Hot Cross Buns: Sweet Buns From The 16th Century

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I love bread. I love baked goods. And most of all, I love baking. I am a nocturnal baker. I start baking late only after kids go to bed. Yesterday, Good Friday eve, I baked a dozen hot cross buns while I was reading Born Wicked.

I liked it. It was romantic, but sad. I'm already waiting for the second book. This Cahill Witch Chronicles are to be a trilogy.

Do you like hot cross buns? I do like them. Well, I love all kinds of bread and I love baking. So I try to bake a specialty of each holiday. After 15 seconds in the microwave, the hot cross buns are hot and soft just as they were right out of the oven.

Hot cross buns are traditionally eaten warm or toasted from Good Friday to Easter, and the cross standing symbolizes the Crucifixion. Hot buns had been eaten even before Christianity, but the hot cross buns became a feature of Easter.


According to the legend, Elizabeth I, protestant English monarch, saw the hot cross buns as a dangerous badge of Catholic belief in England, since the bread was baked from the dough used for the communion wafer. However, the buns were too popular to be banned from sale. It almost sounds like a joke, but Elizabeth I passed a law permitting bakeries to sell them, but only at Easter and Christmas.

There is no such a law now :) and luckily we can eat hot cross buns whenever we want. Thank Goodness. Personally, I bake hot cross buns only in spring. I think it's because there are so many festive cakes and bread to bake from Halloween to Valentine's day. :)

Bread baking is usually pretty easy if you have time. I had lots of time since I wanted to finish Born Wicked. :)

Here goes the recipe for cranberry hot cross buns. (adapted (and modified) from



3/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 Cup sugar
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 egg, room temperature
1 egg white
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup cranberries or any dried fruit such as raisin and currant
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons water

Cross glaze

1/2 cup icing (confectioner's) sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons water


How to make

1. In a small saucepan, or in the microwave, heat the milk until lukewarm, about 40 seconds. Put warm milk, butter, sugar, salt, egg, egg white, flour, and yeast in the bowl.

2. Run the stand mixer with the dough hook on. (You can also use either a bread maker or man-power :))

3. When five minutes of kneading are left, add dry fruits and cinnamon.

Then the dough is ready.

4. Oil the bowl lightly and leave it in a warm place until the dough doubles. (I preheat the oven to 170F and turned it off and let the dough rise in the warm oven).

5. Punch down on floured surface, cover, and let rest 10 minutes.

6. Shape into 12 balls and place in a greased 9 x 12 inch pan.

7. Cover and let rise in a warm place till double, about 35-40 minutes.

8. Mix egg yolk and 2 tablespoons water. Brush on balls.

9. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 20 minutes.

Remove from pan immediately and cool on wire rack.

10. Meanwhile, combine the icing sugar and milk and mix until smooth, to make glaze.

11. Place the glaze in a paper cone or a small plastic bag.

Cut the end of the cone or bag and pipe a 'cross' on the top of each bun.


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