Hot cross buns

Hot Cross Buns, Hot Cross Buns…


Figaro magazine, London 1836 pronounced:

“This is the season at which all good Christians devour hot cross buns for breakfast under the comfortable impression that a religious duty is being performed.”

As we settle in to enjoy the Easter Bank Holiday weekend with the optimism of lockdown slowly reversing in the coming weeks and reverting back to a more normal freer life some of us may be ruing those gained lockdown pounds and wondering whether or not we should eat that Hot Cross Bun for breakfast/snack/lunch/supper….

With one high street supermarket alone anticipating sales of over 70 million it seems we partake whenever.

But why do we traditionally eat a Hot Cross Bun over Easter?

Here are some of the many traditions and superstitions connected to that familiar sticky fruity treat.

  • Hot Cross Buns are said to have originated from St Albans in the 1400’s when a monk is said to have distributed them amongst the needy
  • or, can even be traced back to Saxon times when crossed buns were eaten in April to honour Eostre, goddess of dawn and fertility, with the cross symbolising the four quarters of the moon
  • translated into the Christian tradition the cross is also seen to symbolise the intersection of Earth (horizontal) with heaven (vertical) – human and the divine
  • you should eat your bun on Good Friday to commemorate the Crucifixion
  • the cross was cut into the top before baking to “let the devil” out
  • sharing your bun is said to cement your friendship
  • the familiar childhood tune of “one a penny, two a penny” originates from the 1700s when sweet spicy fruity buns were sold on the streets of towns and cities with the familiar cry letting household know the bun boys were around – they could spend their penny on one large or two small buns
  • more locally to The Cruck Barn, Dr Johnson is recorded on Good Friday n 1783 to have breakfasted in “tea without milk…and a cross bin to prevent faintness”
  • by the 1850’s young ladies reportedly punctured a date in the back of the bun and kept it for a year – anticipating it would ensure them marriage by the next

BBC Good Food report varied ways to eat and top your Hot Cross buns:

  • salted caramel – toast and top with caramel sauce of choice and sea salt
  • breakfast buns – serve with bacon and marmalade (negates the red sauce brown sauce debate!)
  • brunch buns – soft goats’ cheese, figs, honey and optional rosemary
  • for pudding – turn into a sundae of choice, chocolate chip (or egg), banoffee – the world is your oyster…
  • or for the little people in your life – unicorn buns – split in half toast, cool and pipe unicorn horn with a mix of marshmallow fluff and vanilla icing and add sprinkles of choice.

Whether you favour toasted with butter, or a more adventurous option.  Enjoy your Easter bank holiday Bun with your cup of choice and perhaps reflect back beyond the last unprecedented twelve months to all those Easters before.

Henwood court

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