As it’s the week before Easter, now’s the perfect time to introduce Hot Cross Buns into my #TastyTuesday posts. The origin of the buns is a bit murky; officially, they date back to around 1733, though theories abound that they were being eaten as far back as pagan times. Some theories say a monk created them in the 12th century, others a 14th-century monk. Others claim there is a depiction of hot cross buns on a Roman coin. Some folks used to think they brought good luck and even went so far as to nail them on a wall in the house as a lucky charm.
Whatever their origin, they have been adopted into popular culture as a year-round tasty treat and now come in flavors such as Belgian chocolate, orange and cranberry, date and cranberry, apple and cinnamon, and even toffee. The Church of England has adopted a story around the symbolism of the bun, which may or may not be true, but it sounds good.
The bun, according to the CofE, represents the communion service, while the spices represent the spices used to wrap Jesus in the shroud before he was placed in the tomb. Then, there’s the rather obvious symbol of a cross marked into the top of the bun before baking (or sometimes marked out with icing, depending on the baker).
So, while we can’t claim to know the definitive story of the hot cross bun, they are at least a fairly simple treat to bake and, most definitely to eat. Enjoy!
Hot Cross Buns
1/2 cup/4 fl oz/.25 pint milk
1/2 ounce active yeast (2 envelopes)
1 teaspoon sugar
2.25 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1 ounce softened butter
1-2 Tablespoons additional milk
1/2 cup currants (currants are simply small dried red seedless grapes; if you can’t find these, substitute raisins)
2 Tablespoons milk
2 Tablespoons sugar
1. Warm the 1/2 cup milk gently until lukewarm and mix it with the yeast and sugar.
2. Place the flour in a large bowl and add the salt, brown sugar and spices. Make a well in the center and add the yeast mixture, softened butter, egg and 1-2 Tablespoons milk so that it makes a firm dough. Add the currants. Knead the mixture until the dough takes on a rubbery texture.
3. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover and let it rise for about 2 hours in a warm spot, until the dough has doubled in size.
4. Punch the dough down and shape into buns. Put the buns on a greased baking tray and allow to rise until doubled, about 1/2 hour. Make a cross in each bun with a knife.
5. Bake at 400°F/200°C for 15 to 20 minutes.
6. Gently boil the milk and sugar in a small saucepan until the mixture bubbles and forms a glaze. Brush the buns with two coatings of the glaze while they are still warm.