Hot Cross Buns are traditionally served on Good Friday, Easter, and Christmas. Spicy sweet rolls filled with dried fruit and iced with a cross on top.
Hot Cross Buns was the very first song that I ever learned to play on the recorder in the fifth grade. Three simple notes learned in half an hour, and suddenly I felt like a Recorder Virtuoso.
Being that our music teacher was also our choir teacher, we learned the lyrics to Hot Cross Buns in the second half of the hour:
Hot Cross Buns!
Hot Cross Buns!
Hot Cross Buns!
How’s that for progressive education? Sadly, my recorder skills barely progressed beyond Shortenin’ Bread by the time of our spring concert, so my dream of millions of concertgoers clamoring to see me play the recorder was short lived. Shattered illusions of grandeur aside, I was able to impress Son #1 with my mad recorder skills when he was learning to play the recorder in the fifth grade. So I guess I’ll always have that going for me.
Another memory near and dear to me is that of actually eating Hot Cross Buns at Easter time.
Growing up with divorced parents, I rarely spent a holiday in my own home. I did luck out in that both sides of my family served Hot Cross Buns at Easter. I never realized that the “raisin buns” that I grew up eating with “lamb butter” had a any significance to the season other than the fact that they were always present. All I knew was that they were soft, warmly spiced, and delicious!
The lamb butter was actual butter in the shape of a lamb, not butter made from an actual lamb, be-tee-dubs. I felt the need to clarify.
But because I’m a big Food Dork, and I
know hope that y’all love me for it, I felt compelled to do a little research on the subject. (Here’s the part where you pretend to act surprised.)
What I discovered is that hot cross buns are traditionally served on Good Friday (the Friday before Easter) to signify the crucifixion of Christ. The buns were so wildly popular that in Tudor England, they felt compelled to ban the sale of hot cross buns or other spiced breads with the exception of on Good Friday, Christmas, or for burials. Due to that decree, hot cross buns were more commonly made at home rather than in bakeries.
English folklore surrounding the buns claims that hot cross buns baked and served on Good Friday will not spoil or mold throughout the year. Another tale insists the buns to be little medicinal pillows of happiness that will cure the sick when eaten. Bakers have been known to hang a hot cross bun baked on Good Friday in their kitchens to ensure that all of the breads baked in their ovens in the coming year will turn out perfectly.
I love bread as much as the next gal, but I’m not so sure that I want anything hanging around my kitchen for a full year, even if it’s supposed to keep my breads from falling flat.
What I am sure of is that Hot Cross Buns are heavenly, lightly spiced, sweet rolls that are speckled with dried fruit, and topped with a creamy icing.
The recipe is simple as far as breads go, so I’m confident that it’ll be fool proof in your kitchen.
Neither of my grandmothers ever used a stand mixer to make bread dough, but I did. Rest assured that this dough can be mixed in either a stand mixer or by hand. After the initial rise, the dough is deflated, turned onto a floured surface, and cut into a couple dozen pieces.
Then the pieces are rolled into balls, pinched to seal, and placed onto prepared baking sheets to rise again.
Once the buns have doubled in bulk, brush them with a quick egg wash to glaze the tops.
After brushing with glaze, cut a cross into the top of the buns before baking them.
Once out of the oven, the buns are allowed to cool almost completely before being striped with gooey icing. Hot Cross Buns are so wonderful that we don’t wait for special occasions to indulge in them around here. I should probably mention that I make my buns on the larger side so that they are perfect for sharing. In fact, sharing a Hot Cross Bun is said to ensure friendship in the coming year.
Half for you and half for me!
Between us two shall goodwill be!
Share a hot cross bun with me, Friends!