Hot Cross Buns: One a Penny, Two a Penny Foodstuff

A selection of hot cross buns, one of which is on a yellow plate.
Buns!

Right up there with scones in the UK we have hot cross buns. There’s even a song to go with that:

“One a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns!”

But what are these spiced, sweet things and what’s their star crossed history? Calm down! We’re here to explain everything.

What are Hot Cross Buns?

They’re a spiced bun with fruit in them, such as raisins, with a cross over the top of the bun.

To make the cross, bakers/chefs use a paste (flour and water) to dribble across the buns. Shortcrust pastry is also acceptable. That’s then bake into the rest of the mix.

We kind of hoped they went with searing hot poker irons to do that bit but, hey ho, better keep things practical, eh?

The foodstuff originated in the UK (God Save the Queen!!), but is popular across Australia, New Zealand, and various bits of North America (yes, even Canada).

Typically, you toast them up a little bit, cut them in half, and spread butter or margarine across the innards.

Indulgent? Yes, but very tasty. These things are like a delicacy. And are a mega nice treat from time to time.

What’s the History of Hot Cross Buns?

This tends to be thought of as a British thing, even if the Greeks baked cakes with crosses on them as far back as 6th century AD.

That cross over the top of the bun obviously has religious influences behind it.

So, it Christian countries there’s a tradition for eating toasted buns during Lent. The whole English tradition possible dates to 1361 with a 14th century monk.

Brother Thomas Rodcliffe (“Rodders” to his mates down the boozer, no doubt) developed a recipe called the Alban Bun.

It was similar to a hot cross bun. He’s distribute it to the pathetic, inferior, lazy peasants on Good Fridays.

When Elizabeth I took over in England (1592 onward), she banned the sale of hot cross buns! Except for at burials. And at Christmas. And during Good Friday. Which is nice of her.

James I (1603-1625) also issued decrees trying to strop the sale of hot cross buns.

Why? Erm… the cross symbolism? Whatever, it’s bloody stupid, nanny state, PC, lefty ideologies ruining society once again. Harumph!

Anyway, the very first definitive written record of hot cross buns was in Poor Robin’s Almanac from 1733.

They became a big hit in London and haven’t look back since.

You can wander into any British supermarket (even those horrible ones with disgusting poor people in them) and purchase some of the buns.

How do you Make Hot Cross Buns?

Here’s gorgeous, hunky, Sexiest Man Alive, eye-catcher Jamie Oliver to wax lyrical on it all. Oh yeah, and some basic ingredients:

500g white flour

75g caster sugar

2 tsp mixed spice powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 lemon, for zest

10g salt

10g fast-action dried yeast

40g butter

300ml milk

1 free-range egg (beat that SOB up!)

200g sultanas

50g finely chopped mixed candied peel

oil (for greasing stuff up)

Chocolate isn’t essential. It’s not normally added to the recipe but, hey ho, Oliver is the chef. So he knows best… apparently. *sniff*

Anyway, one to add to your cooking repertoire, eh? Now try and get that bloody song out of your head! *evil laugh*

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