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

Everyone knows that Easter is fast approaching and hot cross buns are on shelf at the local supermarket. The beauty is that they can be enjoyed in so many different ways. Whether you like them toasted and smothered in English salted butter (like me!), or cut into slices and made into bread and butter pudding, hot cross buns are a British Easter staple.

History of the Hot Cross Bun

The history of the hot cross bun dates back to a 16th century text stating: "Good Friday comes this month, the old woman runs, with one or two a penny hot cross buns." But there are reports that a 12th century monk was the first person to put a cross onto their Easter bun. The cross is traditionally made using a simple dough or even a knife imprint, but nowadays many people make the cross with chocolate icing or cream.

Hot cross buns are traditionally too sacred to eat on any old day of the year according to Queen Elizabeth I, who said that they could no longer be eaten on any day other than Good Friday, Christmas or for burials. They were simple to special. With the popularity of the buns being so high, many tried to bake them themselves to get around the rules, but if they were caught, they had to give them to the poor. Just think about the uproar it would cause if this happened today.

A reason that you should bake hot cross buns yourself (especially on Good Friday) is because it will win you friends, it will help you influence people, protect against kitchen fires, and guarantee that all of your bread baking is tip top for the year ahead!

My top tips for making hot cross buns

  • If your buns start to go a bit stale, use them in a bread and butter pudding!

  • If you have any spare buns leftover (not that that’s likely) – freeze them! They make a great treat and taste just the same when defrosted

  • Place your rising dough on a baking tray on top of a big bowl of hot water, the steam and heat will transfer onto the dough and it will rise quicker. This seems to work better than a proofing draw (and we don’t all have one of those!)

  • Soak your fruit in hot water which will make your fruit swell and ensure you don’t end up with dry buns!

  • Don’t cheat and try to cut corners. To make the best hot cross buns, use your hands to mix the ingredients – you’ll get a work out at the same time. Win, win right?

My favourite hot cross bun recipe is by Jamie Oliver. Once you make these, you will never buy shop versions again! They are sticky, fruity and indulgent. Especially when you cut them in half straight out of the oven and smother them in salted butter.

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