Wednesday, April 8, 2009

~Easter Baking: Hot Cross Buns~

Hot cross buns,

Hot cross buns,
one ha' penny,
two ha' penny,
hot cross buns.
If you have no daughters,
give them to your sons,
one ha' penny,
two ha' penny,
Hot Cross Buns

There's lots of baking that goes on in the Italian kitchen around traditional holidays, and Easter Week is no exception.

Hot Cross Buns are first made on Ash Wednesday and eaten throughout the six weeks of Lent. In Italy, they are traditionally eaten on Good Friday, with the cross signifying the crucifixion.

According to tradition, Hot Cross Buns were the only food allowed to be eaten by the faithful on Good Friday. Made from dough kneaded for consecrated bread used at Mass or Holy Communion, and thus representative of Christ’s body, Hot Cross Buns were also credited for miraculous healing and for protection.

This tradition suffered attack during the 16th century. During Queen Elizabeth I’s reign, when Roman Catholicism was banned, ‘backward - lookers’ were reportedly tried for Popery for signing the cross on their Good Friday buns. The accused often claimed that it was necessary to mark a cross on the dough, to ensure that the buns would rise. However, the popularity of the buns prevailed, and the Queen resorted to passing a law which limited the bun's consumption to proper religious ceremonies, such as Christmas, Easter or funerals. So go ahead and try your hand at making these traditional Hot Cross Buns for your Good Friday or Easter meal! This recipe makes eighteen buns. Enjoy!



5 cups all purpose flour, divided
2 pkg active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup currants or raisins
1/3 cup candied orange peel
1 egg yolk mixed with 2 tablespoons water

Combine 2 cups of flour, yeast, sugar, salt and spices in a large mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, heat milk and butter to very warm (125°F). Add to flour. Beat on medium speed of mixer for 1 minute. Add eggs. Beat another minute. Stir in currants, orange peel and enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes, adding additional flour as needed. Try not to add too much flour; dough can be slightly sticky to the touch. (Put oil on your hands to prevent sticking if necessary.) Place in a buttered bowl, turning to butter top. Cover; let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Punch down dough; turn onto lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half; divide each half into 9 pieces.

Form each piece into a smooth round ball. Place balls of dough in two buttered 8-inch square baking pans. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Brush lightly with egg yolk mixture.

Bake rolls in preheated 375°F degree oven, 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from pans.

Cool on a wire rack.

Drizzle frosting (see below) across the top of each bun in the shape of a cross. Makes 18 buns.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

3 oz cream cheese, softened
1 c confectioner's sugar
1 tsp milk

Beat cream cheese and sugar in a bowl until smooth. Add up to 1 teaspoon of milk or just enough so that the frosting is a good consistency for drizzling. (If it becomes too watery, add more sugar).


Nel from Nebraska said...

Oh goodie.. I'm first!! I always love your stories of Easter preparation, Carol! Don't forget to post a picture here of your bunny cakes! I'm going to make those scrumptious looking hot cross buns this year.. Happy Easter, baby doll!

Nel from Nebraska xx oo

The Pink Bird House said...

Those buns look delicious!! And what an interesting story to go along with the yummy pictue of them. I think I know what to make for easter this year!! Happy Easter to you, Debby

Anonymous said...

Didn't know that! Oddly enough, that was the title of the very first piano song I learned when I was 6. It was composed of 4 bars of the same note over and over and you had to switch playing hands every other bar. Haha. Happy Easter!

Audrey said...

Yummy!! Wish I could make buns. Can make really good hockey pucks - but not buns.

Carol said...

Thanks Nellie! I will!

Happy Easter to you, too, Debby!

Nancy...OMG! Me, too! It was in the red piano book called, "Teaching Little Fingers To Play"! I remember how cool I thought I was crossing one hand over the other! Both my boys learned from that book, too!


Woman in a Window said...

Delicious! My daughter made a variation of them today for a school luncheon. Such a nice time to gather. Have a great Easter. My best to your family.

Carol said...

Erin...Thanks for stopping by. My best to you and your family, too!