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Chef John's Hot Cross Buns

Rated as 4.75 out of 5 Stars

"Real hot cross buns have the cross baked into them, not piped on afterwards. These are studded with rum-soaked currants. I based my recipe on one I found on Anson Mills' web site."
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3 h 15 m servings 201
Original recipe yields 16 servings (16 buns)


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  1. Place currants in a small bowl. Heat rum until steaming in a small pan and pour over currants to soften them, about 2 hours. Drain; reserve liquid for another use.
  2. Whisk warm milk, 1/4 cup flour, and yeast together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Let sit about 15 minutes to ensure yeast is active; small bubbles should start to rise to the surface. Add sugar, beaten egg, lemon and orange zest, cinnamon, salt, cardamom, nutmeg, melted butter, and most of the remaining flour (you might not need it all). Mix with a dough hook attachment until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and becomes slightly elastic, 5 or 6 minutes. Continue kneading until dough is soft and shiny, about 10 minutes. Remove dough from dough hook and shape into a ball. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface.
  3. Flatten dough into a large oval about 1/2 inch thick. Sprinkle currants evenly over surface of dough. Fold dough into thirds. Turn and fold into thirds again. Reshape dough into a round ball. Transfer to lightly oiled mixing bowl. Cover and let rise in a relatively warm, draft-free place until double in size, about 2 hours.
  4. Poke dough down a bit with your fingertips. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Flatten out dough into an even shape. Divide into 16 equal pieces using a bench scraper.
  5. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat.
  6. Roll each piece of dough into a round ball. Arrange evenly on prepared baking sheet. Let rise 15 minutes.
  7. Mix 1/4 cup water and 1/3 cup flour together in a mixing bowl until mixture is thick enough to hold its shape but thin enough to pipe. Transfer mixture to a piping bag.
  8. After buns have risen 15 minutes, pipe a cross on top of each. Let rise until doubled from original dough balls, another 15 or 20 minutes.
  9. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  10. Transfer pan to preheated oven. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
  11. Combine 1/4 cup sugar and 3 tablespoons water in a pan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until sugar dissolves and mixture starts to thicken, or until it reaches a temperature of 225 degrees F. Remove from heat.
  12. Let buns cool on a rack for 5 minutes before glazing. Brush glaze lightly over the tops of the buns.


  • Chef's Tips:
  • Any sweet dough will work with this easy technique, especially rich, and fragrant examples, like our¬†Italian Easter Bread¬†dough. Times may vary, but regardless of the dough, simply wait for the dough to double in size, and proceed.
  • When adding the flour, hold back a little of it until you sure you need it all. You can always add, but can't remove!
  • If you want to get all your buns the same size, weight your dough in grams before dividing, and then divide by 16. Then, weight each of your dough balls to that exact amount, and boom, your tray of buns will look like the ones you saw on that magazine cover.

Nutrition Facts

Per Serving: 201 calories; 6.1 30.4 4.5 26 119 Full nutrition

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Read all reviews 16
  1. 20 Ratings

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    Rated as 1 out of 5 Stars
Most helpful positive review

These are great. Not a lot of recipes follow this traditional technique where the crosses are baked into the bun. These taste great. If you like raisins you can double the measurement.

Most helpful critical review

I did not care for this recipe. It's tough and dry once baked.

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Most positive
Least positive

These are great. Not a lot of recipes follow this traditional technique where the crosses are baked into the bun. These taste great. If you like raisins you can double the measurement.

At last, a traditional recipe for hot cross buns the way they should look and taste! If you are not familiar with the spices, they can be halved or omitted and you will still have a lovely break...

I will definitely make this again! My 4-year-old grandson helped me make it and loved eating them later. Easy and delicious.

I have never written a review and I use this app every day but I just had to say the fragrance in this bread is so amazing... I just finished kneading this bread and I can't stop smelling my han...

I've made Hot Cross Buns for Easter for years, but this is by far the best recipe I have ever tried. They were so good, I think I may have to make them for Christmas this year too!

My first attempt came out great.! Thanks Chef John. It will be one to keep. :)

Great recipe and easier to prepare than I expected. The only issue is they. must be consumed the day they are made. The crosses become wallpaper paste overnight and cannot be chewed. Overall,...

I've been trying to make good hot cross buns for years and finally I have found the recipe I needed. these buns are exactly as they should be. delicious. easy to make. I didn't have rum so I use...

I've made these twice now, both times they were delicious. First time the only change I made was I used raisins (what I had in the pantry) instead of currants and divided the dough to make 12 bu...