Hot Cross Buns are made on Good Friday, the Friday before Easter Sunday. These buns are sweet and spiced perfectly and filled with currants, raisins and sometimes with candied fruits.
Wikipedia says: In many historically Christian countries, buns are traditionally eaten hot or toasted on Good Friday, with the cross standing as a symbol of the Crucifixion. They are believed by some to pre-date Christianity, although the first recorded use of the term “hot cross bun” was not until 1733. It is believed that buns marked with a cross were eaten by Saxons in honour of the goddess Eostre (the cross is thought to have symbolised the four quarters of the moon); “Eostre” is probably the origin of the name “Easter”. Others claim that the Greeks marked cakes with a cross, much earlier.
English folklore believed that buns baked and served on Good Friday will not spoil or become mouldy during the subsequent year. 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 ensure that all breads turn out perfectly through out the year. The hanging bun is replaced each year.
I have never heard of these stories behind the buns until recently. When I came to know about this interesting tradition, I wanted to give these a try. They were wonderful with a lovely blend of spices and sweetness. You can always adjust the spice level and the sugar level. Try these buns and enjoy the Easter with your family and friends.
- All purpose flour – 3 and 1/2 cups
- Sugar – 1/3 cup
- Ground spices – all spice (4), cardamom (1), cloves (4)
- Ground nutmeg – 1/4 tsp
- Baking soda – 1/2 tsp
- Salt – 1/2 tsp
- Unsalted butter (melted) – 1/4 cup
- One egg lightly beaten
- Active dry yeast – 1 package (1/4 oz or 7 grams)
- Warm milk – 1 cup (240 ml, not so hot)
- Sugar – 1 tsp
- Raisins – 1/3 cup
- Candied fruits (tutti frutti) – 1/3 cup
- 1 tsp of cinnamon with 2 to 3 tsp of granulated sugar
- One egg white with a splash of milk
- Confectioners sugar (icing sugar) – 1/2 cup
- Milk or heavy cream – 1 to 2 tbsp
Method of Preparation:
Add a package of yeast to warm milk and add a tsp of sugar for the yeast to feed on. Let it rest for 10 minutes. Yeast will become foamy.
Add flour in a mixing bowl and add spices, sugar, baking soda, salt and mix well. Make a well in the center and add yeast mixture.Mix well with a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. You can also use a stand mixer if you have one.
Now add melted butter and one beaten egg and mix well until incorporated.
Transfer it to a flat surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and not sticky. If required add more flour while kneading.
Grease the mixing bowl with oil or can spray and place the dough and grease it with oil. Cover it with a clean cloth or plastic wrap and keep it in warm place until it is doubled in size which takes for about 2 hours.
Dough is double in volume.
Punch down the dough and flatten it on the counter or a flat surface and sprinkle the mixture of cinnamon and sugar and the candied fruits and raisins. Close all the sides and knead until everything is blended in. Now make lime size balls and place it in a pizza tray or a rectangle baking sheet. Leave about an inch of distance in between the balls. Cover it with a moist towel and let it rise for an hour.
Dough balls are double in size. Now let’s see how to make a cross on top.
Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Take a pair of scissors and gently cut it on top to make a cross symbol.
Mix one egg white with a splash of milk and brush the dough balls with a pastry brush so that when it will be nice and brown on top.
Bake them for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Let the buns cool completely.
Now prepare the glaze by mixing confectionery sugar and milk or cream in a bowl with a whisk until thick and creamy. Transfer it to a piping bag or a ziplock bag and cut the ends. Draw cross on top and let it dry.
Enjoy your freshly baked Hot Cross Buns…