Hot Cross Buns with a California Flair

I’ve never been to England. France, yes. But, during my year in Europe, I never hopped the channel to visit Great Britain.

I love British Literature, though. I’ve devoured books by JRR Tolkein, CS Lewis, PG Wodehouse, JK Rowling, and a host of other Brits with initials for first names. Maybe I should start going by the pen name, JG Fisher. That sounds so fancy, don’t it?

So, given my lack of true British living, I can’t say I’ve had a “real” hot cross bun. At least not how they’re made in England. I’ve read about them, though.

And perhaps my English friend Amanda will say that this recipe is too American, “too many flavors mixed up together,” as she says. Perhaps….

But, they’re still good. I figured since I didn’t know what a true hot cross bun tasted like, I could embellish it with two truly California ingredients: lemon and raisins, and pretend that this roll knows it’s not a true hot cross bun.

Amanda and I had a great discussion about the difference between raisins, sultanas, California raisins, and currants. California raisins won out, of course, because they are oh-so Californian.

Tradition says that these are best enjoyed on Good Friday. There’s even a nursery rhyme to go along with the buns:

Hot cross buns!
Hot cross buns!
One ha’ penny, two ha’ penny,
Hot cross buns!
If you have no daughters,
Give them to your sons
One ha’ penny,
Two ha’ penny,
Hot Cross Buns![1]

So you can sing the song while you bake these, and pretend that you know what you’re doing. It’s okay. I won’t tell on ya.

Are you okay with a California knock off?

Subscribe to Good Cheap Eats
Read Newer Post
Read Older Post


  1. alicia huntley says:

    If you added in candied lemon peel (or candied citron or candied orange peel) it would be just a trifle more authentic. You can also make the cross on the top with strips of dough. Also, a sugar/water wash before baking helps them to be golden brown while still moist on top.

  2. mmmmmm those look good! I have never made (or had) Hot Cross Buns before. I think I need to do something about that!

  3. I’m a ok with the CA flair! These make me think of mini raisin bread loaves lol

    🙂 Allie

  4. If you add currants you have three kinds of raisins to represent the Trinity and they are all in one bun because there is only one God….

  5. Every year I plan to make these but never have. Maybe this will be the year!

  6. I learned a couple of extra lines in that nursery rhyme: “If you have no daughters/ Give them to your sons./ But if you have none of these little elves,/ Then you must eat them all yourselves!” The recipe sounds like I’d want to do just that! 🙂 Thanks!

  7. My parents would make these 2-3 times a year. They were from Scotland. Add some candied fruit with currents and you would be spot on. She would make the kid friendly kind with 2 types of raisins as I detest the candied fruit! 🙂

    I learned that song when I was young and taught it too my children.

    Your post brought back happy memories for me….thank you.

  8. Making these for Easter again this year because they were so good last year.

Share Your Thoughts