Hot Cross Buns!

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This weekend is Easter, and Friday marks the end of Lent, a period of  abstinence and fasting for many Christians, starting right after Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras. That’s forty days of willpower, my friends, and explains why one of the season’s most celebrated treats are hot cross buns. But just what is a hot cross bun, and why are people so crazy for them this time of year?

Hot cross buns originated in England in the middle ages, and are soft, sweet rolls, spiced with cinnamon, allspice and clove, and usually studded with fruit like raisins or currants, or sometimes chopped candied citrus peel. The cross on the top refers to the crucifixion, and was traditionally made with shortcrust pastry, whereas the spices are a reference to the spices with which Jesus Christ was anointed at burial. More recently, the cross design has been made with just a plain mix of flour and water, but even this has been modified to suit the sweet tooth, as many cooks prefer to make their crosses with a simple sugar glaze.

 

some folks prefer to amp up the level of sweetness

some folks prefer to amp up the level of sweetness

 

As with the type of fruit you add, the level of sweetness is also up to the individual cook; some prefer a sweeter bun, while others prefer a more grown-up flavour, with a little more spice and a little less sugar. Either way, these darling little buns are always a hit at Easter, served warm with or without a little butter, and are so good you will probably want to make them throughout the year. If this is the case, you might want to perhaps opt for a different design; maybe something seasonal like a daisy in the summer, or a maple leaf in the fall, perhaps a snowflake in the winter, and call them, “Not Cross Buns.”

 

leave it to the Aussies to make their crosses out of Vegemite!

leave it to the Aussies to make their crosses out of Vegemite!

 

Here is Anna Olson’s recipe for a pretty traditional pan of glazed hot cross buns. We like the moderate level of sweetness in her recipe, as well as the fruit she chooses- sultana raisins and mixed peel. And icing for the crosses, thank-you very much!

 

a little song so you can whistle while you work!

a snappy little song so you can whistle while you work!

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