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March 30, 2004 > An Easter Tradition

An Easter Tradition

by Kristin Clark - Fremont House of Bread

Hot Cross Buns have been an English tradition since 1361 when a monk began a tradition of giving Hot Cross Buns to the poor of St. Albans on Good Friday. This tradition however, was not always associated with Christianity. Some say the origin lies in pagan traditions of ancient cultures, with the cross representing the four quarters of the moon. Like many traditions, the significance of the Hot Cross Bun has been re-interpreted from traditions pre-dating Christ to include Christian symbolism.

In the Christian church, the buns are made on Good Friday with the dough kneaded for the Christ and therefore marked with a cross to symbolize and remind Christians of the cross that Jesus was killed on. Early on the buns were even believed to have special properties including curing certain illnesses, preventing ship wreck, protecting the home from fire and even settling an upset tummy.

In England the account you will hear most often speaks of an English widow whose son went off to sea. She promised to bake him a Hot Cross Bun every Good Friday. Although he never returned, she continued to bake a hot cross bun for him every year and hung it in the bakery window in good faith that he would one day return to her. Even after the woman’s death the tradition was kept, in fact even to this day in many parts of England you will find the bakery windows full of hot cross buns on Good Friday.

Tradition binds us together from generation to generation. It allows us to pass down our values and beliefs during special family celebrations. This is one tasty tradition to add to your Easter festivities. You can purchase scrumptious hot cross buns at House of Bread in Fremont or you can make your own following this simple recipe.


2 ½ cups warm water (approximately 100 degrees) ½ cup butter (very soft but not melted)
2 pkgs of active dry yeast ½ cup sugar
6 cups unbleached white flour 1 ½ tablespoons salt
1 ½ cups of whole wheat flour 2 large eggs
2/3 cups raisins or currants (add at end of mixing)
1 ¼ cups powdered sugar
Hot water to make thick consistency

Place the yeast in the warm water and stir just until the yeast dissolves. Add the sugar mixture. Within a few minutes small bubbles will appear. At this point you may add the yeast mixture to the remaining ingredients which you have prepared in a separate bowl.

Mix with mixer on low for one minute and then increase the speed to the medium setting for 4-6 minutes. With your bare hand feel the dough, if it is sticky; add a tablespoon of flour at a time. If the dough is tough, mix a couple minutes longer until the dough has reached the right consistency. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place for approximately 1 and ½ hours or until the dough doubles in bulk. Literally, punch the dough down with your fist. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a flat cookie sheet.

Place the dough on a flat floured surface and divide into 4 oz portions. Shape into a roll. Place on cookie sheet. With a serrated knife draw a cross on top of each roll. Brush tops with slightly beaten egg white. Allow to rise for approximately 15 minutes. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the buns are golden brown. Allow to cool.

Pipe a cross into the indention made prior to baking with a combination of powdered sugar, vanilla extract and enough water or milk to make a thick icing.

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