Hot Cross Buns with Lemon Rosemary & White Chocolate

I am off to spend the rest of the school holidays in Cornwall, which involves eating lots of hot cross buns, Cornish saffron buns, very good ice cream and as much treacle tart and clotted cream as possible. I love this time of year. Flowers, fruits and vegetables budding, growing and flourishing. Everything is awesome! Cornish purple sprouting broccoli, creamy potatoes and excellent spring lamb will no doubt be present at Easter Sunday lunch.

lemon rosemary

I have made several batches of hot cross buns over the last couple of years with varying success. My Giant Hot Cross Bun worked well but I have made many buns where the dough has simply not risen, just sat in a flat lump in a bowl for hours. It is all down to the milk temperature. I either overheat or under heat it but I think I might have found a solution.

lemon rosemary

Instead of bringing the milk up to boiling point and melting the butter in it, I warm the milk up in the microwave for thirty seconds and it is perfect every time. For me, this method works and I am sticking with it. The butter, I rub into the flour as you would for making pastry. I read about that idea  here, a fine discovery.

lemon rosemary

My other tip would be to use less flour. I found I had been making a huge batch of dough, buns too large to eat and taking too long to cook so I decided to cut back on quantities and it seems to work. I use 250g of bread flour and this gives me eight small yet beautifully formed buns that cook in fifteen minutes.

lemon rosemary

Finally I have played with the flavours. Lemon and fresh Rosemary instead of the spices and white chocolate chips replace half of the dried mixed fruit. Is this still a hot cross bun? In my mind it is. Yet it is a fresher, herbier more spring like interpretation. I hope you agree. And they have crosses. Could not forego the crosses.

I am entering my Easter buns into a few challenges this month:

lemon rosemary


lemon rosemary

Treat PetiteThe Baking Explorer & Cakeboi

We Should CocoaRachel Cotterill & Chocolate Log Blog

Love CakeJibber Jabber

Let’s Cook Sweet Treats for EasterSimply Food

Hot Cross Buns with Lemon Rosemary & White Chocolate
Serves 8
A twist on the classic Hot Cross Bun.
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Prep Time
1 hr 15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Prep Time
1 hr 15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
  1. -250g strong white flour,
  2. -1tsp fast action yeast,
  3. -25g unsalted butter,
  4. -Pinch of salt,
  5. -25g caster sugar,
  6. -Zest of 1 lemon,
  7. -1tbsp freshly chopped Rosemary,
  8. -50g mixed dried fruit,
  9. -50g white chocolate chips,
  10. -100ml whole milk,
  11. -2 medium eggs (One egg for the hot cross buns and one egg for glazing the buns).
  12. For the Crosses:)
  13. -3tbsp flour
  14. -3or4tbsp water
  15. Mix the two together to form a thick paste which will be used to make the crosses on the buns.
  16. For the sugar glaze:)
  17. 1tbsp caster sugar,
  18. 1tbsp hot water,
  19. Mix the two together and glaze the buns with the sugary mixture as soon as they come out of the oven.
  1. 1. Weigh the flour,salt, yeast, sugar and butter into a mixing bowl,
  2. 2. Using your fingertips rub the flour and the butter together until the mixture forms breadcrumbs,
  3. 3. Warm the milk in the microwave for 30 seconds until it is warm but not hot then whisk in the egg,
  4. 4. Add the lemon zest, dried fruit, chocolate chips and Rosemary to the flour mixture then make a well in the centre and pour in the milk and egg mix,
  5. 5. Stir the mixture together using a fork until it comes together into a wet and sticky ball of dough,
  6. 6. Cover the dough with a tea towel and leave it to rest for 10 minutes,
  7. 7. After 10 minutes, roll the dough into a long sausage shape then divide this up into 8 equal sized balls of dough,
  8. 8. Shape the dough into a bun until it is smooth then place onto the lined baking tray and continue to make the the rest of the buns, placing them all on the same tray fairly close together,
  9. 9. Cover the buns with a tea towel and leave them to prove for 1 hour,
  10. 10. After an hour, pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees and brush the buns with a beaten egg then pipe on the flour & water mixture using a piping bag to form the crosses,
  11. 11. Bake the buns in the oven for 15 minutes then glaze with the sugar & water mix and leave to cool on a wire rack.
  1. The buns are best eaten on the day they are made but they can be toasted the following day or frozen for a later date.
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  1. Goodness what a fabulous and unusual combination. Sounds sweet, sticky, tangy and I bet that rosemary smells fabulous! X

  2. I really like this fresh take on hot cross buns. I’m a sucker for herbs in ostensibly sweet recipes, esp rosemary. I have made hot cross buns a couple of times in the past (when my daughter was young) but I was always trying too hard to be virtuous with them, so they were a bit ‘worthy’ in taste and texture. Your recipe sounds really delicious, and so nicely photographed too. Enjoy your Easter break – and all of those tasty Cornish treats!

    • Thanks Kellie, yes there are times when recipes can be made more virtuous but somehow buns don’t lend themselves to it. Although these aren’t too bad on the sugar front I am not sure how nice they would taste without any. Maybe worth a go though, you never know!

  3. Those look divine Laura. I’ve never tried making them before, maybe I should give them a go, homemade must taste amazing.

  4. Delicious, Laura. I like your tip about warming milk in the microwave. The flavours sound delicious and really interesting!

    • Thanks Charlotte, I do like these flavours together but am sure there are other combinations that would be good too like orange and date maybe? I just like experimenting!

  5. Lovely your Cornish foodie hit list and the fact that the crosses on your perfect buns look so perfect, too. This is the bit I struggle with the most! 

  6. Now there’s an interesting combination of flavours in a hot cross bun… going to need to try it soon! Have a great time in Cornwall – it sounds like you have the menu all sorted out already.

  7. Lovely – I could eat one of those right now! Rosemary is a great addition to these buns.

  8. With all the many recipes available for such an Easter classic these look absolutely top notch and thank you for all the helpful tips, I struggle with the milk temperature. Have a brilliant time in Cornwall! 

  9. Lemon and rosemary sound so fresh and spring like somehow. And if they have a cross on them OF COURSE they are hot cross buns. Can’t believe another year has gone by and you are down here again. Would so love to meet up with you, but as usual I have a mega busy week this week and I expect you’ve got far better things to do on holiday than talk cooking and blogs with me. BUT one day …

    Hope you have a brilliant holiday and the sun keeps shining for you.

  10. Forgot to say, thanks for entering these into WSC :)

  11. Wow what a delicious sounding combination laura. I think my boys would prefer these to the traditional sort as they’re not fans of dried fruit. Thanks for all those useful baking tips too!

  12. what a lovely flavour combination. a great idea Laura, I love rosemary and I can imagine this goes really well with the lemon. What a lovely scent.

  13. The buns look amazing and I do like the sound of your Cornish scoffing.

  14. What a lovely, fresh twist on a tradtional hot cross bun. Thanks for linking up with this month’s Love Cake.


  1. […] this week so why not try some lemon hot cross buns and maybe add some white chocolate or even mix in some chopped rosemary to make it extra special. Or use them together with this week’s Spartan apples from Kent to […]

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