How to make the best hot cross buns

Hot cross buns in a basket with white cloth


Posted March 29, 2023

Make hot cross buns at home with this deliciously easy recipe from Le Petit Gâteau. 

Is it even Easter if you don't devour close to your own weight in hot cross buns? Whether you're a traditional fruit-filled bun lover or prefer yours choc'd and loaded, there's nothing quite like a toasty, gently spiced baked treat, slathered in butter, to evoke the warm fuzzy feeling of Easter celebrations with family and friends.

Origin of this Easter treat

The hot cross bun is believed to date back to ancient civilisations, including the Saxons, who ate buns marked with a cross in honour of Eostre, the goddess of spring and namesake of Easter. However, the modern recipe we recognise today is attributed to a 14th-century monk, Brother Thomas Rodcliffe of St Albans Abbey, who mixed cinnamon into his yeast buns and delivered them to the poor on Good Friday. 

The so-called Alban buns quickly grew in popularity around England and became closely associated with Easter. By the 16th century, they were considered so holy that Queen Elizabeth passed a law permitting them to be sold only at Easter, Christmas and burials. 

These days, of course, hot cross buns begin appearing in supermarkets as early as January and linger long after the last chocolate eggs have been eaten.

Big appetite for gourmet buns

Easter is one of the busiest times of the year for high-end patisserie Le Petit Gateau in Melbourne’s CBD. From mid-March to the day before Good Friday, the Executive Pastry Chef Amit Sinha and his team bake thousands of hot cross buns.

Le Petit Gateau’s traditional buns contain raisins, candied orange, nutmeg and cinnamon, while high-quality Swiss chocolate is used for their chocolate chip buns.

If you’re up for the challenge, you can try Le Petit Gâteau’s hot cross bun recipe at home. Watch the video and follow the recipe below on how to make the best buns.

Hot tips for making the best hot cross buns

Sinha says proving is the key to a soft, light bun. Proving is the final rise of the dough when the fermentation of the yeast creates that airy texture. “If you don’t prove the dough enough, the buns will be dense,” Amit says. “You want them to be light and airy, with a very soft texture.”

Amit says it can be harder to get the same result at home because a commercial kitchen has the right conditions for proofing dough, but he has a couple of tips.

  • First, use baker’s flour rather than regular flour. It has more gluten and gives the dough its elasticity.
  • Secondly, weigh the ingredients. The volume of flour or sugar per cup can vary between brands.

If all else fails, visit Le Petit Gateau in Little Collins St, in the heart of Melbourne, for the real deal.

Le Petit Gateau’s hot cross buns recipe



Time to make

2.5 hours





  1. 615 g (5½ cups) baker’s flour
  2. 65 g (½ cup) sugar
  3. 8 g (2 tsp) cinnamon
  4. 4 g (1 tsp) nutmeg
  5. 13 g (2¼ tsp) salt
  6. 26 g (1½ tbsp) dry yeast
  7. 315 ml water
  8. 200 g (1 cup) diced mixed dried fruit*
  9. 50 ml vegetable oil, to oil bowl

Cross mixture

  • 110 g (1 cup) baker’s flour
  • 50 ml water


  • 50 g (¼ cup) caster sugar
  • 50 ml water


  1. Combine flour, sugar, spices and salt in a large bowl. Mix together. Add yeast to water and mix together with a whisk. Pour yeast and water mix into bowl. Use a wooden spoon to mix until dough almost comes together. Use clean hands to finish mixing in the bowl to form a soft dough.
  2. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead for 10 minutes, or until dough is smooth. Add either the fruit or the chocolate chips to the dough and knead until combined. Place into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 1 to 1.5 hours, or until dough doubles in size.
  3. Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Punch dough down to its original size. Knead for 30 seconds on a lightly floured surface until smooth.
  4. Divide into 25 even portions (65 grams each). Shape each portion into a ball. Place balls onto lined tray, about 1 centimetre apart. Cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 30 minutes, or until buns double in size. Preheat oven to 190°C or 170˚C fan-force.
    Make the cross mixture: Mix flour and water together in a small bowl to make a smooth paste, adding a little more water if paste is too thick. Spoon into a small snap-lock bag. Snip off a corner of the bag. Pipe flour paste over tops of buns to form crosses.
  5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until buns are cooked through.
  6. Make glaze: Place water and sugar into a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil. Boil for 1 minute. Brush warm glaze over warm hot cross buns. Serve warm or at room temperature.


  • If you don’t like mixed dried fruit, you can substitute for 200 grams sultanas or 150 grams chocolate chips.
  • The volume of flour or sugar per cup can vary by brand, quality and even room temperature. Where possible, RACV pastry chefs use weight measurements instead of cup and spoon conversions will provide much more accurate cooking results. 

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