Easter Hot Cross Buns – Recipes lie. Also, they take 3hrs people.

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Okay – first note. I always forget how long hot cross buns take to make. Never mind the cooking time (we’ll get to that bit) – but if you make them properly with yeast and such like, you need 3 hours for rising and proving. That’s THREE HOURS. So if you want them for, say, Easter Sunday afternoon tea, don’t start them after lunch. Just saying.
So. Recipe.
I used Tesco’s Real Food Easter Hot Cross Buns one – I admit it, the picture alone lured me in. See, when a recipe says at the top “Takes: 20 mins to prepare and 15 mins to cook, 3 hrs 00 mins to cool” I actually, y’know, believe it – and naturally I scoffed at the whole 3-hrs business. I mean, come on, what takes 3hrs to cool?


What it actually means is “Takes 3 HOURS to make and whilst the recipe tells you to bake them for 25 minutes, the 15 minutes at the top is a better guide”… Read on, and you’ll find out why. I’ll not put you off yet.


  • 500g quality strong bread flour + a little extra for dusting
  • 7g sachet of dried yeast
  • 1½tsp of salt
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 300ml mixed milk and warm water
  • 170g juicy sultanas
  • zest of two small oranges
  • 60g mixed peel
  • 2tsp of ground cinnamonFor the cross piping
  • 75g plain flour
  • 1tbsp of caster sugar
  • 80ml water


Sift the bread flour, caster sugar and salt together in a bowl then mix in the yeast. Gradually add the mixed milk and warm water and mix to achieve a smooth pliable dough. Lightly flour a work surface then tip out the dough and knead for 5-6 minutes until pliable. Place back into the bowl, cover with a  clean tea towel and allow to prove (rise) for 1 hour.

Carefully mix the peel, orange zest, sultanas and ground cinnamon into the dough and make sure they are evenly distributed. Then leave to rise in the bowl for another hour.

Lightly grease 2 large baking sheet and then pull off 75g pieces of the dough and make them into balls. Weigh one to get an idea of how much dough constitutes 75g. Place the balls onto the baking sheets and allow to rest and prove for another hour. Slightly flatten the tops.

Preheat the oven to 220°C / Gas Mark 8.

Make the flour piping by combining the plain flour, tablespoon of caster sugar and 80ml of water and blend until the mixture is smooth**. Transfer to a piping bag and with a small plain nozzle pipe a cross over the top of the buns.

Bake the buns for 10 minutes at 220°C then turn the oven down to 200°C (180°C Fan) / Gas Mark 6 and bake for a further 15 minutes.*

Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes and serve warm. The buns can also be sliced in half, toasted and served with butter.

* if you do this, this is what your buns will look like.

hot cross buns recipe

Mmmm. Tempting.

Actually – they ARE tasty. Light and fluffy on the inside, with a delicious warm cinnamony fruity hot-cross-bun-y type flavour. That’s if you can get through the overdone crust and burnt-to-black outside raisins.

Also, that picture at the top clearly shows the buns are glazed – this is not mentioned at all in the recipe, and my buns were decidedly un-shiny. I’m starting to suspect foul play in the recipe-writing-and-photographing division.

**PLUS – the pastry-ish white cross is rather runny. I suggest you don’t add all the water in one go, to ensure your pastry cross remains stiff and cross-like.

I shall be making them again, but next time I shall NOT be baking for a further 15 minutes – rather I shall simply do a 15 minutes on 180 degrees) in my fan oven, and take it form there.

Author: Laura

A 70's child, I’ve been married for a Very Long Time, and appear to have made four children, and collected one large and useless dog along the way. I work, I have four children, I have a dog… ergo, I do not do dusting or ironing. I began LittleStuff back in (gulp) 2004. I like huge mugs of tea. And Coffee. And Cake. And a steaming cone of crispy fresh fluffy chips, smothered in salt and vinegar. #healthyeater When I grow up I am going to be quietly graceful, organised and wear lipstick every day. In the meantime I *may* have a slight butterfly-brain issue.

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  1. At least yours tasted okay, you should have seen mine!

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  2. I made a different recipe to you, from the GBBO masterclass. It only proves twice so that’s a whole hour saved! That recipe also suggested adding water a tablespoon at a time to the flour for the crosses until it’s the right consistency. And you do glaze them at the end with warmed apricot jam.

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  3. I second Kate’s comment above – I made them from the GBBO recipe and they came out great. The proving part just means you can go off and do other things – I left them for longer than an hour on one occasion and they were fine. Also, with the crosses, the piping needs to be thin and quite stiff (a sort of thick toothpaste consistency) which holds it’s shape.

    But in truth, as long as they taste good, it doesn’t really matter what they look like!

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