Trinidad Sugar Buns/Hot Cross Buns (recipe)

Today is Corpus Christi in Trinidad and Tobago, a public holiday.

corpuschristi-9512123According to Gov.TT:
Corpus Christi is a long-standing tradition in our islands, going back to our pre-British occupation by the Catholic Spaniards. Though mainly observed by Roman Catholics, it is a designated public holiday. This special Feast Day is celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, in commemoration of the institution of the Holy Eucharist. The impressive processions that take place (the biggest is in front of the Cathedral on Independence Square in Port of Spain) give you just a glimpse into the sacredness and significance of the occasion.

As a result I thought now was as good a time as any to answer one reader’s request for a recipe for ‘real’ Trini hot cross buns.

Would you believe that I have never had a Trini hot cross bun? It’s the truth! You see, my only experience with hot cross buns was on an Easter holiday to England when I was around 9. They were much too sweet and doughy for my liking and not being an insider to many Catholic festivals when I returned home I never saw them (or wanted to see them) again.

However when Janice (the reader) described the Trini hot cross buns of her youth as ‘yellow’ I instantly thought of the golden yellow sugar buns that are standard in all Trini bakeries. If these were the basis for a Trini hot cross bun I was more than willing to give them a shot! I decided to look through the various local newspaper recipe booklets that my mother has held on to through the years for hot cross bun recipes and, fortunately, one of them was actually an Easter one!

Using the recipe in that supplement and a recipe in the Naparima Girls High School Cookbook, as well as my many ‘tastings’ of sugar buns, I finally arrived at the following. I left mine as normal ‘sugar buns’ but feel free to use the instructions and additional recipe ingredients to add the traditional cross-shaped decorations. LIght and fluffy with a thin ultra-sweet crust, my mother and I enjoyed them immensely. Several people have told me that they taste better than Linda’s (a large bakery chain) including a reader Gina ! 😯 I hope that you will like them too 🙂

Feel free to keep the recipe requests coming 🙂

Trinidad Sugar Buns/Hot Cross Buns

Recipe by:
Makes 16 buns


1 tbsp yeast
1 tsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp sugar
1 cup warm milk
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
4 tbsp margarine or butter
4 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp sultanas
2 tbsp currants
2 eggs
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground turmeric or saffron powder


Dissolve 2 tbsp sugar and 1 tbsp hot water

Icing (if using)

1 cup confectioner’s sugar
4 tbsps milk or cream
pinch salt
1/4 tsp lime juice


1. Combine first 4 ingredients.
2. Stand aside in a warm place for about 10-15 minutes

3. Sift flour, tumeric/saffron and salt in a large bowl and rub in the margarine or butter
4. Add sugar, vanilla essence, cinnamon to yeast mixture
5. Add the eggs to the yeast mixture, beating well after each addition
6. Add sultanas and currants to yeast mixture
7. Pour yeast mixture into flour mixture
8. Combine to create a soft dough
9. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes
10. Place in a greased bowl and turn over to grease the top

11. Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 1 hour)

12. Punch the dough down and shape into 16 balls
13. Place on lightly greased baking sheets

14. Cover and let rise until doubled (20 – 30 minutes)
15. Using a sharp knife cut a cross or X on the top of each roll (if desired)
16. Bake at 375F for 12 to 15 minutes
17. Meanwhile make icing and glaze by combining the mentioned ingredients
18. When buns are baked, brush with glaze

19. Cool on racks
20. When cool, drizzle icing over the top of each roll following the lines of the cut cross (if using).

This post was first published June 7, 2007. It has been updated once since.

For more Caribbean recipes visit the Caribbean Cooking section of Veni Mangé – the Trinigourmet Amazon Bookstore! 🙂