The History and Tradition of the Hot Cross Bun

The history of the Hot Cross Bun is murky at best. There are public records with accounts dating back to the 1300’s. Several kings and queens have tried to regulate the sale of these traditional spring treats; as well as several monks who have been given credit for starting the tradition. However, they date back to pre-medieval times in Europe. A small baked good during the pagan spring celebrations were marked with an X or cross on the top of the confection as a symbol to the goddess Eostre. Later, the Greeks and Romans both had a similar spring celebration for their gods. It would only be natural that as Christianity took hold across those regions they incorporated the local baking tradition in the ceremonies of Lent and Good Friday.

No matter the reason for the tradition, the end result is still the same. A delicious, spiced confection perfect to warm the body on a chilly spring morning.

3 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 cup butter
1/4 cup instant powdered milk
1 cup white sugar
2 teaspoon salt
4 egg
6 egg white
12 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup active dry yeast
1 cup dried currants
1 cup dried raisins
1 cup dried sultanas
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon cardamom
4 egg yolk
1/2 cup water
2 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons milk

1. Put warm water, butter, skim milk powder, 1 cup sugar, salt, egg, egg white, flour, and yeast in bread maker and start on dough program.
2. When 5 minutes of kneading are left, add currants and cinnamon. Leave in machine till double.
3. Punch down on floured surface, cover, and let rest 10 minutes.
4. Shape into 50 balls and place in a greased pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place till double, about 35-40 minutes.
5. Mix egg yolk and 2 tablespoons water. Brush on balls.
6. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 20 minutes. Remove from pan immediately and cool on wire rack.
7. To make crosses: mix together confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and milk. Brush an X on each cooled bun.