Hot cross bun, hot cross bun, one-a-penny, two-a-penny, hot cross bun! But what are hot cross buns besides part of a children’s song? (The song isn’t even a song; really, it was a street hawker call in London that became popular for children to repeat.) These small buns are considered symbols of the cross Jesus died upon, but have reigned in popularity for centuries due to taste!
Hot cross buns are a leaven, spiced bread baked in the same shape as a roll. Usually there are raisins or dried currants inside, and in some places, even candied citrus fruits. The most variation, though, comes in the form of the bun’s quintessential cross.
The cross can be made with excess pastry dough placed on top of the bun before it’s baked, it can be cut out of rice paper and pasted on top, it can be carved in with a knife before baking, or drawn on in icing afterwards.
While hot cross buns are sold year-round now in some places, such as the UK, they are traditionally eaten on the Friday before Easter, known as Good Friday. However, this style of baked good, like many traditions now associated with Christianity, likely precedes even Jesus’ birth!
Buns with crosses on top were supposedly eaten by the ancient Saxons of England and were said, in Medieval times, to ward off no only evil spirits, but mold, with their cross. It wasn’t until the 18th century that hot cross buns were associated with Easter celebrations, mostly because Protestant England began to frown on the sale of the crossed buns.
Even when foods aren’t purely religious in their history, they can have strong associations with spirituality! Eating is a great way to connect to traditions and other people.
What foods do you celebrate Easter with?
Photo: ozmafan on flickr