with the icing cross that I see around here. (But those are probably the inferior baked and frozen types the NYT talks about!


            The NYTs article was a good survey of what's been available out there in the bakeries during HCB season. I thought it was amusing that they interviewed the baker from New Glarus, WI, which is really an out of the way Scandinavian community that we used to visit (35 years ago)when my husband was in law school up there. We found that they really know how to bake in New Glarus!

            I am baking the Hamelman version today. Tomorrow will try the Elzi. David version. (It's a good thing I have some college boys nearby who are willing taste testers, or I'd be really in trouble diet wise!)

            Thanks for all the good tips, everyone!

            1. Two days ago, I made candied orange and lemon, drying them so they could be included in a batter.

              Then today, I made the Wild Yeast recip. For me the times were totally off. First rise needed over 5 hours. Now, my house is 64ยบ which might have made a difference, but this is a really drastic difference. I ended up placing the bowl of dough on a radiator to get any rise at all. For the second rise, I cooked after only 1.5 hrs. This had turned into a long day.

              In the future, I would probably add more fruit to the batter. For the glaze I used the simple syrup that I used to make the candied fruit. This adds a lovely refreshing flavor to the bun.

              The flavor is of the bun is really nice, but they are missing a certain lightness in texture. I know that my yeast is fine since the dinner rolls I made today rose without any issues.

              I think I will try another recipe to see if I can get a better combination of taste and texture.

              3 Replies
              1. re: smtucker

                We have about the same ambient temp in our house and to help dough rise I have to put it high up on top of our tall kitchen bookcase. It still takes about twice as long as in the summer.

                1. re: smtucker

                  Once I got over the fact this these were not the EXACT hot cross buns of my childhood, I began to really like them. So, I made them again. This time, I didn't fight the fact that my house is cold. I let the sponge take as long as it needed to rise. The resulting hot cross buns have all the flavor along with a lightness in texture. Well worth the second run.

                  1. re: smtucker

                    I wanted to make hot cross buns for Easter this year, so I tried the Wild Yeast recipe after browsing this thread. Overall, the buns tasted fine but weren't as tender as I would have liked. They were a little dense, and had a chewier quality than I prefer. I'm not an experienced baker, so I can't say for sure what I did or didn't do to make them tough. A few things that happened:
                    - I let the sponge rest for 30 mins. as stated, not sure if it was indeed tripled in size.
                    - All resting of the dough was done in the oven with the light on. I know it got pretty warm in there, so I turned off the light periodically. However, the dough seemed to rise nicely in the time specified.
                    - The dough did NOT need 8 minutes to develop the gluten. I don't have a stand mixer, and burned out my hand mixer trying to use it as a dough hook for only about 2 minutes. At that point I kneaded the dough for a bit, but it really had come together into a smooth ball. Any more would have been crazy.
                    - The pastry flour mixture for the crosses was so thick I ended up breaking off pieces and rolling them into strips with my hands. Plus they didn't really stay on very well after baking. I think I'll just score crosses in next time, or use an 'icing' to make them.
                    - I should have let the syrup reduce further, as the glaze was very thin.

                    As for the spices and fruit, there were a LOT of currants in this recipe, but ended up being nicely flavoured. I think I'll try them again next year, hopefully I'll have a stand mixer by then!!

                    Until next Easter...