Hot Cross Buns

Tuesday 23 March 2010

Hot Cross Buns
Hot Cross Buns
One a Penny
Two a Penny
Hot Cross Buns

One of the things I love most about Easter is Hot Cross Buns. These were always an Easter tradition for me back in Canada, a commonwealth country, and it's pretty wonderful to be able to partake of them over here in the UK. The grocery shop shelves begin lining themselves with them soon after Valentines day and I have to say I just can't get enough of them!

A hot cross bun, or cross-bun, is a type of sweet spiced bun made with currants or raisins and leavened with yeast. It has a cross marked on the top which might be effected in one of a variety of ways including: pastry, flour and water mixture, rice paper, icing, or intersecting cuts. Back in Canada the cross was almost always made with icing, but over here in the UK, it is generally made with a flour and water mixture.

In many Christian countries Hot Cross Buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday, the cross adorned tops representing Christ's crucifixion. According to cookery writer Elizabeth David, Protestant English monarchs saw the buns as a dangerous hold-over of Catholic belief in England, being baked from the dough used in making the communion wafer. Protestant England attempted to ban the sale of the buns by bakers but they were too popular, and instead Elizabeth I passed a law permitting bakeries to sell them, but only at Easter and Christmas. Nowadays they are generally only seen around Easter.

English folklore includes many superstitions surrounding hot cross buns. One of them says that buns baked and served on Good Friday will not spoil or become moldy during the subsequent year. Another encourages keeping such a bun for medicinal purposes. A piece of it given to someone who is ill is said to help them recover.

Sharing a hot cross bun with another is supposed to ensure friendship throughout the coming year, particularly if "Half for you and half for me, Between us two shall goodwill be" is said at the time. Because of the cross on the buns, some say they should be kissed before being eaten. If taken on a sea voyage, hot cross buns are said to protect against shipwreck. If hung in the kitchen, they are said to protect against fires and insure that all breads turn out perfectly. The hanging bun is replaced each year.

All superstitions and folklore aside, Hot Cross Buns are just plain good eating! I scooped this delicious recipe from the BBC Good Food site. They're really scrummy!

*Hot Cross Buns*
Makes 12
Printable Recipe

Spicy, stogged full of delicious fruit and decorated with pastry crosses these are just wonderful!

For the ferment starter
1 large free-range egg, beaten
215ml/7½fl oz warm water
15g/½oz fresh yeast
1 tsp sugar
55g/2oz strong white flour
For the dough
450g/1lb strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground mixed spice
85g/3oz unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus extra for greasing
85g/3oz sugar
1 lemon, zest only
170g/6oz mixed dried fruit
For the topping
2 tbsp plain flour
vegetable oil, for greasing
1 tbsp golden syrup, gently heated, for glazing

For the ferment starter, mix the beaten egg with enough warm water to make up approximately 290ml/½ pint of liquid. Whisk in the yeast, sugar and flour until the mixture is smooth and well combined, then cover and set aside in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Sieve the flour, salt and ground mixed spice into a large mixing bowl, then rub in the butter using your fingertips. Make a well in the centre of the mixture, then add the sugar and lemon zest to the well and pour in the ferment starter. Using your hands, gradually draw the flour at the edges of the bowl into the well in the centre, mixing well with the ferment starter, until the mixture comes together as a dough. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly until smooth and elastic. Work the mixed dried fruit into the dough until well combined.

Grease a large, warm mixing bowl with butter. Shape the dough into a ball and place it into the prepared bowl, then cover with a clean tea towel and set aside in a warm place for one hour to prove.

Turn out the proved dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knock back the dough. Shape it into a ball again and return it to the bowl, then cover again with the tea towel and set aside for a further 30 minutes to rise.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and divide it into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then flatten slightly into a bun shape using the palms of your hands. Cover the buns again with the tea towel and set aside to rest for 5-10 minutes.

