\"Delicious

Delicious Easter treats - hot crossed buns Photo by: Chef Gilligan

Gilligan's Gourmet: Traditional Easter treat Hot Crossed Buns

\"Delicious

Delicious Easter treats - hot crossed buns Photo by: Chef Gilligan

Hot cross buns!
Hot cross buns!
One a penny, two a penny,
Hot cross buns!

Hot cross buns!
Hot cross buns!
If you haven't any daughters,
Give them to your sons!
One a penny, two a penny,
Hot cross buns!

Hot cross buns!
Hot cross buns!
If you haven't got a penny
A ha'penny will do.
If you haven't got a ha'penny,
Well God bless you.

I never understood why they called Good Friday Good! After all it wasn’t too good for Jesus was it?
Growing up in England the most notable Good Friday custom was baking hot cross buns. (See recipe below).

Hot cross buns are perhaps the strangest of the Lenten food customs as they are sweet rolls that are traditionally eaten on the most important fast of all, Good Friday.  The origins of this very English custom are not entirely clear.  It has been suggested that hot cross buns originated in the pagan cult that preceded Christianity in Britain.  But the earliest historical mention of them is traced to a 12th century English monk who is said to have marked buns with the sign of the cross in honor of Good Friday.  A 14th century record tells how a monk of St. Albans distributed spiced cakes to the needy on Good Friday, inaugurating an annual tradition, though he carefully guarded his recipe.

If the Daily Mail, one of England’s ‘newspapers’, is to be believed then some city councils across England have banned schools and hospitals from making these Easter traditional buns as they may offend non Christians, a similar story I heard this week was that schools in New York have to call Easter Eggs ‘spring spheres’! I am sure that these are just urban myths though, right?

Hot Cross Buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday in Ireland. The cross on the top symbolizes the Cross Jesus was crucified on.

There are superstitions in Ireland related to Hot Cross buns and Good Friday for example:

Hot Cross Buns made on Good Friday, have magical powers, they will not go moldy, but if you keep a Hot Cross Bun from one year to the next your house will be protected from fire.

Whatever their origins, there were certainly ideas associated with these buns that some would regard as superstitions.  Hot cross buns were eaten after sundown to break the Good Friday fast. In the Middle Ages, they were believed to have powers of protection and healing.  People would hang a hot cross bun from the rafters of their homes for protection through the coming year.  And if someone was sick, some of the dried bun would be ground into powder and mixed with water for the sick person to drink.

In the reign of Elizabeth I, when Roman Catholicism was banned, making the sign of the cross on the buns was regarded as popery and the practice was banned.  But neither Church nor State could suppress the popular custom, so legislation was enacted to limit consumption of hot cross buns to legitimate religious occasions such as Christmas, Easter, and funerals.  The familiar nursery rhyme, "Hot cross buns," derives from the call of the street vendors who sold them.

All kinds of beliefs prevail as to the curative properties of the Good Friday buns. Unlike common bread, they are supposed not to grow moldy when kept and stale buns are retained for all kinds of purposes - for grating into medicines, as charms against shipwreck, as a means of keeping rats out of corn, and as a general "good luck" talisman for the household, to be hung from the ceiling on a string.

HOT CROSS BUNS

Ingredients

2 c. scalded milk
1 c. butter
1 c. sugar
2 cakes yeast, dissolved in 1/3 c. lukewarm water
2 eggs
8 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 ½ c. currants {or raisins}
1 tsp. cinnamon or nutmeg

Method

Pour scalded milk over butter and sugar, stirring to dissolve. Cool to lukewarm. Add the yeast mixture and eggs. Mix well. Gradually add the flour and salt, reserving a small amount of flour to dust raisins.

Add spice and floured raisins to the dough and knead in thoroughly. Place in buttered bowl, cover and let rise until doubled. Punch the dough down and turn it out onto a floured board. Shape dough into 30 buns and place on buttered cookie sheets.

Cover and let rise 30 minutes, then very carefully press the shape of a cross into each bun, using a spatula or the back of a knife. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking until buns are browned, about 10 to 15 minutes longer. Frost either the entire bun or just the shape of the cross.

White frosting:

1 egg
1 tsp. lemon juice, vanilla or almond extract
Confectioners' sugar

Beat egg white until stiff, adding confectioners' sugar until mixture is thick. Add flavoring. If frosting is to thin, add more confectioners' sugar.

AND FINALLY…What do you get when you drop boiling water down a rabbit hole?
Hot cross bunnies.

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