Hot Cross Buns Recipe

How to make 8 hot cross buns with this easy recipe and list of ingredients with details of how to make the crosses and glaze and the history

Hot Cross Bun
These are great to eat all year round, but especially so at Easter time. The cross on the bun represents that on which Jesus Christ was crucified. There is more information about them below with instructions on how to make hot cross buns.

Each is delicious warm with butter and jam.

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Ingredients For Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

225g of plain flour
25g of margarine
40g of sugar
150mls of milk
6g of fast action dried yeast
55g of mixed dried fruit
25g of mixed chopped peel
1 teaspoon of mixed spice
1 teaspoon of salt

Ingredients for the crosses

Easter Buns

25g butter
55g plain flour

Ingredients for the glaze

2 tablespoons of sugar
1 tablespoon of milk

How To Make Hot Cross Buns

HotCrossBuns Sieve the flour and salt into a large bowl.

Rub in the margarine with the flour and salt until it looks like breadcrumbs.

Add the yeast, peel, fruit, sugar and spice and stir.

Warm the milk and then add it the mixture and mix to form a soft dough.

On a flat surface, sprinkle some flour and then place the dough mixture and begin to knead until it looses the stickiness and gets elastic.

Separate the mixture to form eight pieces and shape into rolls. Place these onto a greased baking tray.

Cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place for about an hour. This will allow the dough to rise.

How To Make The Crosses On Hot Cross Buns

Blend the butter and the plain flour and add 4 tablespoons of water.

After waiting about an hour for the dough to rise, remove the tea towel. Pipe the mixture on the top of each forming a cross.

Place them onto a baking tray and put into a preheated oven at Gas Mark 7 or 220C for 15 minutes or until they look golden brown.

Whilst they are baking use this time to prepare the glaze.

How to make the glaze:

Warm the milk and sugar until dissolved. Remove from the heat and brush over them while they are newly removed from the oven.

Return them to the oven and bake for another two minutes.

Remove and set aside to cool or serve freshly baked.

The History of Hot Cross Buns

They have traditionally been eaten at Easter time to mark the end of Lent on Easter Sunday (Palm Sunday), though many people enjoy eating them on Good Friday. They are considered a consecrated bread so Christians could break their Easter lent fast and enjoy this treat which is said to represent Christ's body.

Though considered a Christian bakery product many ancient Pagan people would eat various forms of them. For example the ancient Egyptians would bake them and offer them to their Gods and Goddesses. The ancient Incas and Aztecs also considered the baked products the sacred food of the Gods.

Rather than the cross being a representation of that on which Jesus was crucified the four quarters marked on them signified the four quarter lunar changes of the moon. Many of these ancient religions would worship the moon and believed it had many magical and supernatural powers. For the same reasons others considered the round shape as represented the sun and the four seasons of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.

The ancient Romans thought that the cross represented the horns of their sacred Ox. The word bun comes from their word for Ox which was Boun.

Early Christians would adopt some of the practices of local people where they were spreading the word of the Lord. They would then try and adapt the practices to give them a Christian interpretation. This is how Christians came to use them to signify Jesus and the Cross. Though others state that pagans baked them to welcome in Spring and that the cross was symbolic of the sun wheel which symbolised the perfect balance at the time of the Spring Equinox. Early Christians adopted this practice for their Easter traditions.

It is also thought by others that an Anglican monk in the 12th century put the sign of the cross onto them to honour The Day of the Cross which we now know at Good Friday. This was Father Thomas Rocliffe (often spelt Rockcliffe) who, in 1361, made these as small spiced cakes with the sign of the cross on top. He gave these to the poor people who visited St Albans Monastery. Traditionally Good Friday was a day of fasting and these holy buns were the only food permitted to be eaten. The spicy buns were very popular and he would make them each year but kept his recipe a secret. They certainly made a change from watered down soup for the poor.

Another story about the origins of hot cross buns came centuries later when an English widow promised her sailor son that she would bake him a cake each Good Friday when he was at sea. Her son never returned home and was lost at sea, but his mother continued to bake him a bun with a cross each Good Friday and placed it on the window of the bakery. When she died the village bakery carried on with the tradition and so they were invented.

There have been many myths over them and in olden days they were thought to have healing powers and could treat many illnesses because they were baked on a Holy Day. Some families would hang them as a charm from their ceilings to protect their household against evil for the year.

Many of the religious practices and beliefs were banned during the 16th Century when Roman Catholicism was banned during the Protestant Reformation when Queen Elizabeth I ruled. They were still made though, despite threats of court action and punishment. Some even tried to persuade the authorities that the cross was needed to make the dough rise. The practice of baking hot cross buns with crosses survived and the Queen had to pass a law to allow them to be made, but just for occasions like Easter, Christmas and funerals.

Years later English street traders would sell them on stalls and to drum up customs they would shout out their name. This phrase was so popularly heard throughout the country it gave rise to the nursery rhyme:

Hot cross buns!
Hot cross buns!
One a penny, two a penny
Hot cross buns!

If ye have no daughters
Give them to your sons
One a penny, two a penny
Hot cross buns!

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