St. Helen’s Daily Lenten Devotional
“Good Friday comes this month, the old woman runs. With one or two a penny, hot cross buns”: A London street cry noted in the Poor Robin’s Almanac for 1733.
In 6th Century AD, so the story goes, a Greek Christian grandmother, made small sweet cakes and marked them with a cross. Her family approved!
But it is, again, to the British Isles, that we turn for more information about the hot cross bun. It is a spiced sweet bun usually made with dried fruit, or at least raisins. Marked with a cross on the top, made of dough or sometimes icing sugar, their arrival traditionally heralded the end of the Lenten season. The cross represents the crucifixion of Jesus, and the spices used recall the spices prepared to embalm Him at his burial(Luke 23:53-56), which is why hot cross buns were considered appropriate on Good Friday.
Some historians suggest that hot cross buns originate from St. Albans Abby, in England, where Brother Thomas, a 14th-century monk baked a recipe called an ‘Alban Bun’ which were distributed to the local poor starting in 1361. English legends and superstitions about the buns variously promised health benefits, protection from shipwreck and, if hung in the kitchen, a guarantee of perfect bread for the year ahead. By 1592, with Elizabeth I on the throne, hot cross buns were subject to political and economic sanctions and so, British Christian grandmothers made them at home and shared them there, the warm, sweet treat a promise of the Easter celebration to come.
Recipe: If you don’t have your grandmother’s cookbook handy try: recipetineats.com/hot-cross-buns-recipe/
Excellent recipe with lots of information and tips…
Reference to Photo: You will see raisins on 2 of the buns above but not on the third. I add the raisins as I am shaping each bun, rather than during kneading, so that some are fruit free, to meet a preference in our house. The raisins stuck on the outside are for easy identification!