You know the nursery rhyme, "Hot cross buns! Hot cross buns! One a penny, two a penny, Hot cross buns!", but do you know why we eat these golden brown buns specifically on Good Friday? It all has to do with the end of Lent and the symbols represented in the bun itself. But before we look into that, we need to figure out where Hot Cross Buns originally came from

The Origin of Hot Cross Buns

According to Smithsonian Magazine, the origins of the hot cross bun begin with a 12th-century monk who added a cross to baked buns in honor of the upcoming Easter holiday. Later in the 16th century, a text (which was later turned into the nursery rhyme) noted that "Good Friday comes this month, the old woman runs, with one or two a penny hot cross buns." The frosting cross signifies the crucifixion of Jesus while the spices and dried fruit inside of the bun represent the spices used to embalm him at his burial.

Hot Cross Bun Myths

Has your mother ever hung her hot cross bun in her kitchen? According to legend, if you hang a bun up during Good Friday it'll stay mold-free throughout the entire year. They are also supposed to expel bad spirits and prevent kitchen fires from happening.

Traditional hot cross buns can contain anything from orange zest and sultanas to currants and candied apricots.

How to Make Hot Cross Buns

In a small bowl or measuring cup, dissolve active dry yeast in warm milk. Set aside for 5 minutes, or until foamy.

In a large mixing bowl, combine one of the eggs with the butter, sugar, salt, spices, zest, the yeast mixture, and half of the all-purpose flour. Mix with a spoon until combined.

Stir in raisins and work in the remaining flour until a soft, sticky dough is formed.

Turn onto a floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, should take about 8 to 10 minutes. Instead of kneading by hand, you can also use a stand mixer with a dough hook.

Transfer to a lightly greased bowl, turning to coat, then cover and let rise in a warm place or at room temperature until doubled.

Punch down the dough then turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, then divide and shape into 12 balls. If you don't mind pulling them apart, place them about 1 inch apart from each other on your lightly greased baking sheet. To keep them separate, place them about 2 inches apart from each other. Cover again with oiled plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, another half hour or so.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven.

Score each ball using a sharp knife to cut small crosses on the top. Whisk together the remaining large egg yolk and about 1 tbs and brush this mixture over the buns.

Bake until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the baking pan to let cool on a wire rack.

To make the icing, begin by combining the powdered sugar or confectioners' sugar and vanilla extract. Add just enough milk to reach the desired consistency. Pipe a cross on the buns using a piping bag over the scored mark. If you don't mind the icing running a little, you can pipe over moderately warm buns. I mean, the best hot cross buns are served warm, aren't they?

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Hot Cross Buns 

Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 15 minutes

dozen

INGREDIENTS

  • Hot Cross Buns
  • 1 cup whole milk, warm
  • 1 packet yeast (Or 2 1/4 tsp)
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • 3 cups flour (May need up to another half cup)
  • 3 tbs butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs, for different uses
  • 1/2 cup raisins or dried currants (Or a mix of the two)
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp orange zest
  • Simple Icing
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbs milk

Instructions

In a small bowl or measuring cup, dissolve yeast in warm milk. Set aside for 5 minutes, or until frothy.

In a large mixing bowl, combine one of the eggs with the butter, sugar, salt, spices, zest, the yeast mixture, and half of the flour. Beat on medium until smooth.

Stir in raisins and work in the remaining flour until a soft, sticky dough is formed.

Turn onto a floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, should take about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a lightly greased bowl, turning to coat, then cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled.

Punch down the dough then turn out onto a lightly floured surface, then divide and shape into 12 balls.

If you don't mind pulling them apart, place about 1 inch apart from each other on your lightly greased baking sheet. To keep them separate, place about 2 inches apart from each other. Cover again and let rise until doubled, another half hour or so.

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Score each ball using a sharp knife to cut small crosses on the top. Whisk together the remaining egg yolk and about 1 tbs and brush this mixture over the buns.

Bake until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from pan to let cool on a wire rack.

To make the icing, begin by combining the powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Add just enough milk to reach the desired consistency. Pipe a cross on the buns over the scored mark. If you don't mind the icing running a little, you can pipe over moderately warm buns.