Bake them on Good Friday: The history and tales behind these spiced buns are plenty and intriguing, steeped in folklore dating back as far as Anglo-Saxon Britain. This is perhaps one of the most iconic of buns. Recipe from my new book Oats in the North, Wheat from the South, out with Murdoch Books (2020)
Every year well before Easter Marks & Spencer starts piling up Hot Cross Buns from chocolate & salted caramel to blueberry and marmalade. Marmalade I can understand as you do add candied orange peel to the dough, but chocolate & salted caramel and blueberry just creates a whole different bun, the cross being the only reminder of a traditional Hot Cross Bun. But what is traditional or original with a recipe as old as this one? If you scroll down to the recipe you might discover I too dare to add something which isn’t traditional from time to time.
The tradition of baking bread marked with a cross is linked to paganism as well as Christianity. The pagan Saxons would bake cross buns at the beginning of spring in honour of the goddess Eostre – most likely being the origin of the name Easter. The cross represented the rebirth of the world after winter and the four quarters of the moon, as well as the four seasons and the wheel of life.
The Christians saw the Crucifixion in the cross bun and, as with many other pre-Christian traditions, replaced their pagan meaning with a Christian one – the resurrection of Christ at Easter. …