Hot Cross Buns have traditionally been eaten at Easter by Anglo Saxons for hundreds of years. Although the first recorded use of the term “Hot Cross Buns” dates back to 1733, many believe that the buns actually pre-date Christianity.
The Saxons, Eostre and Hot Cross Buns
While Easter is synonymous with the coming of Spring, baby animals, and (everyone’s favorite) egg hunts, Easter actually gets its name and from the German Goddess Eostre. Historians believe that Eostre was the German goddess of the dawn, and in some cases, was considered a “Spring-like fertility goddess.” Traditionally, Germans would celebrate Eostre by feasting throughout the month we now know as April. It is believed that Saxons ate Hot Cross Buns during these feasts, which were meant to symbolize the four quarters of the moon.
Eventually, the buns became highly popular throughout England, specifically during the Easter season. Protestant monarchs attempted to ban them due to an alleged tie to the Catholic church, but were unsuccessful due to their incredible popularity.
Superstitions Surrounding Hot Cross Buns
There are many superstitions that surround Hot Cross Buns. An English superstition states that buns that are baked and served on Good Friday won’t spoil or become moldy during the coming year, while another states that giving a bun to someone who is sick will help them to get better.
Legend also has it that by sharing a hot cross bun, two friends will be ensured friendship in the coming year as long as they say “Half for you, half for me, between us two shall goodwill be” while consuming the bun. Ships that carry Hot Cross Buns are supposed to ensure safety against shipwreck when carried on a boat, and kitchens that have a Hot Cross Bun hanging within them are supposedly protected against fires and ensured a perfect result when breads are baked (the hanging bun is supposed to be replaced annually).
Hot Cross Buns Recipe
- 2 Tsp. Active Dry Yeast
- 1/2 Cup 2% Milk (110-115º Fahrenheit)
- 1 Tbsp Softened Butter
- 1 Egg
- 4 Tsp. Sugar
- 1/4 Tsp. Salt
- 1 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
- 2 Tbsp. Raisins
- 2 Tbsp. Dried Currants
- 1/4 Tsp. Ground Cinnamon
- A dash of ground Allspice
- 1 Egg Yolk
- 1 Tbsp. Water
- 1/4 Cup Confectioners’ Sugar
- 1/8 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
- 3/4 Tsp. 2% Milk
- In a small mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk. Stir in softened butter, egg, sugar and salt. Combine 3/4 cup of flour, currants, raisins, allspice and cinnamon; add to the yeast mixture and mix well. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough.
- Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about four to six minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once in order to grease the top. Cover and let dough rise in a warm space until doubled– about one hour.
- Punch dough down; shape into six two inch balls. Place balls two inches apart on a baking sheet coasted with nonstick cooking spray. Using a sharp knife, cut a cross on top of each bun. Cover and allow to rise until doubled– about 30 minutes.
- Beat egg yolk and water; brush over buns. Bake buns at 375° Fahrenheit for 13-15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks. Combine icing ingredients and pipe over buns.