Make Gail's hot-cross buns

Hot, buttery, packed with fruits and surrounded by a crisp, ever-so-thin layer of baked syrup – the humble hot-cross bun is one of the best bits about Easter food. Fancy making your own? Try this recipe from Gail's

Gail's hot cross buns

Makes 20

Preparation time 120 mins

Cooking time 25 mins

According to our sources, the phones at Gail's have been ringing off the hook with requests to find out when its legendary hot-cross buns will be back in the bakery. We've tried them ourselves and we can say we're surprised – these buttery, fruit-packed bad boys are utterly delicious. Can't wait? Want more? Here's the recipe so you can make them yourselves at home. 


For the buns

  • 20g fresh yeast
  • 1 tbsp whole milk
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 400g plain flour
  • 0.5 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 0.5 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 200ml whole milk
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 70g soft unsalted butter (cut the cold butter into 2cm cubes and leave at room temperature for an hour before using)
  • 40g sultanas
  • 40g dry currants
  • 40g dried unsweetened cranberries
  • 70g mixed peel
  • 0.5 tsp fine sea salt

Cross Topping

  • 200g plain flour
  • 230g icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp milk


  • 300g caster sugar
  • 200g water
  • 1 whole nutmeg
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 1 whole clove
  • 0.5 vanilla pod split in half lengthwise


  1. To make the buns, melt the yeast with a tablespoon of whole milk and a teaspoon of caster sugar in a large mixing bowl. Make sure the yeast has completely dissolved and leave for 15 minutes.
  2. After 15 minutes, you should notice mini bubbles on top of your yeast liquid: that means your yeast is alive.
  3. In a separate bowl, sieve the flour with the spices.
  4. Add the spiced flour to the yeast mixture. Keep adding the rest of the milk, the sugar and egg.
  5. Begin to bind the mixture together using your hands for 4-5 minutes until it forms a rough dough, and then add the butter a chunk at a time whilst kneading the dough.
  6. After adding all the butter slowly – it should take around 2-3 minutes – you will have a nice sticky dough. Continue kneading for 5 minutes more until you get a smooth, shiny dough.
  7. Add the salt and fruits and continue kneading for 3 minutes more.
  8. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave at room temperature for 1.5 hours, until it grows to almost double in size.
  9. Pour your dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 20 pieces at 50g each. Roll the dough pieces into shape by rolling them on a surface against your palms to create smooth buns.
  10. Arrange the buns on a baking tray lined with a baking paper (all the buns onto one tray) and make sure you keep an even gap between them all. Cover the tray with a clean tea towel and leave to rise at room temperature until almost double in size.
  11. When the buns are ready (the sides of each bun should be touching and you almost shouldn’t be able see the tray) make an eggwash by whisking 1 whole egg, 1 egg yolk and a teaspoon of milk. Brush the buns carefully with this eggwash and leave to dry out for 10 minutes. Brush again.
  12. Pre heat the oven to 200°C.
  13. To make the cross topping, gently combine all the ingredients into a smooth paste using a hand whisk.
  14. Fill a plastic piping bag with the topping mixture and cut a small hole using scissors. Always cut a smaller hole than you think you might need as you can cut it again to make a bigger hole – but you can’t make a big hole smaller!
  15. Pipe thin crosses on top of the buns on the tray and pop it into the hot oven.
  16. Immediately, reduce the oven temp to 180°C until thoroughly baked and golden (around 20-22 minutes).
  17. While the buns are cooking, make the syrup. Put all the syrup ingredients in a small saucepan and over a low heat bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  18. Once the sugar has dissolved completely, increase the heat and simmer for couple of minutes until you have a syrupy consistency.
  19. Remove from the heat and fish the spices out.
  20. Once the buns are ready, take them out of the oven and carefully brush them with the hot syrup.
  21. Leave to cool for 15 minutes before serving.

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