Last Updated on 20/04/2022 by richard
Eating Hot Cross buns on Good Friday is a Christian tradition celebrated in the UK and many British Commonwealth countries.
You can’t beat a halved toasted Hot Cross bun, served hot and spread with butter. The smell of warm spices, fruit and peel in a lovely sticky bun is irresistible.
Of course, they aren’t just for Good Friday. They appear in the shops well beforehand and for a while after Easter. Shop bought ones are nice, but you can’t beat homemade ones. They are not difficult to make and taste so much better!
I like Mary Berry’s recipe, it’s straightforward and reliable and produces lovely buns with a sticky golden syrup glaze.
It can be a bit of a workout kneading the dough by hand, it’s more manageable if you have a mixer with a dough hook. I use my trusty Kenwood Chef, and it produces a smooth stretchy dough in about 6 minutes.
To make the crosses you pipe a simple flour paste across the buns before they go into the oven.
The buns are eaten to symbolise the day of Christ’s crucifixion with the flour cross representing the cross on which Christ died. The spices in them are supposed to represent the spices used to embalm Christ’s body.
Hot Cross Buns Trivia
- By the end of Easter weekend Tesco will have sold 70 million of them.
- Queen Elizabeth I banned them except for holidays in 1592 believing their popularity to be of Catholic origins.
- Cross buns have origins dating way back, with the cross representing the four seasons or the moon’s phases.
- There is a belief that Hot Cross buns made on Good Friday will not go mouldy. Two buns exist which are over 200 years old, one in Essex (1807) and one in London (1821). Good luck toasting either of those!
- Another superstition from the mid 1800s, says that if a young single lady looking for a husband keeps a bun successfully for twelve months, then she will marry during the following twelve.
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Hot Cross Buns for Easter
For the buns
- 500 g strong white flour plus extra for dusting
- 75 g caster sugar
- 2 tsp mixed spice powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 lemon finely grated zest only
- 10 g salt
- 10 g fast-action dried yeast
- 40 g butter
- 300 ml milk
- 1 free-range egg beaten
- 200 g sultanas
- 50 g mixed candied peel finely chopped
- oil for greasing
For the topping
- 75 g plain flour
- 2 tbsp golden syrup for glazing
- Put the flour, sugar, spices and lemon zest into a large bowl and mix together. Then add the salt and yeast, placing them on opposite sides of the bowl.
- Melt the butter in a pan and warm the milk in a separate pan. Add the butter and half the tepid milk to the dry ingredients. Add the egg and use your hands to bring the mixture together, incorporating the flour from the edges of the bowl as you go. Gradually add the remaining milk, to form a soft pliable dough (you may not need all of the milk).
- Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead by hand incorporating the sultanas and mixed peel into the dough. Lightly knead for 10 minutes until silky and elastic and forming a smooth ball. (The kneading can also be done in a food mixer with a dough hook.) Oil a bowl and place the dough in a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rest in a warm place for about 1½ hours or until doubled in size.
- Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knockback and knead for a further 5 minutes. Return to the bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place to rise for a further hour, or until doubled in size.
- Turn the dough out again on to a floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces, shaping each of these into a ball. Line 1-2 baking trays with paper and place the balls on the tray, placing them fairly close together and flattening them slightly.
- Slip each baking tray into a large clean polythene bag, making sure the bag doesn’t touch the buns. Leave for 40-60 minutes until the buns have doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C Fan/Gas 7.
- For the topping, add the flour to a bowl with 100ml water. Mix together to make a paste and spoon into the icing bag.
- When the buns have risen remove the polythene bags and pipe a cross on each bun. Bake for 15-20 minutes until pale golden-brown, turning the baking trays around halfway through if necessary.
- Melt the golden syrup in a pan and while the buns are still warm, brush the buns with a little syrup to give them a nice shine, before setting them aside to cool on a wire rack.