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Mar 25, 2012 04:07 PM

Yellow Goo for Hot Cross Buns

Okay, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. That luscious bright yellow gel/goo that commercial bakeries use on Hot Cross Buns.

I'm clueless about most things regarding baking, and have spent a couple of hours today looking at HCB recipes, but all of them have some sort of icing rope you lay over the buns, or wet icing that gets piped over them. Some with egg, some without.

Does anyone know what that yellow goo is called, and know of a proper recipe to duplicate it at home?

This is the recipe I've zero'd in on that I'd like to try my hand at baking this week:

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  1. I have never seen yellow goo on a Hot Cross Bun. Around here, and in NYC, they use a white frosting to make the cross. Sorry.... I have some nice white frosting recipes for hot cross buns, but none of them are yellow.

    9 Replies
    1. re: smtucker

      Hmm, off and on this afternoon I've been trying to think of where else I've seen it. It's like that clear goo that comes in a tube to write things like Happy Birthday on cakes, but it's lemon flavored. I'm not an extensive baker, so I've no idea what to even search for.

        1. re: RelishPDX

          i am used to plain, white "goo" on hxb, too :)

          but, you say it's lemon flavored? try just a glaze made of confectioner's sugar and lemon juice, whisked.

          1. re: soupkitten

            This is amazing. I went through 10 pages of Google images for HCBs, and not a single one had yellow goo for the crosses. I guess I'll have to ask someone in the bakery at Safeway. I've never known a HCB without clear yellow goo for the crosses, but now I can't find one with it, at least online.

            1. re: RelishPDX

              I will just note that the Hot Cross Bun is actually a reflection of a religious moment. The sign on the top of this bun is the Cross that Jesus was crucified on. The white represents the purity of the holy trinity, etc.... [I am not a religious historian.]

              I don't see where in the Easter thing, the raising of the dead to save our sins, there is yellow.

              1. re: smtucker

                Well you do have a point there regarding the color white.

                I phoned a friend in the SF Bay Area and asked what color the cross should be on a HCB. She said "yellow", LOL.

                She figured out that what it is is "piping gel", and I found a recipe for it at the link below:


                It came out clear, tasted of lemon, and is exactly what I know for the crosses on HCBs. Four drops of food coloring made it the yellow I was looking for. Perhaps it's a regional thing, and I just haven't noticed HCBs in the stores if they have white crosses, since my mind thinks yellow is the color they're supposed to be.

                The strips in the recipe I linked earlier have egg in them, and aren't clear, which was throwing me off a bit.

                Now I just need to buy a piping bag (it's always something!) and I'm in business. Thanks for helping me work through this, everyone.

                1. re: RelishPDX

                  I live in the SF Bay Area and see hot cross buns with white icing crosses, not with yellow gel crosses, but in various non-supermarket bakeries. Sounds like the lemon gel is a mass-market standard. Glad you found a way to create what you are looking for.

                2. re: smtucker

                  "I don't see where in the Easter thing, the raising of the dead to save our sins, there is yellow."

                  The liturgical colors in the Catholic faith for Easter are white and gold, with yellow being an alternate color allowed for gold.

          2. The recipe in the link you provided has the directions you are looking for. The last 2 ingredients are for the glaze, and the 2 above it are for the strips. Steps 6 and 9 discuss mixing and applying them. They're baked on, which enhances the golden color.

            In the U.S., at least, I've only seen white frosting crosses, but Elizabeth David, in English Bread and Yeast Cookery, talks about strips of peel or "little bands of ordinary pastry" being applied by bakers, but calls in "unnecessary fiddling work."

            1. We used pastry cream at the bakery I worked at a few years ago. We piped the custard on the roll before baking. It suppose turned into a "yellow goo"

              1. I'm very interested in this thread because I have no concept of what you mean! In the UK, the cross on a HCB could no way be called 'goo', or have anything to do with lemon. It is dry and is almost an integral part of the glazed bun top; it's made of plain pastry or flour and water paste. Who knew there'd be a cultural difference here!?! Are your crosses 'wet', then? Could you dip a finger in them and it would be sticky?

                9 Replies
                1. re: flashria

                  I live in Nova Scotia. I have only ever seen white crosses on hot cross buns. Here, they are frosting but there are differences in the consistency, as some frosting is then mind that hardens (more common) while other frosting stays soft. The kind with soft frosting can be messy.

                  1. re: flashria

                    This sounds like what I remember seeing in western Canada (can't remember what I've seen anywhere else -- must not have made a impression). Flavourless, dry, off-white (perhaps even yellowish) crosses cooked into the glaze on top of the bun. Always looks like it should be some sort of delicious pastry cream, always turns out to be tough and bland.

                    1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

                      I always thought that the religious significance of the cross meant that it was intended to be austere rather than fancy or luxurious - a sober reminder rather than added yumminess! Certainly that's the way they always are in the UK; I wonder if that'll change as our society becomes more secular.....

                      1. re: flashria

                        I never saw the cross on there as somber, as we, in my family, have them on Easter Sunday, and there's nothing "unjoyous" about that day :). However, I think most people probably just consider them to be tasty.

                        1. re: CanadaGirl

                          I'm not a religious person and have no kind of agenda here, so I'm only discussing for the sake of it - but originally they were for eating on Good Friday with the cross a reminder of the crucifixion. Therefore I don't think the cross was supposed to add tastiness. But of course anyone can do as they choose; just interested in the variation in what I thought was a completely standard item.

                          1. re: flashria

                            Oh, I wasn't meaning to start anything either! I didn't realize they were traditional for Good Friday. Looks like my family got it "wrong". :)

                            1. re: CanadaGirl

                              My basically non-religious family ate HCBs for breakfast on Easter Sunday too. A couple of them were just enough to stave off hunger before hitting up the buffet lines at where ever we were heading to for brunch without filling us up.

                    2. re: flashria

                      "Are your crosses 'wet', then? Could you dip a finger in them and it would be sticky?"

                      The ones I've always known, yep! The gel that I made last night is a near perfect rendition of what I've always known. I had to pipe the gel onto the buns after baking, otherwise the crosses would have melted onto the baking sheet.

                      BTW, anyone who is planning on using the recipe for the HCBs I linked above, please be aware that I had to pull the batch I baked at 10 minutes. The recipe states a baking time of 15-18 minutes at 475°. I would have had Hot Charred Buns by then. Otherwise, they're tasty. Also, Pumpkin Pie spice worked well as a substitute for the 'mixed spice' in the recipe.

                      1. re: flashria

                        Flashria - the buns in Australia and New Zealand sound the same as English ones. When I used to bake them as a kid the cross was made from flour and water.

                      2. I just made some hot cross buns. I used a mixture of flour and butter which I rolled between my hands into ropes and then formed a cross on top of the buns. It baked into them. I thought it was better than the powdered sugar/milk mixture most people use. It was a sort of light yellow, dry color.