A Taste of History with Joyce White

Hot Cross Buns, In Honor of Easter

In Kate Colquhoun’s book, Taste: The Story Of Britain Through Its Cooking, she states that during the Anglo-Saxon days in England, (roughly beginning in the 5th century),


  “In honour of Eastre, goddess of spring and the dawn, bread dough could be studded with dried fruits and baked into small loaves that, as Christianity spread, began to be marked with a cross by monks: the earliest form of hot-cross bun. Precious, sensuous foods, they were bound up with hopes for good harvests and abundant summers, and they must have been eagerly awaited, filling the senses with keen anticipation as they were taken hot from the oven or coated in honey.”


While the Anglo-Saxons and their successors, the Catholics, continued the tradition of eating hot cross buns  on Good Friday and Easter, after the Reformation, they were banned because they were thought to be too papist.  In 1592, Queen Elizabeth I restricted the baking of hot cross buns except for burials, Good Friday, Easter, and Christmas.   Now, we can make these delicious rolls whenever we want; here is a good recipe to try.  Enjoy!


Hot Cross Buns Recipe

From www.breadbaking.about.com


Makes 12 small or 9 large rolls


Ingredients for Rolls:


1 – 12 fl. oz. can evaporated milk

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1-1/2 tbsp yeast

1 egg, beaten

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

5 cups all-purpose flour, approx.


In large bowl, stir in evaporated milk and melted butter. Add sugar, salt, and yeast. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Mix in beaten egg, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Slowly mix in flour, one cup at a time until a soft dough is formed. Knead dough for about 5 minutes.  Put dough in greased bowl and turn dough over so that the top is greased. Cover and let rise in warm place for 1 hour. Turn out dough and knead out air bubbles. Divide dough into 9 large rolls or 12 small rolls. Shape into rolls and place on greased baking or cookie sheet. Cover and let rise for 30-45 minutes or until double in size. Slash X on each bun top (optional). Bake at 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes or until done. Remove from oven and allow to cool to warm.

Ingredients for Icing

3/4 cup confectioners sugar

1 tbsp milk

1 tbsp melted butter

1/3 tsp almond extract


Mix icing ingredients into small bowl. Make a cross on top of buns with icing.