Grease a baking tray with butter and transfer the buns to the tray. Cut a cross in each bun, almost cutting all the way through the dough, so that each bun is almost cut into quarters. Wrap the tray with the buns on it loosely in greaseproof paper, then cover completely with plastic cling film (or place in a large plastic bag. Tie the end of the bag tightly so that no air can get in.) Set aside in a warm place for a further 40 minutes to rise.

Preheat the oven to 240*C/475*F.

For the topping, mix the plain flour to a smooth paste with two tablespoons of cold water. When the buns have risen, remove the polythene bag and the greaseproof paper. Spoon the flour mixture into a piping bag and pipe a cross over the cuts in each bun. Place the buns in the oven and bake for 8-12 minutes, or until risen and pale golden-brown. As soon as you remove the buns from the oven, brush them with the hot golden syrup, then set aside to cool on a wire rack.

Enjoy! We like to split and toast them and then spread them with some softened butter.

Please note that I copied some of the facts and folklore from Wikepedia as I am not a walking encyclopedia. If that offends you, I am sorry. :-)


  1. hehehe I love that little comic! And those buns.... YUM!

  2. Love those Easter bunnies, Marie! I was just laughing out loud!

    Thanks for the recipe for the buns--and especially for their history--I love learning those things!

    Hope things have gone well for you today--thinking of you and all you're needing to get done...much love and happiness sent your way tonight dear friend!

  3. Those bitten Easter bunnies at the top are hilarious! haha... LOVE these hot cross buns... gosh, I've not made those in years. Our Easter and lead up to in rather plain, I'm afraid, we don't do much since it's usually just the two of us...LOL! Hope all is going well this week with your packing & getting ready. Hope to chat soon! LOVE YOU HEAPS!! :o) ((BIG HUGS))

  4. I adore Hot Cross Buns. And although I've traditionally done it, I've never really cared for the icing on top. So, this year, I'll use your flour & water cross on top. (Lower in calories too -- although that's negligable with these lovely buns!).

    And the bunny cartoon always make me laugh. As a displaced Newfie, I never hear the word "arse" anymore. It's such a good, gutteral sounding word, as the Monty Python boys would say. "Very woody!"

    Thanks for the laugh and the recipe. I appreciate you, Marie!

  5. Maravillosos bollitos. Me apunto tu receta. Gracias.

  6. You are so right! My first Easter treat is Hot Cross buns; I remember my mom have them on good Friday; I continued this when my boys were growing up. but it's been a long time;love your recipe and your picture; thank you for bringing back memories.
    love your chocolate bunny!

  7. Love the bunnies, made me and Jo laugh out loud!!!

    Going to drop Jo right in it here.... she took one look at your hot cross buns and said "There shop bought!!!" When I ask her why she thought that, she replied "coz yours look nothing like them!!! Hmmmm, don't think she was having a go at your buns, it was a back handed slap for mine!!!! LOL Don't you just hate teenagers? LOL Mine apparently, taste ok, but are too small and look funny!! I'm going to read your recipe and give them a go... lets see if I can impress the teenager!!!

  8. They are so pretty! My husband adores these..I made some a few yrs ago..
    Marie..Could I used dried yeast? Like Fleishman's?If so do you know how much I should use?

    I think the bunnies are so funny..I have seen them..but don't know where?

    Here then:)

  9. These look fabulous - I have similar recipes and love them!

  10. Nana, I would think that one packet of yeast would work well. Just use some of the liquid in the recipe to proof it first.

  11. Oh no - another recipe to be added to the Great Hot Cross Bun Hunt! hehehehe

  12. LOL, love that cartoon. The hot cross buns look delicious. They are a favourite of mine.
    *kisses* HH

  13. Traditionally we English use a knife to cut the cross into the bun. There is no icing unless it is water and sugar brushed onto the top as a glaze. They are not as sweet as the shop bought ones. I make these each year and look forward to it as they are a treat, and there is nothing quite like them the rest of the year. I use my mum's recipe and they have never failed to delight anyone who eats one!

  14. Your poor buns instead! heehee! ♥


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