009By:Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb

A few weeks before Easter, hot cross buns appear in grocery store bakeries in abundance – but it turns out they are much more than just a tasty harbinger-of-spring. A popular food tradition in predominantly Christian, English-speaking countries, English folklore associates hot cross buns with friendship, good will and good fortune.

Perhaps it is the icing cross found on top of these small, spicy, bread-like cakes filled with dried fruits that originates the legend they are blessed with the power to ward off evil spirits and bring good. For example folklore says, sharing a hot-cross bun with a friend on Good Friday ensures a lasting friendship, giving a piece of a hot cross bun to the ill will speed their recovery, taking hot cross buns along on travels will promote safe passage and hanging a hot cross bun in the kitchen during Lent will enhance baking and protect the area from cooking mishaps.

Hot cross buns can be traced back several centuries to England, according to multiple online sources. In 1361, an English monk is said to have begun giving hot cross buns to the poor on St. Albans Abbey Good Friday. For a period of time the English government is said to have outlawed the baking of hot cross buns except on holidays. In the late 1600’s, the growth of the tradition of hot cross buns is attributed to the growth of Christianity and speculation is that it may have been at this juncture the cross was added to the top of the buns. By the 1730’s hot cross buns were being sold on the streets hence the popular ole’ rhyme likely first sung out by street vendors hawking their wares, “One-a-penny, two-a-penny, hot cross buns.”

Here’s a link on newsandviewsjb Twitter to an “Easy Hot Cross Buns” recipe from King Arthur Flour – I may try it myself.