Hot cross buns are an Easter tradition in Ireland. There’s even a schoolyard rhyme about them!
Good Friday (the Friday immediately preceding Easter Sunday and the day upon which Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Christ) is a day of fast and abstinence for Catholics. This means that people consume smaller meals for the day, avoid eating between meals and also refrain from eating any meat.
On Good Friday in the past, a typical Irish Catholic family would eat plain porridge for breakfast, a light lunch and then have hot cross buns for tea, with the cross on the hot cross buns reflecting the cross upon which Christ was crucified.
These days in Ireland, hot cross buns are eaten throughout Lent (the period of preparation for Easter observed by Catholics and other Christians throughout the world) but they remain an especially important part of Good Friday.
Hot cross buns are wonderful when freshly baked. We also love them split, toasted and slathered with butter.
Traditional Irish Hot Cross Buns
- 500g strong white flour
- 10g instant yeast
- 75g caster sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 75g soft butter
- 250 ml warm milk
- 1 egg
- 150g sultanas/raisins
- 75g currants
- 50g candied peel
- 30g plain flour
- 35g cold water
- 25g sugar
- 25g hot water
Paste for piping crosses:
- Place all the ingredients EXCEPT the dried fruit into the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a dough hook. Mix on a low speed for 5-10 minutes until you have a soft, sticky dough. The dough will be very soft and more like a thick batter than a firm dough. This is perfect!
- Add the sultanas, currants and candied peel to the bowl and mix again with the dough hook for 2/3 minutes.
- Transfer the dough to a lidded container and cover. Then leave to rise, at room temperature, for about 2 hours until the dough has approximately doubled in size and puffed up nicely.
- Remove the dough from the container onto a work surface. Take 50g pieces of dough and roll them into balls. Place these balls, spaced slightly apart on a baking sheet. Leave to rise for about an hour, until the buns look puffed up and bouncy.
- Preheat your oven to 220C.
- Mix the flour and cold water to make a slack paste. Transfer into a piping bag or squeezy bottle and pipe crosses across all the buns.
- When the temperature has reached 220C, place the buns into the oven for 5 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 180C and bake for a futher 10 minutes.
- Mix the hot water and sugar together in a small cup. Keep stirring until all the sugar has dissolved. Then, using a pastry brush, brush this sugar glaze all across the hot cross buns. Return the buns to the over for 1 minute to set the glaze.
- Remove the hot cross buns from the over and place on a cooling rack. Eat the buns hot or at room temperature or sliced, toasted and slathered with butter!
If you’re not a fan of candied peel, replace it with extra sultanas, raisins or currants and add the zest of a lemon and an orange to give a little citrus kick to the buns.
Use COLD water to make the flour/water paste so that the paste doesn’t get too glue-y and difficult to work with.
Stir the sugar glaze until the sugar has completely dissolved to prevent the sugar crystallising on the buns.