The only hot cross bun recipe you need this Easter

Hannah Koelmeyer
17 March, 2015

We go to Australia's authority on classic baking, Margaret Fulton, for the ultimate hot cross bun recipe.

Nothing says Easter like freshly-baked hot cross buns. Traditionally eaten as a Good Friday breakfast, these spiced treats turn up in supermarkets around January 2, well before the last of the leftover Christmas stock has even been cleared off the shelves (we clearly wish we could eat hot cross buns all year round). 

There's a hot cross bun for every taste these days – fruitless, chocolate chip, iced, gluten-free – basically any twist you can imagine. But we're purists over here and favour the classic style of hot cross bun (and yes, that involves mixed peel!). And who else do you turn to for a classic recipe than Margaret Fulton?

Margaret Fulton’s hot cross buns

Freshly baked, homemade hot cross buns, the traditional Good Friday breakfast, are at their best served warm with butter. If not oven fresh, they are delicious toasted and buttered. Buns keep well wrapped in foil when cool, and stored in the refrigerator. They will keep for weeks in the freezer. Reheat in the oven for about 15 minutes before serving. 

Make 12–14


  • 4 cups (600 g) plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 30 g compressed yeast or 14 g (2 sachets) dry yeast
  • 60 g butter, diced
  • 1/4 cup currants or sultanas
  • 1/4 cup chopped mixed candied peel
  • 1/2 cup (110 g) caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
Paste for cross
  • 1/4 cup (35 g) self-raising flour
  • 2 tablespoons cold water

  • 1/4 teaspoon powdered gelatine
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar to glaze

Sift the flour, mixed spice, cinnamon and salt into a bowl. Rub in the butter, then mix in currants or sultanas and peel. If using dry yeast, stir it in now, with the sugar. Make a well in the centre.

If using compressed yeast, cream the yeast with the sugar and add a little of the warm water to dissolve the yeast completely. Blend the remaining water and milk with the yeast and add with the beaten egg to the flour. Mix to form a soft dough. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic.

Shape into a ball, place in a clean, greased bowl and turn the ball over so that the top of the dough is greased. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 11/4–11/2 hours or until doubled in bulk.

Turn the risen dough onto a lightly floured work surface and gently press out to 1 cm thick. Divide the dough into 12–14 pieces and shape each into a small ball. Place balls on a greased baking tray, at least 2.5 cm apart, or arrange in greased round cake tins. Cover and leave to rise in a warm place for 20–30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200°C.

To make the paste for the cross, combine the self-raising flour and water and beat to a smooth paste. Put into a baking paper funnel or a small piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle. Using a sharp knife, make a slight indentation in shape of a cross on top of each bun just before baking and pipe the prepared paste into cross.

Bake the buns for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, to make the glaze, sprinkle the gelatine over the water in a small saucepan. When softened, dissolve over a low heat. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.

Remove from the heat. Remove the buns from the oven and brush with the glaze while still hot. Stand the buns in a warm place, such as near the opened door of the turned-off oven. This helps to set the glaze.

For all of your Easter cooking needs, check out our Easter recipes page.


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