Baking: Hot Cross Buns

I love a good hot cross bun.

It’s sad though. Hot cross buns only go on sale between the period just after Christmas ’til Easter-time. Then they seem to go on a break from the shelves for a good couple of months before they gradually reappear at the beginning of each year. It’s like an unspoken rule that deems January-April socially acceptable but decries May-December deplorable.

I don’t agree. Hot cross buns are delicious any time of the year, and any time of the day. They should be enjoyed all year ’round. They’re a fruit bun. A delicious fruit bun. Best had all toasty and firm on the outside, steamy on the inside and generously buttered up. I think there’d be a market for it; maybe the same market that buy them when they’re available? Those who like fruit buns? Who doesn’t like tucking into glorious, soft fruity flesh? 

Flavour always trumps any cultural and social meanings ascribed to food. The composition of a dish—or of anything for that matter—doesn’t change simply because one is aware or knowledgeable of its history or significance. Knowledge influences perceptions, opinions, and ideas; it impacts on the hot cross bun as a construct. Indeed, the humble hot cross bun is a complex symbol: a quilt interwoven with narrative and history that is richly underpinned by beliefs, religion, followers, and devotees. 

At the risk of sounding sacrilegious, I ask the following, for argument’s sake—and in honesty, because I revel in contemplating the ridiculous and in entertaining nugatory musings. 

Does knowing the story of the hot cross bun affect its taste? Does not knowing the story affect its taste? Deliciousness doesn’t need a story for us to decide what to feel about it. Deliciousness speaks for itself. 

Should the values and attitudes attached to the humble hot cross bun have any bearing on the bun as a source of nutrition, and enjoyment? Should there be the separation of church and food when it comes to decisions on the timing of hot cross bun sales and availability? What impact do culture and religion actually have on hot cross bun sales? Is this considered in some PhD’s thesis? 

It is arguable that the absence of year-round sales of hot cross buns virtually everywhere is responsive to the section of the community that would feel offended​ at the idea. Divorcing knowledge and surrounding significance, with positivity, the ‘what is’ composition of the hot cross might be seen as too big an encroachment on established beliefs and values. The perception would probably stand even if they were sold under the guise of ‘fruit buns’—which does hold a lick of irony. It’s​ not really a guise if the name is the exact descript of the bun in question. 

Maybe going against the current of the the status quo, like many things, is just not worth the trouble. Fighting perceptions is a task in itself. No one’s been deprived of anything but enjoyment  potential, which for obvious reasons would never hold water. It’s like kids and Disneyland. Enjoyment potential would be at all time levels of high as a kid. If you don’t get to go—putting aside the holes in this nonsensical analogy, like the fact that the vast majority don’t go and that you’d be diagnosed with the disorder known as entitlement syndrome—could you reasonably complain about being deprived of all that potential enjoyment you might have had? The opportunity to convert potential enjoyment to enjoyment? I’d say so, if you’re one of Michael Jackson’s kids. Most people are lucky if they have bread and butter. Wanting hot cross buns, all year? Why that’s next level.

Needless to say, it’s an incredibly, astoundingly trivial matter: there are bigger fish to fry. There always are. 

With that in mind, baking inspiration struck and I decided to bake a batch. 

I had to find my sultanas first. They weren’t lost-lost; they were lost somewhere in the kitchen sultanas and had somehow moved cupboard. Much joy there was in finding my sultanas. It made a reality of my dream of having hot cross buns tonight, past the shops being open, by the light of my beloved steam oven.

Here’s the base recipe I followed:

It’s a keeper!

– Lemon zest used instead
– A heapful more sultanas, 1 1/2 cups
– Went cray-cray with the spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, mixed spice).
– Steambaked at 160°C for roughly 35 minutes.

And the super end result. That shine.


For a first foray into the delightful world of home-made hot cross buns, I am pretty chuffed. Lovely smell throughout the house and eating them delicious and hot has justified all the kneading it needed.

One ingredient I like but am impatient when using is yeast. It gives flour that wonderful bread texture – with time. When I do get around to baking, I like to be doing something while I’m in the kitchen. For the yeast to work its magic, takes half an hour at least. EoFY deals helped to pass time. That I was in the kitchen baking, prevented a few potential impulse purchases: a Miele C3 All Rounder vacuum that was, albiet expensive, very well priced (we’re on the hunt for a vacuum, this could’ve it); and a bargain on a Peppermint Grove reed diffuser that I’d been eyeing for a while – because nice smelling things are addictive. Sniffing out a bargain is always fun.

The best thing about the buns were the top glaze and firmness of the outside bread ‘skin’ almost. The lemon will be a must-add for any future hot cross buns I make. It just goes so well with the sultanas and adds that lovely citrus-y note to the buns themselves. The texture was okay but could’ve been more stretchy and pliable. I need to rest the dough longer. I was also thinking about making chocolate centred hot cross buns. Something for next time.

All in all, these hot cross buns certainly hit the spot.

Making hot cross buns out of season, I definitely will be!

Why are vendors so hot and cold about hot cross buns?

6 thoughts on “Baking: Hot Cross Buns

  1. Pingback: Sultana Slice
    1. I getcha, it does make it more special… but I’ll melt for brioche hot cross bun any day of the week haha 😄


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