Hot Cross Buns
(With a Twist)

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Hot Cross Buns in a magazine or in multiple online sources and wanted to make them myself.

This is one of those recipes I’ve long-admired but for one reason or another, just never got around to making.

That changed a few weeks ago when my mom came to visit me for a few days.

Nana Banana (as she likes to be called) brought along one of her favorite recipes for these popular buns and we spent an afternoon whipping them up together.

hot cross buns closeup

Hot Cross Buns
Author: Adapted from King Arthur Flour
  • BUNS
  • 1/4 cup rum or apple juice
  • 1/2 cup mixed dried fruit
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 1/4 cups milk (room temperature
  • 3 large eggs 1 separated
  • 6 tablespoons butter room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/4 cu ligh brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg white reserved from above
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 teaspoons milk or enough to make thick, pipeable icing
  1. Lightly grease a 10" square pan or 9" X 13" pan.
  2. Mix the rum or apple juice with the dried fruit and raisins, cover with plastic wrap and microwave briefly until the fruit and liquid are war.
  3. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
  4. When the fruit is cool, mix together all the dough ingredients except the fruit and knead, using an electric mixer or bread machine until the dough is soft and elastic.
  5. Mix in the fruit and any liquid not absorbed.
  6. Let the dough rise for 1 hour, covered. It will be puffy but may not necessarily double in bulk.
  7. Divide the dough into billiard, ball-sized pieces. Use your greased hands to round the dough into balls and arrange them in the prepared, greased pan.
  8. Cover the pan and let ht buns rise for 1 hour or until they've puffed up and are touching one another.
  9. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375 (F) degrees.
  10. Whisk together the reserved egg white and milk and brush it over the buns.
  11. Bake the buns for 20 minutes until they are golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a baking rack.
  12. Mix together the icing ingredients and when bus are cool, pipe the icing in a cross shape atop each bun.

hot cross buns dough

I love sharing the kitchen with my mom because she enjoys baking as much as I do.

While my primary motivation is typically tied to practicing my food photography, it’s always fun to bake up something different with mom.

These days, Nana Banana marvels a bit at my culinary interest, especially considering I never gravitated toward any kind of cooking or baking as a child.

My parents actually encouraged me to cook when I was little (to no avail) and I have a funny story to share about that.

hot cross buns dough balls

When I was growing up my parents instituted an official “cook night” for me, my twin sister and older brother.

The idea behind cook night was to provide an opportunity for all of us to learn how to prepare meals for the family and hopefully develop valuable cooking skills that we could use later in life.

The rule was simple… one designated night a week, each child was responsible for the meal, and the menu was entirely up to the cook.

There were no limits, restrictions or requirements of any kind.

hot cross buns dozen

My brother and sister embraced cook night with gusto and regularly prepared wonderfully daring and delicious meals on their assigned night.

They both stepped outside their comfort zone to tackle new ingredients and blend unusual flavors to come up with memorable dishes that we all enjoyed.

I was definitely impressed with my brother and sister’s weekly offerings.

Despite being enamored with what my siblings were creating,  I decided to take a slightly different approach to my cook night responsibility.

hot cross buns on a plate

It just so happened that Friday was also the day that my mom went grocery shopping for the week.

So, every Friday I would go to the store with her and add my own special ingredients to her grocery cart.

I would pick out the freshest sandwich rolls, a selection of deli hams and sliced turkey, lettuce, tomato and the occasional jar of pickles among other things.

Can you guess where I’m going with this?

When we got home from the store, I would lay everything out beautifully on a platter with everything meticulously arranged and “styled”.

Then, I would ring the dinner bell for my weekly and unwavering submarine sandwiches.

On Fridays, my family knew all too well what the meal would be.

baked hot cross buns

Every Friday, for about 5-6 years, my family and I had sub-sandwiches for dinner (delicious, beautifully styled sub-sandwiches… but sub-sandwiches nonetheless).

It also became a bit of a running joke over time too.

It wasn’t until years later, that my parents commented on what great cooks my brother and sister turned out to be while at the same time observing the deficiencies in my unimaginative culinary skills.

We all knew the reason why.

Meantime, while I haven’t quite caught up yet with the uber-extraordinary cooking skills of my siblings, I can at least boast that I can best them in the submarine sandwich department (as well as food photos).

Hey, I had years of practice.

 Thanks for stopping by.

See  you back here next time. 



  • [email protected] Designs

    I am sure that they were the most beautiful sub-sandwiches ever!….I think that is a great idea that your parents had!….When I was in high school, my mom went back to work…it was my sister’s and my responsibility to cook dinner…lots of times my mom would have the main course prepared and ready to go into the oven…so we did the side dishes…it turned out after a couple of years, that my sister said she would rather cook and I would clean the house!…I agreed! Had to vacuum the house every day (with 5 kids you had to) and pick up, etc. and of course I would do some re-arranging too!

  • Jennifer

    I must confess that I’ve never eaten a Hot Cross bun. I’m not real nuts about fruit inside bread and I loathe raisins. But I do love a pastry that has rum so maybe I should try a bite sometime.

    Love the story about your childhood “cooking” night. That’s a great practice your parents instilled. I just have one child who had no interest in cooking until last year when he turned 13. He really enjoys it and I can rely on him to make dinner for us at least once a week–sometimes two to three if I get lucky. It’s such a luxury to have someone else make the meal!

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Thanks, Jennifer.
      Isn’t it great when kids learn to cook?
      Despite my own youthful reluctance, I have tried to instill this practice in my two kids (with mixed results).
      My daughter is a good cook but my son (like me at his age) has yet to really fully embrace dinner night assignments-lol.
      Happy to hear your son has taken to it.
      Happy Easter to you.

  • Suzanne Kuhns

    those buns look yummy. They were a staple in our house during Lent but were always store-bought. I can’t cook – it’s a family joke. When we have a family get together that everyone brings something, I get the bread and raw veggie plate. My son, thru desperation, became a very good cook. However, I can bake and really enjoy that.

  • Sherry

    My mom just turned 87 and some of my best memories of growing up were spent in the kitchen with my mother. She is still a great cook! Just wish I had beautiful photos of her culinary art! Yours is gorgeous! I could almost smell the aroma!!! Thank you for sharing!

  • Elaine Tutman

    Lisa – thanks for the memories. You and your siblings were such creative kids. You all turned out to be pretty special adults, too. It was fun making the buns. Let’s do some more baking together soon.
    Love, Nana Banana

  • Jennifer Reidy

    I just LOVE reading your blog posts 🙂 Your photography and writing is a breath of fresh air from the rest of the online world! Timeless and perfect! So glad I found you!

  • dana

    I love this story! I have a 2 yr old and he enjoys helping in the kitchen already. I look forward to the day when he cooks dinner….still waiting on his daddy too. Ha! 🙂 Thanks for sharing. These hot cross buns look fabulous. Happy Easter! (and Passover and Spring) xoxo

  • Marisa Franca @ All Our Way

    How great that you were able to cook with your mamma. Those are my most treasured moments. I’ve never made these buns — I’ll have to put that on my bucket list. Have a great week. Big hugs!

  • Laura at dukemanor farm

    Ha. I love that idea and your story. I did not know you were a twin. So am I. !

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