Tuesday, April 14, 2009

One a penny, two a penny...

Hot Cross Buns!

A hot cross bun, or cross-bun, is a type of sweet spiced bun made with currants or raisins and leavened with yeast. It has a cross marked on the top which might be effected in one of a variety of ways including: pastry, flour and water mixture, rice paper, icing, or intersecting cuts.

In many historically Christian countries, buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday, with the cross representing the crucifixion. They are believed by some to pre-date Christianity, although the first recorded use of the term "hot cross bun" is not until 1733; it is believed that buns marked with a cross were eaten by Saxons in honour of the goddess Eostre (the cross is thought to have symbolised the four quarters of the moon); "Eostre" is probably the origin of the name "Easter". Others claim that the Greeks marked cakes with a cross, much earlier. Cakes were certainly baked in honor of deities since very ancient times, although it is not known if they were marked.

According to some cookery writers, Protestant English monarchs saw the buns as a dangerous hold-over of Catholic belief in England, being baked from the dough used in making the communion wafer. Protestant England attempted to ban the sale of the buns by bakers but they were too popular, and instead Elizabeth I passed a law permitting bakeries to sell them, but only at Easter and Christmas.

English folklore includes many superstitions surrounding hot cross buns. One of them says that buns baked and served on Easter Sunday will not spoil or become mouldy during the subsequent year. Another encourages keeping such a bun for medicinal purposes. A piece of it given to someone who is ill is said to help them recover. Sharing a hot cross bun with another is supposed to ensure friendship throughout the coming year, particularly if "Half for you and half for me, Between us two shall goodwill be" is said at the time. Because of the cross on the buns, some say they should be kissed before being eaten. If taken on a sea voyage, hot cross buns are said to protect against shipwreck. If hung in the kitchen, they are said to protect against fires and ensure that all breads turn out perfectly. The hanging bun is replaced each year.

Although, Mrs B doesn't share any of this with you. Only the recipe.


INGREDIENTS. - 2lb. of flour
1/2 a lb. of sugar
1 0z. of yeast
1 pint of warm milk
1/2 a lb. of butter
1 lb. of currants
1/2 a teaspoonful of salt
1 teaspoonful of spice

METHOD. - Mix the flour, sugar, spice and currants; make a hole in the middle of the flour, put in the yeast and 1/2 a pint of warmed milk; make a thin batter of the surrounding flour and milk, and set the pan covered before the fire until the leaven begins to ferment.
Put to the mass 1/2 a lb. of melted butter, add the salt, and beat well together, make up into rather a soft paste with all the flour, using a little more warm milk if necessary. Cover this with a clean cloth, and let it once more rise up for about 1/2 an hour. Shape the dough in buns, and lay them apart on greased tin plates or baking-sheets in rows at least 3 inches apart, to rise for about 1/2 an hour.
Place a cross mould on them (this may be done roughly with the back of a knife), and bake in a quick oven from 15 to 20 minutes.

TIME. - From 15 to 20 minutes.