Hot Cross Buns

“Hot Cross Buns, Hot Cross Buns, One a penny, Two a penny, Hot Cross Buns!”

It’s Good Friday today and that means you are sure to find some of these yeasty cinnamon, fruit buns around. The cross on top of the bun is said to be a symbol of the Crucifixion. It is also said that these buns may pre-date Christianity as buns adorned with a cross, which symbolized the four quarters of the moon, were made in honour of the Saxon Goddess Eostre. Indeed, there are quite a few legends surrounding this Easter treat. For instance, it is said – probably by those old wives – you know how they love to tell tales – that Hot Cross Buns baked on Good Friday will never get moldy. If you keep one hanging in your kitchen to dry out, not only will it protect your household from fire and aid all of further bread baking endeavours, but once thoroughly dry it has the medicinal uses. You take the powder from the dry bun and mix it into a glass of water, ale or milk and give it to the person who is sickly and it is a curative. This amazing powder can also be applied directly to a wound. Caution now! This will only work with buns actually baked on Good Friday, so if you’re not baking these yourself today,  you’ll have to check with you bakery on the date their buns were made to see if their magic curative charm is intact.
There is a pub in England named the Widow’s Son which has an interesting Good Friday Hot Cross Bun tradition. It seems that long ago their was a widow who lived in a cottage where the current pub now sits. She had one son who was a sailor. He was due home from sea in time for Easter. On Good Friday, she baked him a batch of Hot Cross Buns for him, as they were one of his favourite treats.Sadly he never returned home. However, she continued to set one bun aside for him every year for as long as she lived. She passed away in 1848 and her cottage was turned into a pub. The new owners christened it “The Widow’s Son” in memory of her grief and continued to set aside a bun for her long lost son every Good Friday. To this day, this pub upholds this tradition. On Good Friday, a sailor from the Royal Navy is invited to the Widow’s Son Pub. He brings along a fresh Hot Cross Bun to add to their collection-over 200- which hangs from the ceiling. Many of these buns are well over 100 years old!
Well I did actually make mine today on Good Friday so they are sure to be powerful. I’m going to try to set one aside. I make no promises though. These buns are really tasty….
Hot Cross Buns
recipe adapted from Epicurious
makes 24 buns
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup warm milk (105°–115°F.)
  • two 1/4-ounce packages (5 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 sticks (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup dried currants
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons milk
Directions:

In a small bowl stir together milk, yeast, and 1 teaspoon granulated sugar. Let mixture stand 5 minutes, or until foamy.

Place raisins and currants in bowl. Cover with hot water and let sit for 10 minutes. Drain fruit and pat dry.

Into a large bowl sift together flour, allspice, cinnamon, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Cut butter into bits and with your fingertips or a pastry blender blend into flour mixture until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Lightly beat 1 whole egg with egg yolk. Make a well in center of flour mixture and pour in yeast and egg mixtures, currants, raisins, and zests. Stir mixture until a dough is formed. Transfer dough to a floured surface and with floured hands knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Transfer dough to an oiled large bowl and turn to coat. Let dough rise, covered with plastic wrap, in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.

Butter 2 large baking sheets, or line with parchment paper.

On a floured surface with floured hands knead dough briefly and form into two 12-inch-long logs. Cut each log crosswise into 12 equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball and arrange about 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheets. Let buns rise, covered, in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

While buns are rising, lightly beat remaining egg with superfine sugar to make an egg glaze.

Brush buns with egg glaze.

Bake buns in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until golden, about 12 minutes. Transfer buns to a rack to cool slightly.

Combine water, powdered sugar, vanilla and milk and mix until smooth. If it seems too thin, add more powdered sugar until it reached piping consistency. Place icing mixture in icing bag and pipe crosses onto the top of each bun.

Buns may be made 1 week ahead and frozen, wrapped in foil and put in a sealable plastic bag. Thaw buns and reheat before serving. Serve buns warm or at room temperature.

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One Response to Hot Cross Buns

  1. Great recipe. I always like seeing what you do with bread, since we do some things ever so differently in the states.

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