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! I have no idea where that saying comes from but we used to chant it at Easter time looking through the Bakers window at all those lovely Hot Cross Buns. (We also used to chant it whilst we beat a big fat ginger kid called Andrew with a stick although that probably has no relation to the Buns as we used to chant Christmas Carols too.) Hot cross buns are typically eaten on Good Friday and during Lent. Stories abound about the origins of the Hot Cross Bun. Yet, the common thread throughout is the symbolism of the "cross" of icing which adorns the bun itself. History of the Hot Cross Bun Some say that the origin of Hot Cross Buns dates back to the 12th century, when an Anglican monk was said to have placed the sign of the cross on the buns, to honor Good Friday, a Christian holiday also known as the Day of the Cross. Supposedly, this pastry was the only thing permitted to enter the mouths of the faithful on this holy day. Other accounts talk of an English widow, whose son went off to sea. She vowed to bake him a bun every Good Friday. When he didn't return she continued to bake a hot cross bun for him each year and hung it in the bakery window in good faith that he would some day return to her. The English people kept the tradition for her even after she passed away. Others say that Hot Cross Buns have pagan roots as part of spring festivals and that the monks simply added the cross to convert people to Christians. Even if this is the case, I think it was rather bright of the monks to be able to so readily tie existing traditions to Christianity! Hot Cross Buns were probably originally used in ceremonies and rituals and the Christian Church attempted to ban the buns, although they proved too popular. Left with no alternative but defeat, the church did the next best thing and "Christianized" the bread with Queen Elizabeth I passing a law which limited the bun's consumption to proper religious ceremonies, such as Christmas, Easter or funerals. HOT CROSS BUNS Yields: 12 servings "An Easter tradition, these lightly sweetened cinnamon yeast buns feature tender little currants strewn throughout. An egg yolk wash gives these buns a browned, glossy finish, making a canvas for the namesake cross, a painting of milk and sugar icing." INGREDIENTS 3 / 4 cup warm water (110 degrees F) 3 tablespoons butter 1 tablespoon instant powdered milk 1 / 4 cup white sugar 3 / 8 teaspoon salt 1 egg 1 egg white 3 cups all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon active dry yeast 3 / 4 cup dried currants 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 egg yolk 2 tablespoons water 1 / 2 cup confectioners' sugar 1 / 4 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 teaspoons milk METHOD Put warm water, butter, skim milk powder, 1/4 cup sugar, salt, egg, egg white, flour, and yeast in bread maker and start on dough program. When 5 minutes of kneading are left, add currants and cinnamon. Leave in machine till double. Punch down on floured surface, cover, and let rest 10 minutes. Shape into 12 balls and place in a greased 9 x 12 inch pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place till double, about 35-40 minutes. Mix egg yolk and 2 tablespoons water. Brush on balls. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 20 minutes. Remove from pan immediately and cool on wire rack. To make crosses: mix together confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and milk. Brush an X on each cooled bun. AND FINALLY... What do you get if you pour boiling water down a rabbit hole? Give up? Hot, cross bunnies! I'll get me coat... CHEF GILLIGAN