Updated Hot Cross Buns!

First, I have to thank Sue Koenig, whose eagle eye caught a couple of mistakes in the first recipe. I’ve corrected them to indicate the right amount of yield for the first recipe. I renamed it, too. Here’s why: I usually make 6 giant rolls but another reader said she gets 8. And checking my mail this morning, yet another person got 11. Looks like the amount of raisins can be varied, too. The reader who got 11 rolls only had 2/3 cup raisins and she said they came out fine. If you like even less raisins, go with 1/2 cup.

So it will be interesting to me to see if you make it how many rolls you wind up with!

As many of you know, each week I chat with my pals on the Sonrise Morning Show, Sacred Heart Radio. Today we talked about yeast.

Matthew 13:33 – “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until the yeast permeated all the dough.”

Now some of you may remember when yeast came in the form of moist little cakes that had to be refrigerated. Yeast in its original form was around thousands of years before Christ was born. It was a wild type.

Today we have dry yeast that is activated with a liquid. Easy to use. Here’s 2 recipes for hot cross buns. I always make them on Good Friday. Legend has it that if you make yeasted hot cross buns for Good Friday and hang one up in the kitchen, you’ll have success with anything you make with yeast all year ‘round!


Makes anywhere from 6-11 or so.

1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast, either regular or rapid rise

1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup sugar, divided

1 cup warm milk (110° to 115°)

1/4 cup salted butter, softened (or use unsalted and add 1/4 teaspoon salt to recipe)

1/2 to 1 cup raisins – I sometimes use golden raisins 

1 large egg 

3-1/2 to 3-3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used 3-1/2 cups of King Arthur unbleached)

In mixer bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in warm milk. Let stand for 5 minutes. It will foam up.  Add the butter, raisins, egg, salt  if you are using it, and remaining sugar; beat until smooth on medium. 

Stir in enough flour to form a soft dough on low speed. Turn onto a very lightly floured surface (not too much flour or your buns will be tough); knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. I used the dough hook so avoided the hand kneading and extra flour needed. 

 Place in a sprayed or buttered bowl, turning once to coat the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Stick a finger in the dough gently, if the indentation remains, you’re good to go; if it springs back, let it raise a bit more.

Punch dough down. Turn again onto a lightly floured surface; divide into portions. Shape each into a ball. As mentioned above, I did 6 giant ones but it looks like most folks are having better success with smaller rolls – from 8 to 11 or so. You do what you like.

 Place in a sprayed or buttered baking pan about an inch apart. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes or until golden and baked through. A toothpick inserted in center should come out clean. The larger the roll, the more amount of time it will take. If they brown too quickly, tent with foil. Mine were done at 25 minutes.

Frosting – after buns have cooled!

Whisk together:

2 cups confectioner’s sugar

1  tablespoon vanilla

2- 4 tablespoons water or more if needed – 2 makes a thicker glaze

Make a cross shape on each bun.

Tips from Rita’s kitchen:

As an experiment, I divided the dough in half and let half raise at room temperature and half raise in the frig, covered, overnight. Both batches came out great. 


Makes 12-15

Rapid/instant yeast raises faster than regular yeast. 

Ingredients buns

1 cup warm milk (110-115 degrees) – I used whole

1 pouch/2-1/4 teaspoons yeast, active/regular or rapid/instant 

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar 

4 tablespoons butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 large eggs

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3-1/2 to 3-3/4 cups all purpose flour or bit more if needed

1 cup raisins, currants, dried cherries or favorite

Ingredients/instructions thick icing

2 cups confectioners sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Enough hot water to make thick glaze — start with 2 tablespoons and go from there.

Instructions buns

Add yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar to warm milk. Stir and let sit a few minutes until top is foamy. 

Put brown sugar, butter, vanilla, eggs, salt, cinnamon and 1-1/2 cups flour into mixing bowl. 

Pour yeast mixture over and mix on low a couple minutes.
Slowly add rest of flour, scraping sides of bowl.

Add raisins and beat until dough pulls away from sides. This took a few minutes in my mixer. Dough will be soft and a bit sticky. 

If it doesn’t pull away from the sides of the bowl and looks real sticky, stir in flour, a couple teaspoons or so at a time. 

Continue to beat on low a couple more minutes, then remove, shape into a ball and place in sprayed bowl, turning to coat well. Bless dough!

Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled. Depending upon warmth of room, this could take up to 2 hours. 

Poke finger in dough when it looks like it’s doubled. If indentation remains, you’re good to go; if it springs back, let raise a bit more, but keep an eye on it.

Punch dough down. Divide into 12-15  pieces. Shape each into a ball and place in buttered 9×13 pan or parchment covered cookie sheet.

Cover and let rise again until puffy, 45-60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 and bake 20-25 minutes, rotating pan half way through for even browning.

Let cool and pipe icing into shape of cross. Do this while they’re still in the pan or frost individually.

They keep a couple days on counter, well covered, or in the refrigerator, well covered, up to 5 days.

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