Recipe for Hot Cross Buns

Homemade Hot Cross BunsYour Homemade Recipe for Hot Cross Buns
(Source: ©andrew-neilan/123RF)

Grandma's old fashioned recipe for hot cross buns will help you to make traditional buns for your Easter time celebrations. The fact that they're easily made and homemade makes them extra special. These flavorful buns are traditionally served on the Christian holiday of Good Friday and during the Holy Season of Lent.

They are smallish, slightly sweet buns containing spices and raisins, or currants, and they sometimes contain chopped candied fruit. Their tops are marked with a distinctive white cross made of glazed sugar or lightly cooked dough to symbolize the Crucifixion of Jesus.

The spicy, festive buns are best served warm from the oven with a butter spread. They taste so good you'll want to eat them the year-round. Our family loves to eat them toasted and buttered, sometimes spread with orange marmalade.

Traditional Recipe for Hot Cross Buns

Mom's Recipe Scrapbooks (c. 1920s)

This old fashioned Easter buns recipe calls for bread yeast and is adapted from two old newspaper clippings.

These homemade Good Friday buns are easy to make, and they taste extra delicious when served warm from the oven with lots of butter.

Ingredients: 1 tablespoon yeast, 6 cups flour, 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 3/4 cup raisins, 1/2 cup mixed candied fruit, 1-1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 cup confectioners' sugar, 1 teaspoon sugar, 2 cups milk, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 egg, 1/3 cup melted butter.

Method: Add yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar to 1/2 cup warm water. Let sugar and yeast mixture sit 10 minutes. Warm milk, add 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, salt, egg, and butter. Pour mixture into bowl, add yeast mixture, and stir. Add 5 cups flour, cinnamon, raisins, and candied fruit. Mix well.

If dough is very sticky, add up to 1 additional cup of flour. Knead as for bread dough until smooth. Cover dough, let rise until doubled, then punch down, knead briefly, and cut into buns.

Makes about 2 dozen buns.

How to Decorate Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns Decorated with IcingHot Cross Buns Decorated with a Traditional Icing Cross

Place cut buns on cookie sheet and cut a cross in the top of each, then let rise till doubled in size. Bake at 325°F for 25 minutes, or until golden. Remove buns from oven and let cool. After buns have cooled, blend remaining confectioners' sugar with enough milk to form a paste and put icing in each cross.

Alternate Ways to Decorate Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns for EasterHomemade Hot Cross Buns

Follow the above recipe for hot cross buns to prepare buns for the oven, then put a cross on top of each using a little bit of rolled dough and brush on butter and sugar, then bake.

Or, with a sharp knife, slit top at right angles or press a cross indentation onto the top of each bun with a long pencil. When nearly baked, glaze, and dredge the cross thus produced with granulated sugar; repeat glazing and dredging until cross is filled with sugar. Complete baking.

Cinnamon may be mixed with the glazing sugar, or you can add a small amount of lemon extract for a slightly tangy flavor.

Vintage Hot Cross Biscuits Recipe

Mary Lee Taylor Recipe (c. 1940)

Hot Cross BiscuitsHomemade Hot Cross Biscuits
(Source: Mary Lee Taylor)

Evaporated Milk

One cup half and half or 1 cup light whipping cream can be substituted, but for the closest flavor to evaporated milk, gently simmer 2-1/4 cups whole milk in a saucepan until reduced to 1 cup.

This biscuit recipe is for anyone seeking an alternative to the traditional recipe for hot cross buns.

1. Turn on oven; set at very hot (450°F).

2. Grease a cake pan measuring 9 inches across.

3. Sift together 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour, 3 teaspoons baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt.

4. Work into flour mixture with a fork 1/4 cup shortening.

5. Stir in with fork a mixture of 6 tablespoons SEGO Evaporated Milk and 6 tablespoons water.

6. Turn out on lightly floured board. Knead a few seconds, or until smooth. Roll to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut into rounds with floured 2-1/2-inch cutter. With back of knife press a cross about halfway through each round.

7. Fill crosses with equal parts of 4-1/2 tablespoons jelly or thick jam.

8. Place close together in pan. Bake on oven shelf slightly above center for 15 minutes, or until brown. Serve at once. Makes 1/2 dozen Hot Cross Biscuits.

The History of Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns Nursery RhymeHot Cross Buns Nursery Rhyme Illustration

Many people in the United Kingdom, Canada, and elsewhere in the Commonwealth of Nations can recall reciting the following nursery rhyme as a child:

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!

The old rhyme originated back in the 1800s when English street venders sold the popular buns to the loud cry of "Hot cross buns!"

The origin of hot cross buns is unclear, and there are numerous theories offered. Some say their history dates from the small consecrated loaves once given to the poor as alms by priests after the Mass.

It's also claimed that in 1361, a Father Rocliff of St. Albans Abby in southern Hertfordshire handed out sweet, spiced buns marked with a cross to the poor after the Good Friday Mass. Good Friday is also known as the Day of the Cross.

The little buns must have been a hit with the parishioners, as their association with Good Friday remains today. A recipe for hot cross buns is a now a tradition of Easter.

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