Hot Cross Buns are a great Easter giveaway.
Yes, I know. Easter was yesterday, the day before I posted this blog. But hey, Easter can be like the way my family celebrates birthdays. We stretch out the festivities for over a week, or whatever works for most of us.
So, if you’re looking for a new shelter in place cooking project or know some neighbors or shut-ins that need to see a smile and enjoy the scent of homemade bread, this recipe for hot cross buns can be a fun, festive way to keep sharing the meaning of Easter.
From what I read, the hot cross bun, also called the Good Friday bun, dates back as far as the 12th century. Queen Elizabeth of England is reported to have restricted the sale of sweet buns to funerals, Christmas, and Good Friday. This only worked to make the bun more popular, for people began making the buns at home.
Here are some links that go into greater detail about the history and lore of hot cross buns.
Remember, I am not an affiliate of anybody so I don’t get any kind of kickback for suggesting these resources. I recommend them because I think highly of them. A dear friend gave me the Heritage Cookbook as a high school graduation present and I have used many recipes from it and love reading the history behind recipes. Food history is fascinating!
Piping a cross on top of these buns has always been problematic for me. This year it worked. First, use the icing recipe I give below. I found the icing holds together better and doesn’t spread out as much because it uses egg white rather than milk. Second, forget the piping. Don’t even bother with the ziplock baggie with a cutout corner trick. Just let the icing dribble off the spoon. Move quickly to make your first line, turn the spoon to stop the flow, then make the second line of the cross. With just a bit of practice, you’ll get the skill quickly.
Are your kids helping you? Have them practice making crosses on sheets of waxed or parchment paper using the spoon.
So, what can you do with your hot cross buns?
Kid’s cooking project: As you make the hot cross buns with your children, ask them why you design a cross on top and what the cross means. Then tell them the account of how Jesus allowed Himself to be killed on a cross so He could take the punishment we deserve. Then, as you dye Easter eggs together, remind them how Jesus couldn’t stay dead; he came back to life so we would never have to be afraid of Death and could look forward to living forever with Him.
Neighbor treat: Do you have some friends, neighbors, or shut-ins that your local laws would let you make a two-arm’s length away drop off during the Coronavirus quarantine? Here’s a way to make that work.
Buy rectangular disposable food storage containers at your local Dollar store. Line them with a layer of Easter grass. Place two dyed Easter eggs on one end and a pastel party napkin on the other end. Place two hot cross buns on top of the napkin and then secure the lid. You can tape an Easter card to the top or write a personalized note inside a spring-themed blank note cared. Ring the doorbell, back away six feet, smile big, and when the door opens, place the basket at your feet, wish your friends Happy Easter, and wave as you walk away. As an extra bonus, as the need warrants, ask your elderly friends if there is anything you can do or pick up for them. If they invite you in (so many of them are lonely!) gently remind them that you can’t but you love them and you are praying for them.
I like making hot cross buns around the time of Easter because it keeps the image of the cross before me and those I share with. The buns are also tasty, simple, and an easy gift to share with others.
Am I inspiring you? Here’s the recipe.
HOT CROSS BUNS
- 3 ½ TO 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- ½ to 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¾ cup milk
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 eggs
- 2/3 cup dried currants or raisins (opt.)
- 1 slightly beaten egg white
- Frosting (see below)
In a mixing bowl, combine 2 cups of the flour, yeast, salt, sugar, and cinnamon. Heat milk to 120-130 degrees. Add milk and then oil to the flour mixture and stir well. Beat eggs together in a separate bowl; add to flour mixture and beat well. This is best to do in an electric mixer. Beat at medium speed for 3 minutes. Stir in currents or raisins and enough flour to make a soft dough. Turn out on floured board and knead until smooth, elastic, and ever so slightly sticky.
Cover, let rise for 1 hour. Punch dough down. Let rest 10 minutes. Grease a baking sheet. Divide dough into 20 equal pieces and shape into balls. Place on baking sheet in five rows of four. Cover, let rise till double, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
While oven is heating, cut a shallow cross on the top of each bun. Brush tops with egg white. Reserve any remaining egg white for the frosting. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the buns are golden brown. Remove to a cooling rack, wait about 15 minutes, then use icing to create a cross on each bun.
FROSTING: Stir together 1 ½ cups powdered sugar, ¼ tsp vanilla, dash salt, and reserved egg white. Mix until smooth. If icing is too thick, add a drop or two of milk. The icing should dribble slowly from the edge of a spoon.