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Classic Hot Cross Buns

Classic Hot Cross Buns

  • Author: Erin Clarkson
  • Prep Time: 3 hours
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 12 buns 1x
  • Category: Easter
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: New Zealand


These traditional style classic Hot Cross Buns are perfectly spiced and filled with fruit. They are easy to make and have a vanilla bean pastry cream cross in place of the traditional flour and water cross for a super simple but delicious twist on the classic. 



Pastry Cream Cross

  • 20g corn starch
  • 45g sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 200g whole milk
  • 20g unsalted butter, at room temperature

Bun Dough

  • 300g strongly brewed earl grey tea (see notes)
  • 200g raisins, golden raisins, or sultanas
  • 50g dried currants
  • 360g whole milk, lukewarm
  • 120g granulated sugar
  • 3 tsp instant yeast
  • 300g all-purpose flour
  • 290g bread flour (High grade or strong if you're outside the US!)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 3/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 130g unsalted butter, at room temperature

Sugar Syrup

  • 30g water
  • 25g Sugar
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla bean paste (optional)
  • tiny pinch of salt




  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the corn starch and sugar. Add the eggs, salt, and vanilla bean paste, and whisk well to combine.
  2. In a medium saucepan, place the milk over a low heat until just shy of a simmer.
    Whisking constantly, pour about half of the warm milk mixture into the egg mixture. Whisk until smooth, then add back into the saucepan. Whisking constantly, cook until thick. Add the butter and whisk to combine.
  3. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a round piping tip, and a clip just above the tip to prevent any leakage. Twist the piping bag closed, or secure with another clip, and store in the fridge until needed.


  1. Place the raisins and currants in a medium bowl, and cover with the hot Earl Grey tea. Leave to soak for 30 minutes, then drain thoroughly - I like to transfer them to a sieve and leave them to drain while I make the dough.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, place the sugar, yeast, all-purpose flour, bread flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, cloves, cardamom, and coriander, and mix well to combine.
  3. Add the milk and vanilla bean paste to the dry ingredients, and mix on low for 2-3 minutes. Increase the speed of the mixer to medium, and mix for a further 5 minutes. Add the butter a little at a time, waiting until it is incorporated until adding the next piece. Mix for a further 7-10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and soft.
  4. Turn out the dough onto a work surface and knead in the fruit by hand. It will take longer than you expect and feel squishy, but the fruit will eventually incorporate into the dough.
  5. Shape the dough into a ball, and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or place in the fridge overnight.


  1. Line a baking sheet or baking pan with parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, and weigh the dough. Divide the weight of the dough by 12, and divide the dough into 12 equal sized pieces (or however many buns you want).
  2. Roll each tightly into a ball, then arrange evenly on the baking pan. I find using a little bench flour helps to get the fruit all rolled on the inside. Leave a little space between - don’t space them too far apart if you want them to join together in the oven to give the ‘classic’ hot cross bun look.
  3. Lightly cover the pan with plastic wrap, and leave in a warm place for 1-2 hours, until the buns are puffy and the dough springs back when lightly pressed with a finger (rise time will depend on your environment).
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°f / 180°c. Using a sharp paring knife or razor blade, score crosses in the buns.
    Bake the buns for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and pipe the pastry cream in crosses in the holes provided by the scoring.
  5. Return the buns to the oven and bake for a further 10 to 15 minutes, or until the buns are lightly golden brown, or until they register 200°f / 90°c on an instant read thermometer. While the buns are baking, prepare the sugar syrup.
  6. Remove from the oven and leave to cool, before brushing on the sugar syrup (recipe below).


  1. Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Boil for 1-2 minutes, then leave to stand until ready to use.


Store leftover buns in an airtight container at room temperature. Reheat in the microwave briefly before eating. Serve with butter.



Pastry cream cross adapted from Ima

If you are in New Zealand, I suggest using all high grade flour in the place of the high grade / plain flour, as high grade is lower in strength than US bread flour which the recipe was originally tested with.

Keywords: Hot Cross Buns, Easy Hot Cross Buns, Classic Hot Cross Buns, Custard, Pastry Cream