The holy grail of hot cross buns

This time next week I hope to be getting ready to make my first batch of hot cross buns. As a child we never had them until Good Friday and there’s something nice about sticking to that – as long as you can resist the lure of cinnamon-scented butter wafting out of every shop door.

For ages I made Nigella’s hot cross buns from Feast – her own photo of them makes them look less than perfect and mine were more or less the same, as exhibited by this batch…

(In my defence, I did make these in France, where I only had a very vague handle on the sort of yeast I was using and a very temperamental oven. They did taste good!)

Last year I made Dan Lepard’s Spiced Stout Buns, which were very, very good – and obviously I’ve become a lot more adept….

But what am I going to make this year? In the past I’ve also made Delia Smith’s recipe and dabbled with a few Alison Holst versions. I’m tempted to go back to Dan’s buns, especially as we have a bottle of stout in the cupboard, but I can’t help but wonder if there’s another one out there that might be better.

What’s your favourite hot cross bun recipe? If you’ve got some Easter inspiration on your blog – be it buns, bread, bagels, muffins, whatever – add it in the linky list below. Otherwise, if you’ve got any traditional HCB advice, let me know in the comments.



  1. March 20, 2013 / 11:00 pm

    I was very successful the first year I made them but have been less so since… I added orange chocolate to mine last year which was incredible… no help at all am I ?

  2. March 21, 2013 / 5:52 am

    Ugh, it would be handy if I could type properly before adding my link (derr "chross") … but I've made HCB for the first time this year and the choc chip ones are my fave. I do have Nigella's Feast book so I should go try hers.

  3. March 21, 2013 / 7:48 am

    I've only ever used the recipe from the River Cottage bread handbook, although I add more spices (notably clove but also a little ground ginger) and about double the fruit. I did try using chai tea in place of the water and milk but the result was insipid and I went back to the ordinary kind.

  4. March 22, 2013 / 11:03 pm

    Made mine yesterday! Little and Fridays recipe is by far the best recipe I have ever used (home made hot cross buns seems to be a tradition now, and im constantly on the hunt for the best recipe!!). I soaked the fruit first with the peel of orange, and infused the milk with orange zest too!

    • March 25, 2013 / 3:05 am

      I didn't know there was a Little & Fridays one. Thanks for the tip!

  5. March 25, 2013 / 2:52 am

    i'm dreadful at baking with yeast, so … i buy them. and i hold out and eat them ONLY at easter time – which may sound weird, but they have been in the shops here for months (ridiculous). i like old fashioned fruity, spicy ones – not chocolate. traditional all the way.

    • March 25, 2013 / 3:06 am

      I agree – there's enough chocolate at Easter without it going in the HCBs as well!

  6. March 25, 2013 / 10:32 am

    THANKS so much Lucy for adding my Hot Cross Bun Brioche recipe, and I have to say that my recipe is a family recipe and very easy to make, so maybe have a go at them? Karen xxx

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