Dedicated to Hot Cross Buns


I think that making hot cross buns would be nice. An Easter thing to do. I am a bit short of Easter traditions, apart from the obvious chocolate eggs. Apparently other people make Easter trees out of sticks and things but I am late to the party and out of twigs. Hot Cross buns would fill the kitchen with the gorgeous smell of baking. I imagine a future in which my son tells people; “My Mother used to make the most delicious hot cross buns at Easter”. That, in my eyes, is a validation of good parenting.

I love hot cross buns. Tradition says they are eaten on Good Friday. The supermarkets prepare for good Friday in January, keen to spin out a tradition to suit sales. Baked in store and on special offer. I am a sucker for a special offer.

Each week I buy packet after packet. I eat them for breakfast, for afternoon tea. Sometimes in the evening with a hot chocolate. They make a good pudding. A quick-lunch. Food for every occasion. In my world.

The sticky sweetness and the big fat bits of fruit. The child of a tea cake. Softer and smaller. The weird cousin of Hot Cross buns is M&S chocolate ones. I spend a long time wondering if they might be nice. I am not sure, and I am a big chocolate fan. I even go to look at them. The perfect hot cross bun should be lightly toasted and covered in loads of “slutty” butter. Chocolate hot cross buns are slutty without the butter. Chocolate and butter is too gratuitous. I leave without purchasing. At Waitrose Heston puts Earl Grey and mandarin in his. The bun equivalent of a smelly aged Uncle. Sorry Heston, rejected.

I am a traditional soul. Happy with my fruited buns. Happy to spend time emptying charred bits of fruit from the bottom of the toaster because it has shorted. The side effects of hot cross bun consumption.

Next week they will be ‘over’ for another year. Still there but on a low shelf, packets of 6, less the special offers.

Nigella has a recipe (of course she has). Nigella makes her own. Whilst licking her lips. It requires a list of ingredients I don’t have and proving over night. Bloody hell Nigella! I tot up the cost and compare it to the two packets for a £1 and buy four packets. At home I drop the shopping bags on the floor, flick on the kettle and straight into the toaster with a bun. Three minutes effort.

In the future I imagine my son telling people; “My mum and me used to cosy on the sofa and share hot cross buns”. That makes for a nice memory. I love hot cross buns.

Happy Easter.

Hot cross buns homemade or shop? Hot cross bun’s weird family?


  1. Ali

    Oh such a gorgeous post and happy memories will be created. We are the same and have Hot cross buns as soon as they are available. I just enjoy the smell as can’t eat the gluten 🙁

    We ran out of them the other day so Oscar had toast, with a little butter, cinnamon and sultanas sprinkled on it. Apparently it was ‘pretty good’ maybe I will try that this afternoon with tea!!!

    I did watch Paul and Mary make them on Tuesday, they made it look so easy but I not buying that…..One day I will make them, as for the chocolate ones, tempting but so wrong!!!

    Happy Easter – Ali x

  2. jfb57

    Hot cross buns are the one Easter tradition I insist on (even though I have my Flog going & I will need to fess up to it!) when I was a HT though, I used to have a beautiful oak desk outside my office that would hold flowers or some sort of display and I did have all the bits & bobs to put on twigs for an Easter tree. I miss those things 😉

  3. Mayfair Mum

    Lovely post. Feel just the same way about them Gemma! I picked up a couple of packs at Sainsburys yesterday and with an “end of term” tired and not very hungry little one on our hands, we popped a pack under the grill, toasted and buttered them and piled a large plate high with them before enjoying for a family tea! The perfect way to start our Easter break and a memory I hope Little Chap will treasure too.

  4. Erica Price

    We did homemade this morning for the first time ever. I’m not so keen on the supermarket ones as they don’t measure up to the ones from my childhood memories, hence the ‘need’ to make our own today. It was worth it, but we do a lot of breadmaking, etc. so had stuff in. Bit of an effort if you have to go out & buy special stuff.

  5. Jennyj

    I love hot cross buns, from the moment they’re in store I’m lurking around looking for the slightly underdone still warm ones, ready to pounce and generally without a care for anyone in the vicinity. On Tuesday I fell upon the posh(er) ones, reduced to clear in Sainsburys and filled the freezer with the little gems of bejewelled sweetness. However, I am more of the untoasted but with lashing of butter brigade – or indeed making them into hot cross bun and butter pudding. Or, for all out, solve all ills treats, hot cross buns with butter and golden syrup. *drools*

  6. Molly

    Best. Post. Ever. Bar none. Simple, beautifully written, funny, nostalgic, picture-painting. You’re SUCH a good writer you know? Anyway, how about me, you and Jane all get together for hot cross buns and… wine?

  7. kateab65

    I actually made two batches from Paul Hollywood’s recipe. I actually had nearly everything in the house but maybe that’s just me, I bake a lot. Nigella likes to complicate things sometimes so I did NOT use her recipe. The first batch wasn’t great but I did rush them a bit so made some changes and did them today. I started at 1.45 and they were done by 6.30 – yes, that sounds like a long time but there was 15-20 mins effort weighing and mixing, then left to prove whilst I did other stuff, then I had 10-15 mins splitting up and rolling out, then left again, then 5 mins piping the crosses and two mins at the end glazing the finished articles.

  8. anyaharris

    Oh Gemma, I am with you. All. The. Way. I feel so much better for reading this after stuffing myself with them for the last fortnight. You’re exactly right – they’re perfect at any time of day. Particularly breakfast. I have developed a second chin but I’ve been happy doing it! They’re such a comfort and I love that expression – slutty butter. Might have to get another packet in your honour and the only thing stopping the will to live if we made them, would be to have a packet on stand by just to keep us going, yes?

  9. Funky Wellies

    I like baking but I like quick and easy too. No hot cross buns in Germany but luckily kind UK friend sometimes sends a package with them and crumpets too!
    You photo is just perfect… Hot cross bun AND Barbazoo!! xx

  10. Firefly Phil

    [shakes head] Oh, Gemma… You are so funny and yet you make me well up at the same time… I think it’s cause you are so candid in the way you say things…
    Tell you what: Let the shops make hot cross buns. Then you can make lemon cake. Deal…?

  11. Emma

    I am sure he will you know… Anyway, I only make my own because we can’t get them here. They do them so well at home, that I don’t think there’s much point to be honest! 🙂

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