I honestly can’t remember the last time I made a hot cross bun. I think it may even have been during my days at catering college some forty odd years ago, so I was really looking forward to baking a batch this week to enjoy a heavenly easter treat over the weekend with family and friends.

The truth is I’d forgotten how easy they are to make, and how delicious they are when freshly baked and enjoyed straight from the oven. It’s one of those recipes that doesn’t really take up too much of your active time as you can get a lot of other things done while the dough is proving, plus you can make a large batch and pop them in the freezer to enjoy later.

Apparently, hot cross buns were invented by the Christians in ancient Rome and the reason they are sold during Easter is because Christians associate crosses with the crucifixion of Jesus on Good Friday and the cross on top of the bun is used to symbolise this link. There are many superstitious beliefs surrounding these buns, such as protecting us from shipwrecks and fires. It is also believed that if you split a hot cross bun with a friend then the friendship will endure throughout the following year.

Here in Spain, fiestas and religious festivals have traditionally been associated with an assortment of pastries, sweets, cakes, and biscuits. Some are flavoured with almonds' pine nuts, honey, cinnamon, and orange blossom water reflecting their Arab, Moorish roots, while others are doughnut style pastries fried in oil such as roscos, buñuelos and the extremely popular churros, which are served with hot chocolate for dunking.

Among the other specialities to look out for when travelling through Spain during “Pascuas” include sweet dishes such as “Rosquillas de Semana Santa” along with traditional fried pastries called "Rubiols", “Pestiños”, flavoured with anise and sweet wine and savoury "Empanadas", a type of pasty or pie filled with lamb and vegetables.



550g flour, plus extra for dusting

80g sugar

1 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 lemon, finely grated zest only

1tsp salt

10g dried yeast

60g butter

300ml milk

1 free-range egg, beaten

200g sultanas

50g finely chopped mixed peel

1tbsp sunflower oil

For the cross:

75g plain flour

2 tbsp golden syrup, for glazing

1. Heat the milk in a saucepan and the butter to melt. Remove from the heat.

2. Put the flour, sugar, salt, spices, yeast and lemon zest into a large bowl and mix together. Make a well in the centre. Pour in the warm milk and butter mixture, then add 1 beaten egg. Using a wooden spoon, mix well, then bring everything together with your hands until you have a sticky dough.

3. Tip the dough out on to a lightly floured work surface. Knead by hand incorporating the sultanas and mixed peel into the dough. Lightly knead for 5 to 6 minutes until silky and elastic and forming a smooth ball.

4. Pace the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rest in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.

5. Turn the risen dough out on to a lightly floured surface. Knock back and knead for a further 5 minutes. Return to the bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place to rise for a further hour, or until doubled in size once more.

Related news

6. Turn the dough out again on to a floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a smooth ball on a lightly floured work surface. Arrange the buns on one or two baking trays lined with parchment, leaving enough space for the dough to expand. Cover with a clean tea towel, then set aside to prove for 1 hour more.

7. Preheat the oven to 200C.

8. For the topping, place the flour in a bowl with 100ml of water. Mix together to make a thick paste and spoon into an icing bag with a small nozzle. Pipe a line along each row of buns, then repeat in the other direction to create crosses. Bake for 18-20 minutes on the middle shelf of the oven, until golden brown.

9. Melt the golden syrup in a pan and while the buns are still warm, brush the buns with a little syrup to give a nice shine, before setting aside to cool on a wire rack.



3 eggs
100ml milk
150g sugar
100ml olive oil
grated zest of one lemon
1 teaspoon baking powder
300 gr. flour
Sugar and cinnamon for dusting

1. Separate the eggs and beat the egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the lemon zest.

2. Beat the egg whites until thick and add to the eggs and sugar.

3. Mix carefully and add the baking powder & flour. Blend until the mixture is soft.

4. Cover and leave to rest for one hour. Heat oil in a pan and shape the mixture into small doughnuts (6 cm more or less) and fry until golden brown on both sides.

5. Remove from oil and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.


Ingredients: serves 6

500g sweet potatoes (cooked in their skins)

150g flour

1 egg

2 egg yolks

50 icing sugar

Pinch of ground cinnamon

Apricot and vanilla sauce:

200ml water

100g sugar

500g fresh apricots

1 vanilla pod(split)

1. To make the bunuelos, carefully, peel the sweet potatoes and place them in a large bowl. Work them to a puree with a wooden spoon and add the egg and egg yolks. Add the flour and sugar; beat well until the mixture forms a smooth dough.

2. To make the apricot and vanilla sauce, place all the ingredients over a gentle flame and simmer for 20 minutes. Pass through a fine sieve and refrigerate until required.

3. Heat enough oil to cover the bunuelos. Using two spoons dipped in hot water, form balls of dough and drop them carefully into the hot oil. Cook until golden brown, remove and drain them on absorbent paper.

4. Sprinkle with a little caster sugar and serve warm with the chilled apricot and vanilla sauce.

*The sweet potatoes are best cooked the day before to allow them to dry out a little over night.