Hot Cross Buns

Additional historical information
Hot Cross Buns are traditionally served on Good Friday and the cross marked on each one is symbolic of the Crucifixion. Nowadays the cross is usually made using piped pastry.

Law's Grocer's Manual for 1895 suggested that the use of a cross on bread during Holy Week owed its origins to the strict fasting that was customary in mediaeval times: 'Only a certain amount of bread could be eaten, and that was duly marked off in the dough by two lines to show its length and breadth. These loaves were sold in some churches, and were carried from place to place by pilgrims.'

It was said that bread baked on Good Friday never grew mouldy; the same belief extended to Hot Cross Buns, one writer suggesting that the spice preserved them. Sainsbury's Archives, however, recommend eating your virtual Hot Cross Buns warm on the day they are baked. Delicious!

Modern Recipe
Hot Cross Buns
Dough: 500g plain flour, 5ml spoon salt, 5ml spoon mixed spice, 2x5ml spoons ground cinnamon, 50g soft brown sugar, 50g butter or margarine, 25g yeast, 175ml warm milk, 1 large egg, 75g currants, 25g mixed peel.
Paste: 3x15ml spoons plain flour, 2x15ml spoons milk, 5ml spoon oil. Glaze: 2x15ml spoons milk, 2x15 ml spoons sugar.

Sift the flour, salt, spices and sugar into a mixing bowl and rub in the fat. Cream the yeast with a little of the milk and leave until frothy. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, pour in the yeast, add the egg, fruit and remaining milk and mix to make a smooth dough.
Turn onto a floured surface and knead for 8 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place in a clean bowl, cover with a damp cloth and leave to rise in a warm place for about 2 hours until doubled in size. Turn onto a floured surface and knead for 2 minutes. Divide into 12 pieces, shape into buns and place on a greased baking sheet. Cover and leave in a warm place for about 25 minutes until doubled in size.
To make the paste, put the flour in a small bowl and gradually stir in the milk and oil to make a smooth thick batter. Spoon into a small piping bag fitted with a 5 mm plain nozzle and pipe a cross on the top of each bun.
Bake in a preheated moderately hot oven 200°C, 400°F, Gas Mark 6 for 20 minutes, until golden brown.
Place the milk and sugar in a small pan, bring to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Brush the buns with the glaze as soon as they come out of the oven. Transfer to a wire rack and cool slightly before serving.

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