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What are Hot Cross buns?
Hot cross buns are delicious sweet buns with a spicy flavor, sultanas, and an iconic white cross emblazoned on its front. Usually, hot cross buns are associated with Easter celebrations and have long been part of the Christian calendar marking Good Friday.
Some historians trace this bun back to the 13th century, and the bun is the stuff of superstitions stretching back hundreds of years.
A relatively simple recipe to create, hot cross buns are steeped deep in centuries of tradition as well as taking us back to when we were children (no matter how old we might be today).
Spiced with delicious cinnamon allspice and zesty orange peel, hot cross buns own that zone between spice and sweetness and leave you wanting more with every bite.
Don't be afraid that this is a yeast-risen delight because you can easily make it yourself and appreciate how much yummier it is compared to the store-bought variety.
Hot Cross Bun History
Although the hot cross bun original recipe is lost in antiquity, historians suggest that the recipe originated with a monk in St Albans Abbey in England in 1361. Some even suggest that a similar recipe had its origins in ancient Greece in the 6th century,
The hot cross bun was so tied into the ending of Lent and particularly Good Friday, marking the crucifixion of Christ that many English monarchs imposed a ban on their sale outside of their holy calendar.
The iconic bun became such a symbol of religious faith that many superstitions arose about the holiness of this mystical bun, and many superstitions arose from the bun's holy powers.
One superstition suggested that the hot cross bun was so holy that it would not rot or collect loud for a full calendar year.
Another prompted the curative qualities of a hot cross bun kept from good Friday that could be given to the ailing as a cure.
One superstition all of us failing bakers would love to be true is if you suspended a hot cross bun on a piece of string in your kitchen after lent, your bread and bakes would never flop for the entire year. I think I definitely need one of those!
Hot Cross Bun Ingredients
Although the original version of hot cross buns held no dairy products as they were forbidden to Christians until after Palm Sunday, the modern version incorporates the rich flavors of butter and milk.
Although versions vary, modern hot cross buns contain:
- Instant dry yeast
- Castor sugar
- Bread or All-Purpose flour
- Orange zest
For the cross on the top of the bun, bakers typically create a mixture of flour and water and, for the glaze, a yummy shine of apricot jam and a little dash of warm water.
Hot Cross Bun Nutritional Information
The hot cross bun is hardly a weight watcher's dream food, clocking in at around 155 calories per bun. However, it ranks under some sweet treats such as croissants by about 80 calories and doughnuts by 100 calories at least.
Each hot cross bun offers some essential protein of about 4g and 7% of your daily value of iron which makes it healthy in some manner. Each bun provides 5% of your daily fiber needs and up to 7% of your daily value of iron.
Add to that 3% of your daily calcium requirements, and we can overlook the high carbs (31g) and the paltry 3g of fat. Can't we?
How to Make Hot Cross Buns
The art of the hot cross bun is pretty simple, although having a stand mixer makes life easier. One merely mixes the dry ingredients and adds the wet. Then it's ten minutes or so of kneading or 5 minutes in a mixing stand before you set your dough out to prove.
Once your dough doubles in size, one needs to place the dough on a well-floured surface and shape it into a log. Then one separates the dough into your bun shapes and shapes into individual balls and lines them up on a tray lined with baking paper or sprayed liberally with a non-stick spray.
When the delicious balls are almost doubled in size, you then pipe your flour and water paste through a nozzle to give each bun the characteristic cross.
Bake your buns in a 180-degree oven, and once the surface is brown (about 22 minutes), then brush with your jam while still warm.
Hot Cross Bun Recipes
Hot cross buns have certainly evolved from their original recipe, and now the world embraces a variety of delicious variations.
In the UK (the hot cross bun capital of the world many stores offer mouthwatering variations of this classic bun, such as:
- Apple cinnamon.
Australia favors a coffee-flavored variety of hot cross buns as well as cherry, chocolate chip, and banana.
Some stores factoring in religious activity have even marketed the 'not cross bun,' without the Christian symbolism on the front for all faiths to enjoy without reservation.
My favorite is the sultana-free version because, quite frankly, those puckered old things ruin the experience for me!
Hot Cross Bun FAQ's
What is a hot cross bun?
A hot cross bun is a spiced, sweetened bread typically made with raisins or currants and marked with a cross on the top. It is traditionally eaten on Good Friday in many parts of the world.
Where do hot cross buns come from?
There is disputed evidence about the origins of hot cross buns, but they are thought to date back to medieval England or Europe. One theory suggests that they were first made by monks as an offering to God on Good Friday.
Why are hot cross buns associated with Good Friday?
The association between hot cross buns and Good Friday likely comes from the Christian tradition of eating a special bread on Holy Friday. In the Middle Ages, this bread was marked with a cross to represent the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Over time, the tradition of eating hot cross buns on Good Friday spread throughout Europe and eventually to other parts of the world.
What are the ingredients in a hot cross bun?
Hot cross buns typically contain flour, sugar, yeast, spices (such as cinnamon and nutmeg), currants or raisins, and citrus peel. Some recipes also include eggs or butter.
How are hot cross buns made?
Hot cross buns are typically made by first mixing together the dough ingredients, then kneading the dough until it is smooth. The dough is then left to rise before being shaped into buns and baked in the oven. Once the buns are baked, a cross is cut or piped onto the top of each one.
Can hot cross buns be made without raisins or currants?
Yes, hot cross buns can be made without raisins or currants. However, they will not be traditional hot cross buns if they do not contain these dried fruit ingredients.
What is the difference between a hot cross bun and a regular bun?
The main difference between a hot cross bun and a regular bun is that hot cross buns are spiced and typically contain raisins or currants. They are also marked with a cross on the top, which is symbolic of Good Friday.
Are hot cross buns vegan?
Hot cross buns can be vegan if they are made without eggs or butter. Some recipes for vegan hot cross buns use plant-based milk instead of dairy milk.
Can hot cross buns be gluten-free?
Yes, there are recipes for gluten-free hot cross buns that use gluten-free flour. These buns will not contain wheat, barley, or rye ingredients.
How long do hot cross buns last?
Hot cross buns typically last for 2-3 days when stored in an airtight container. They can also be frozen for up to 3 months.
How should hot cross buns be eaten?
There are many ways to eat hot cross buns! They can be enjoyed plain, toasted, with butter or margarine, with jam, or even as part of a dessert.
What is the nutritional value of a hot cross bun?
A typical hot cross bun contains around 200 calories and 5 grams of fat. It is also high in carbohydrates and sugars.
Are hot cross buns healthy?
Hot cross buns are not typically considered to be a healthy food because of their high sugar and carbohydrate content. However, they can be part of a balanced diet if consumed in moderation.
What is the best way to store hot cross buns?
Hot cross buns can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days. They can also be frozen for up to 3 months.
Can hot cross buns be reheated?
Yes, hot cross buns can be reheated in the oven or microwave. Reheating will help to keep them moist and soft.
How long do hot cross buns take to bake?
It typically takes around 20-25 minutes to bake hot cross buns. The ideal baking time will depend on your oven and the recipe that you are using.
Are hot cross buns traditional?
Hot cross buns are a traditional food in many parts of the world, especially those with Christian traditions. They are typically eaten on Good Friday or during Lent.
What do hot cross buns symbolize?
Hot cross buns can symbolize many things, but they are most commonly associated with Good Friday and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The cross on the top of the bun represents the cross that Jesus was crucified on.
Do hot cross buns have to have a cross on top?
No, hot cross buns do not have to have a cross on top. However, the cross is a key part of the traditional recipe and is symbolic of Good Friday.
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