Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

This bun is the one

  • Print

As Easter approaches, stores start stocking my favourite bun -- the sweet, fruity one marked with a white cross. As kids, we would pick off the cross first, and then devour the buns, toasted with butter and a slice of aged cheddar.

These little buns have a great history. Even before the medieval expansion of religion and ceremony into almost every part of everyday life, marking baked goods with the sign of a cross was a common thing for a baker to do. The cross was said to ward off evil spirits, which, it was believed, could make the bread go mouldy or stale, so bakers used it, and customers looked for it. An early form of marketing!

In many historically Christian countries, sweet buns are traditionally eaten hot or toasted during the season of Lent, beginning with the evening of Shrove Tuesday (the evening before Ash Wednesday) to midday Good Friday, with the cross standing as a symbol of the Crucifixion.

In the times of Elizabeth I of England (1592), there were even restrictions and laws as to when hot cross buns could be sold. They were allowed only at funerals, on Good Friday or at Christmas. The punishment for transgressing the decree was forfeiting all the forbidden product to the poor.

My recipe below is for a soft, nicely spiced, but not-too-sweet bun. Be sure to use mixed peel available at the bulk store.


Hot Cross Buns


350 ml (11/2 cups) full-fat milk

50 g (31/2 tbsp) butter

500 g (1 lb) strong bread flour

5 ml (1 tsp) salt

75 g (1/3 cup) sugar

7 g (11/2 tsp) instant yeast

1 egg, beaten

75 g (2 2/3 oz) sultanas

50 g (13/4 oz) mixed peel

zest 1 orange

1 apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped

7 ml (11/4 tsp) ground cinnamon

2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) ground nutmeg

11/4 ml (1/4 tsp) ground cardamom

11/4 ml (1/4 tsp) ground allspice

For the cross

75 g (2 2/3 oz) plain flour

For the glaze

45 ml (3 tbsp) apricot jam


1. Bring the milk to the boil, then remove from the heat and add the butter. Leave to cool until it reaches hand temperature. Put the flour, salt, sugar and yeast into a bowl. Make a well in the centre. Pour in the warm milk and butter mixture, then add the egg. Using a wooden spoon, mix well, then bring everything together with your hands until you have a sticky dough.

2. Knead for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic.

3. With the dough still in the bowl, add in the sultanas, mixed peel, orange zest, apple and spices. Knead into the dough

4. Leave to rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size, covered by some well-oiled cling film.

5. Divide the dough into 20 even pieces (about 50 g per piece). 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.

6. Cover (but don't wrap) with more oiled cling film, or a clean tea towel, then set aside to prove for 1 hr more.

7. Heat oven to 180 C (350 F).

8. Mix the flour with about 75 ml (5 tbsp) water to make the paste for the cross -- add the water 15 ml (1 tbsp) at a time, so you add just enough for a thick paste. Spoon into a piping bag with a small nozzle. Pipe crosses.

9. Bake for 20 minutes on the middle shelf of the oven, until golden brown.

10. Gently heat the apricot jam to melt, then sieve to get rid of any chunks. While the jam is still warm, brush over the top of the warm buns and leave to cool.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 12, 2014 D16

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


I Dream of Diesel at Rachel Brown Theatre scene preview

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Peregrine Falcon Recovery Project. Baby peregrine falcons. 21 days old. Three baby falcons. Born on ledge on roof of Radisson hotel on Portage Avenue. Project Coordinator Tracy Maconachie said that these are third generation falcons to call the hotel home. Maconachie banded the legs of the birds for future identification as seen on this adult bird swooping just metres above. June 16, 2004.
  • A goose flys defensively to protect their young Wednesday near Kenaston Blvd and Waverley -See Bryksa 30 Day goose challenge- Day 16 - May 23, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos


Do you think the Jets will win Game 4 on Wednesday?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google