Best hot cross buns recipe

Hot cross buns in a basket with white cloth


Posted February 21, 2024

Make the best hot cross buns at home with this deliciously easy recipe and how-to video from one of Melbourne's top patisseries, 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 loaded with chocolate, there's nothing quite like a toasty, gently spiced baked treat, slathered in butter, for making the most of time-honoured traditions with family and friends.

History of hot cross buns

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 I 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.

Why are hot cross buns so popular?

Easter is one of the busiest times of the year for high-end patisserie Le Petit Gâteau in Melbourne’s CBD. In the weeks leading up to Good Friday, the pastry chefs bake thousands of hot cross buns. 

As the weather cools in autumn, it's the perfect time for comfort food, and a lightly toasted hot cross bun with melted butter ticks all the boxes

Le Petit Gâteau’s traditional buns contain raisins, candied orange, nutmeg and cinnamon, while high-quality Swiss chocolate is used for the 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 how-to video and follow the recipe on how to make the best buns.

Pro tips for perfect hot cross buns

Executive Pastry Chef Amit Sinha, who oversees Le Petit Gâteau, 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.

  • Use baker’s flour rather than regular flour. It has more gluten and gives the dough its elasticity.
  • If you don’t like mixed dried fruit, you can substitute for 200g sultanas or 150g chocolate chips.
  • The volume of flour or sugar per cup can vary by brand. The quality of the flour and even the room temperature can also affect the volume. Where possible, RACV pastry chefs use weight measurements instead of cup and spoon conversions to get more accurate cooking results. Both types of measurement are provided in the recipe.

Le Petit Gâteau’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. In a separate bowl, add yeast to water and mix together with a whisk. Pour yeast and water mix into large 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 a clean tea towel or plastic wrap and 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 30 even portions (65 grams each). Shape each portion into a ball. Place balls onto lined tray, about 1 cm apart. Cover with a clean tea towel or 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until buns are cooked through.
  7. 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.


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