Sarah Barber's Hot Cross Bun Recipe

"Good Friday comes this month, the old woman runs. With one or two a penny hot cross buns!"

Poor Robin's Almanack, 1733

Hot cross buns: a British staple food around Easter. A sweet bake with raisins or currants best enjoyed with a layer of butter melting slowly into the bun. But where did they come from and why do we eat them around Easter time? 

In Catholic countries buns and breads short of dried fruits or dairy produce were eaten during lent from Shrove Tuesday to Good Friday. In celebration of the end of lent, dried fruits, currants or raisins; alongside sugar and spices; were added to home baked buns. The cross atop the bun may be explained by the bake's roots in Christian communities, representative of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Hot cross buns were baked as early as the 18th century in London and many traditions and folklore accompany the story of this British favourite; from hanging a hot cross bun in the kitchen to protect against fires and ensure breads turn out perfectly; to taking them on sea voyages to safeguard the crew against shipwreck.

Our Executive Pastry Chef Sarah Barber shares her very own recipe for hot cross buns, served in The Café, here for you to recreate at home. Happy baking! 


Makes 16 hot cross buns. 

  • 300g milk
  • 50g butter
  • 500g T55 strong flour
  • 10g salt
  • 75g sugar
  • 20g vegetable oil
  • 10g yeast
  • 1 egg
  • 75g sultanas
  • 50g mixed peel
  • 10g orange peel
  • 1 grated apple
  • 10g cinnamon
  • flour and water for the cross
  • sugar and water for the glaze
  • Mix all ingredients apart from the fruit together in a bowl with the hook tool of a food mixer at the highest speed setting for five minutes followed by a couple of minutes at medium speed until the dough easily comes off the mixing bowl. 
  • Add the fruit and mix into the dough and leave in the fridge overnight. 
  • Divide dough into 16 portions  or about 25 grams each and place the portions of dough on a baking tray covered with grease proof baking paper. Leave space for expansion. Cover with oiled cling film or a clean tea towel and leave to prove for 30 - 40 minutes. 
  • Once proved mix equal quantities of flour and water together and place in a piping bag. Carefully pipe a cross over each bun.
  • Bake at 180 degrees for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown.   
  • Once baked, mix 200g sugar with 100g water and bring to the boil. Use hot to glaze buns and leave to cool. 


Chef's tip: We add fresh apple to keep the buns moist and glaze with sugar syrup to make the hot cross buns shiny!


About Sarah Barber

                                            Sarah joined Hotel Café Royal in January 2016 as Executive Pastry Chef following a number of posts in some of London's finest pastry kitchens. Sarah's grandfather and mentor was once Head Chef at Café Royal; before the reopening as a grand luxury hotel; and her inspiration and one of the reasons she is proud to head up the pastry kitchen of this London landmark and manage a team of 17 pastry chefs and bakers.

In addition to creating the desserts, afternoon tea and in room amenities for Hotel Café Royal, Sarah opened the dessert restaurant at The Café fronting Regent Street in March 2016, the first of its kind in London. Guests are invited on a sweet journey of dessert tasting menus. Furthermore, Sarah's cakes, pastries, chocolate and gifts are available to eat in or takeaway at The Café. 

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