easter · food · recipes · special days

hot cross buns

Hot cross buns, Hot cross buns,
One a penny, Two a penny, Hot cross buns.

If you have no daughters, Give them to your sons,
One a penny, Two a penny, Hot cross buns.

If your sons don’t like them, They’re the only ones,
One a penny, Two a penny, Hot cross buns.

Get them while they’re hot and eat them by the ton,
One a penny, Two a penny, Hot cross buns.

Fill your buns with extra spices: cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Cram them full of currants, raisins, dried cranberries, cherries or other dried or candied fruit. Top them with a simple scored cross or doughy cross, or add a sweet cross with icing, chocolate or cream. Glaze them or not. It doesn’t matter. Eat hot cross buns for Good Friday, for Lent or in the week before Easter. Whatever your preferences, whatever your traditions, hot cross buns are a yummy treat!

Some history and/or myths surrounding hot cross buns from The Smithsonian:

  • The first hot-cross buns were made by a monk in the twelfth century who wanted to honour Good Friday by scoring a cross on the top of sweet rolls.
  • The first written record of hot cross buns comes from a satirical almanac saying, “Good Friday comes this month, the old woman runs, with one or two a penny hot cross buns.”
  • Hang one from your kitchen rafter and it will stay fresh for a year. Hmmm…
  • The same hanging bun will bring good luck and protection…riiighht.
  • Old buns from the rafter were often ground up to use medicinally….ummm….eeewww.
  • Lasting friendships are made with a shared bun. An Irish poem says, “Half for you and half for me, between us two, good luck shall be.” 
  • In 1592, Queen Elizabeth I decreed that, because hot cross buns were so special, they could only be sold on Good Friday. People illegally baked them at home. If they were caught, all their buns would be given to the poor. Harsh.

Hot Cross Buns

In your mixing bowl, dissolve:

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Sprinkle on top:

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast

Allow to sit for a few minutes until yeast is foamy.

In the meantime, gently heat:

  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter

Warm until butter is melted. Do not boil.

Once yeast mixture is foamy, add:

  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 or 2 teaspoons cinnamon (to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • milk and butter mixture

Mix together with stand mixer (or by hand if you must) to incorporate.

Add:

  • 1 cup raisins, currants or dried cranberries

Continue to mix, adding more flour (about 1/2 to 1 cup a little at a time) to make a soft dough that is not too sticky. Either knead by hand until dough is smooth, or continue to knead in mixer.

Place dough in a bowl with a little oil. Turn dough to coat lightly with oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Allow to rise for an hour or until doubled in size.

Punch dough down once double and divide into 12-16 pieces, forming into balls. Place on parchment lined pan about 2 inches apart. Lightly cover and allow to rise again for about an hour until doubled in size.

If desired, brush with an egg wash:

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon milk or water

Score top of roll in a cross shape. Let rest for about ten minutes or so.

Place in preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Allow to cool on a rack.

as you can see, my buns kinda exploded, so no piped cross for them

If desired, you can pipe an icing cross on the top as well using:

  • 1/4 cup icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon milk or water

Mix until smooth and put in a pastry bag with small round tip or simply fill a freezer bag and cut a small opening in one corner.


Enjoy! I would suggest eating them the same day you bake them rather than hanging them from your ceiling for a year.

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