Hot Cross Bun Recipe and an Inspirational Easter Devotional

This Easter we’ve put together a beautiful recipe for easy-to-make hot cross buns paired with a devotional.

A hot cross bun recipe for you

We all love these delicious seasonal treats, so this Easter we’ve put together a beautiful recipe for easy-to-make hot cross buns. Once you’ve made them, settle down to reflect on the Easter message with a devotional for you.

Children mix dough

Ruth, Emily and Emiliana pictured above are sponsored through Compassion. Sponsoring a child means not only changing the course of their life but also supporting an entire community. Through their local Compassion project, run by the local church, visionary Pastor Luis has created a baking class that not only teaches children practical skills but also provides nourishment for those in need.

“People here have no dreams of undertaking something different, which is why I thought it’s important that the children should learn to do something totally different where their skills can grow and improve their lifestyle.” — Pastor Luis By sponsoring a child, you can help provide essential resources for their education, health, and personal development so they can dream of a future free from poverty.


Hot Cross Bun Ingredients

This recipe makes 12 hot cross buns

  • 225ml milk
  • 50g butter, diced, plus extra for serving
  • 2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
  • 500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 x 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp mixed spice
  • oil, for greasing
  • 150g seedless raisins and 75g mixed peel*

(*But you don’t have to stick with fruit buns! Instead you can swap out 150g or raisins for any other dried fruit, or try 150g of delicious chocolate chips.)

For the crosses and glaze:

  • 100g plain flour
  • 2 tbsp orange marmalade (shredless), for glazing


Children making buns

1.    Pour 225ml of milk into a small pan and heat to just below boiling point.
2.    Add 50g of butter to the hot milk.
3.    Leave to cool for 5-10 minutes.
4.    Meanwhile, blend together 500g of strong white bread flour, 50g of caster sugar, 7g of fast-action dried yeast, 1 tsp of cinnamon and ½ tsp of mixed spice into a mixing bowl with a pinch of salt and stir.
5.    Add 2 beaten eggs to the cooled milk.
6.    Make a well in the centre of your dry ingredients, gradually pour in the milk and egg mixture, bring together to form a slightly sticky dough.
7.    Tip the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). 
8.    Place the dough in a lightly-oiled bowl and cover with a clean cloth. Prove in a warm place for 1 hr, or until doubled in size.
9.    Knock back the dough removing any air bubbles. Add your flavouring and knead, on a floured surface, for 5 mins more.
10.    Roll into a ball and portion into 12 equal pieces.
11.    Shape the pieces into rounds and place onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Leave a 3-5cm gap between each bun, cover with a tea towel and set aside to prove for 20-30 mins.
12.    Preheat the oven to gas mark 6, 200°C, fan 180°C.
13.    Mix 100g of plain flour with 6 tbsp water to make a thick paste. Spoon into a piping bag with a round nozzle.
14.    Pipe a cross onto each bun, then bake for 20 mins, or until golden brown (the bases should sound hollow when tapped).
15.    To finish, glaze the buns by heating 2tbsp of shredless marmalade. Use a pastry brush to coat the top of the buns.

Hot Cross Buns …one a penny, two a penny ..

Okay, you’ve made your hot cross buns so spread some butter, put the kettle on and take a moment to remind yourself what it’s all about.

Hot cross buns and cup of tea

The History of Hot Cross Buns

Buns with crosses on have been around for a very long time. In pagan times they were made in celebration of spring and the goddess of dawn, Eostre, with the cross symbolising the 4 phases of the moon.

Then, according to English folklore a monk in St Alban’s, Thomas Rocliffe, developed a recipe for Alban buns which he distributed to the poor on Good Friday. The buns were said to have ‘become holy’ and in 1592 Queen Elizabeth 1 decreed they must be baked at no other time than on Good Friday or Christmas or for funerals!

The first recorded reference to them, however, was in the early 1700’s with the words to this hot cross buns song: ‘Good Friday comes this month, the old woman runs, with one a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns!’

Tradition has it that if you hung a bun from the rafters in your kitchen it would not go mouldy all year. Supposedly it would enhance friendships, prevent fires and if taken on a voyage it would stop that ship from being wrecked!

Hot cross buns and the Easter Cross

But you know what? Brother Thomas Rocliffe had the right idea. He looked at the cross bun and saw another kind of cross – the cross of Jesus.

Into his dough he mixed spices that symbolised the embalming of Jesus’ body. We here at Compassion also love the fact that he gave them away to the poor.

We’re reminded once again this Easter of the power of the cross, where Jesus took the punishment for the things we’ve done wrong, and His resurrection and victory over the death. This good news is for the poor, the sinner, the disenfranchised, the lonely, the broken, in fact… everyone!

I’m reminded of the words of an Easter hymn by Isaac Watts, for it was ‘At the cross where I first saw the light and the burden of my heart rolled away, it was there by faith I received my sight’.

So, as you enjoy your hot cross bun – toasted or otherwise – contemplate the incredible love of a God who was willing to sacrifice Himself for the world and thank Him that because He lives, we can also live.

Easter signs Bolivia

Looking for more fun activities? Find out more and teach your family about the countries where Compassion works. 




Tim Robertson

Words by Tim Robertson


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Compassion UK Christian Child Development, registered charity in England and Wales (1077216) and Scotland (SC045059). A company limited by guarantee, Registered in England and Wales company number 03719092. Registered address: Compassion House, Barley Way, Fleet, Hampshire, GU51 2UT.