Easter Sunday is a special day for Christians around the world. Among the special dishes that are made prior to Easter, the one thing that seems top the list is the making of hot cross buns.

But did you know there is a history to the birth of ‘Hot Cross Buns’? Learn more about the favourite treat during the Holy Week here.

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What is a hot cross bun?

  • This is a simple bun- not so super soft of fluffy, but dense inside.  It is a round or oval shaped bun that is delicately speckled with sweet currants or dry raisins inside. On top of the bun a cross is designed.
  • The dough is made with yeasty dough, dry fruits like raisins and also a few powdered spices to create a sweet, woody and pleasant aroma in the air. 
  • The Cross is made with a thick paste of flour and water and pasted carefully onto the bun. Then this is baked to perfection. 
  • Once the hot buns come out of the oven, then a beautiful sticky glaze of sugar or honey is applied before serving everyone. The famous spice blend used in the Hot Cross Buns includes cloves, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and sometimes even citrus rinds are used.
  • It is best enjoyed when eaten warm, as the smells of these aromatic spices will waft through the entire household. That is surely a beautiful comfy feel!

Now, that was a glimpse of the traditional recipe and more than 90% of the world still uses this recipe. But a few passionate chefs have made their way out to try out other variations of this traditional recipe. 

The New exciting variations would include:

  • Dollop of butter with some preserves to garnish the bread.
  • More inclusion of spices like ground coriander seeds, and nutmeg are used in the modern types of bread.
  • Some innovative chefs flavour their buns with apples, citrus fruits, chocolate and also cheese. These variations have received a lot of acceptance over the years.
  • The most common types you will see now are the golden buns with a touch of fresh cream and sweet cherries on top.

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AMSTERDAM, March 7, 2015 - Photo taken on March 7, 2015 shows the chocolate products exhibited at 2015 Amsterdam Chocolate Festival in Amsterdam, Netherlands. 2015 Amsterdam Chocolate Festival is held here March 5 to 9 to promote the consumption and production of sustainable cocoa and chocolate.

Apart from Hot Cross Buns, even delicious Easter eggs are given to children. There are myths related to that also. 

What is the significance of the Hot Cross Buns?

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PAMPANGA PROVINCE, March 25, 2016 (Xinhua) -- Devotee Ruben Enaje is nailed to a wooden cross in a reenactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday in Pampanga province, the Philippines, March 25, 2016. Thousands of spectators watched devotees crucified to reenact the passion of Jesus Christ during the Holy Week, but the Roman Catholic church criticizes the gory observance and urges Catholics to confess, pray and meditate instead.

Few facts that you may like to know about the conventional Hot Cross Bun:

  1. It is made to signify the end of the Lent period and eaten just after Good Friday.
  2. The bun is prepared with ingredients that were not consumed during the Lent Period. These would include milk and eggs.
  3. The cross that is prepared on the bun symbolises the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
  4. The spices that are used within the bun are used to compare the method in which Jesus Christ was embalmed and wrapped before being placed in his tomb. So, historically these were the same spices used to embalm Jesus.
  5. This tradition was initially started in the early 1700s, wherein a monk felt the need to feed the poor people after Good Friday service was over. So, he created this recipe and baked this dense piece of bread. Later, he distributed it for free to the poor.
  6. This bun became gained a lot of popularity over the years because many people felt there was a hidden charm attached to this bun and that was when they started attaching certain myths and beliefs to it. 

Did you know the 7 myths that revolve around hot cross buns?

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Queen of the United Kingdom Elizabeth II. (File Photo: IANS)

The Queen’s Rule: 

Queen Elizabeth I had once established a rule that hot cross buns were supposed to be baked during just before Easter. She also mentioned that if she found that anyone was making Hot Cross Buns on any other day- they would have to give it off as free food to the poor.

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Christians offer prayers in a church on Easter Sunday in New Delhi on April 20, 2014.

Ward Off Evil:

Another belief is that – if hot cross buns are baked and then hung in the kitchen, it will move away all those evil spirits that linger in and around your living premises.

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Share n Be Merry:

Break the bread and share with your friend. The myth states that you will be lifelong friends from then on. True or not- we are not sure! 

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People visit church on Good Friday in Kolkata on April 18, 2014.

Heal us Little Bun:

From keeping away bad health, to evil spirits and even maintaining good relationships in the family and near kin- it is believed that hot cross buns will keep the mind and body feel nice and healthy. So, in the olden days, shopkeepers used to tie these buns at the entrance and at corners to safeguard the goodwill of their shop or hotel.

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BUENOS AIRES, April 4, 2015 - A master of pastry bakes slices of braided Easter bread on May Avenue, Buenos Aires, Argentina, on April 4, 2015. According to local press, the braided Easter bread has the length of 150 meters and the width of 24 centimeters, being the largest bread ever made in Argentina. The bread is to be sold in slices for charity.

Medicine for Anything:

Old ladies in many villages believed that Hot Cross Buns have a lot of healing powers. According to them, if you grate the bread or buns and drink them with water- a lot of your body ailments will vanish smoothly. There is not substantial proof for all this- as nobody seems to have been cured through this method. But still the myth is alive!

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AMMAN, April 16, 2017 - Jordanian Christians attend a Mass pray for Easter at Orthodox Church in Amman, Jordan, April 15, 2017.

Kiss the Cross:

Before going to the seas, it is believed that if you kiss the cross on the hot cross buns and then consume them- you will be saved from a ship wreck. So, if you are planning to go on a long holiday, it is a good idea to kiss the cross on the hot cross bun and then set out on a journey. 

Image Source: Xinhua/Alberto Raggio/IANS

BUENOS AIRES, April 4, 2015 - Masters of pastry slice braided Easter bread on May Avenue, Buenos Aires, Argentina, on April 4, 2015. According to local press, the braided Easter bread has the length of 150 meters and the width of 24 centimeters, being the largest bread ever made in Argentina. The bread is to be sold in slices for charity.

Everlasting Buns:

It is believed that Hot Cross Buns are blessed and hence it is believed that they never get spoilt or decayed. If made in the right way, they will stay in good condition to almost one year. Another myth that used to exist in the past is that, if you bake a small batch of buns and hand it around the house and then bake another fresh batch

We are not very sure of how far these are true. In fact, there has never been any noted truth in these myths, but yes, it is something linked to the holiness and the speciality of Easter. Enjoy your Easter with Hot Cross Buns this year and enjoy a year of charm, happiness and good health.