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Hot Cross Buns

Courtesy Vallery Lomas
Cook Time:
20 mins
Prep Time:
3 hrs

Chef notes

These sweet rolls that are a cross between yeasty dinner rolls and sweet breakfast buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday to mark the end of Lent. A paste of flour and water is piped on them after they’ve risen, but before they’re baked, to give them their iconic look. After baking them, I brush some honey butter on top to give them a nice glaze.


Swap Option: You can swap the whole milk in the buns for reduced-fat milk, non-dairy milk such as soy, almond, or oat, or water. You can swap the dried cranberries for raisins, or you  omit them altogether.



For the buns
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup hot water
  • cups whole milk, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature, beaten
  • 2 teaspoon instant yeast (1 package)
  • cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing
  • zest of 1 small orange
  • 1 apple, peeled and finely diced
For the paste:
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup water
For the hot butter glaze
  • 3 tablespoons salted or unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons honey



Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a reusable silicon mat. Plump the dried cranberries by soaking them in a small bowl of the hot water. Set aside.


Add the room temperature milk to the bowl of a stand mixer along with the eggs and egg yolk. Add the sugar, yeast, flour, and baking powder, followed by the salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange zest and softened butter. 


Using the dough hook, knead for 2 minutes on low to bring the ingredients together. Increase the speed to medium and knead until the dough is elastic and the gluten has developed (it will pass the windowpane test), an additional 8-10 minutes. Drain the cranberries. Add the cranberries and diced apple and knead until the dough is soft and elastic and the raisins and apple are evenly dispersed, an additional 1-2 minutes. 


Lightly butter a large glass bowl. Scrape the dough into the bowl and cover with either a dish cloth or plastic wrap.  Let the dough rise for about an hour. It will become puffy, but it’s ok if it doesn’t double in size.


Remove the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 15 parts.  Using floured hands, form each part into a ball.  Due to the raisins and apple, the ball won’t be completely smooth, but that’s OK. Add each ball to the lined baking sheet, spacing all 15 evenly apart. Cover the baking sheet with a clean dish towel or plastic wrap, and allow to rise a second time until they’re touching and look bloated and puffy.  


Preheat oven to 375 F. Make the flour paste by whisking together the flour and water. Whisk well so the batter is not lumpy. Add the batter to a piping bag fitted with a plain, small to medium tip (put the paste in a ziptop bag and snip the corner). Pipe a cross on each bun. Transfer the buns to the oven.


Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden-brown. While baking, prepare the honey butter by stirring the melted butter with honey in a small bowl.  Once the buns are golden brown, remove them from the oven and brush the tops with the honey butter.


Carefully lift up the parchment paper and transfer the buns to a wire rack to cool. Allow to cool completely (or enjoy warm, if you’re like me and you can’t wait!).