Studded with dried fruits and gently spiced, a warm buttered hot cross bun has become far too tasty for Easter alone. Most of the big supermarkets have noted the pulling power of the doughy delights, offering perennial six-packs of the basic bun alongside shelves of pimped up versions for the holiday season – from the bejewelled cranberry and orange to the sticky luxury versions full of plump, juicy fruits and that irresistible shiny glaze.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, the ‘one-a-penny’ ditty dates back to 1733 yet there’s a multitude of beliefs and superstitions that proceed both the date, and the distinctive symbolism of the bun (widely thought to stand for the bread of communion, the cross of Christ and the spices used to wrap Jesus in the tomb) that for many sees the hot cross bun eaten only on Good Fridays as part of the Christian festival of Easter. THAT’S restraint.
Delving back into the history books, there are theories that link the buns to Saxon times – to honour their goddess of spring and fertility, Eostre, the Pagan Saxons were thought to mark their buns with the ubiquitous cross that could have symbolised the seasons, the four quarters of the moon – or simply a method of breaking into four pieces?
It was once believed that a bun baked on Good Friday would never go mouldy. In 2011 The Daily Telegraph reported that Lincolnshire-based Nancy Titman possessed the oldest bun baked by an ancestor in 1821, while The Widow’s Son pub in Bow, east London, adds a bun to a net hanging above the bar year on year. The centuries old tradition is thought to have begun in the 1820’s when a mother baked hot cross buns for her soon returning home for sea. He never returned but she continued to bake a bun for him each year in memoriam.
Around the mid 1590’s, a decree was issued by the London Clerk of Markets forbidding the sale of hot cross buns except from burials, Christmas and Easter. If enforced today, this would either see another seismic leap in home baking or a giant loss for Tesco who sell around 70 million of the Easter treats every year. Whatever your preference, there’s never been a better time to enjoy a hot cross bun than this weekend; split, toast and butter with abandon.
What could be better than a sweet, spicy bun nestled in custard? This delicious recipe from Rachel’s Organic Yoghurt will see off your surplus hot cross buns – a perfect way to round off Easter supper.
Preparation time 15 minutes plus 30 minutes cooking time
- 4 hot cross buns
- 15g unsalted butter
- 320ml double cream
- 100ml whole milk
- 2 eggs & 1 egg yolk
- 100g Rachel’s Greek Style Natural Bio Live Yogurt
- 1 tsp demerara sugar
- Pre-heat the oven to 160°C/Gas 3 and grease a 1 litre ovenproof dish.
- Cut the hot cross buns in half and spread with butter both sides. Arrange the buns in an ovenproof dish layering the cross sides face up on top.
- In a small pan add the cream and milk and heat until just warm.
- In a small bowl add the eggs and egg yolk, pour over the heated cream and milk and whisk thoroughly. Add the yogurt, whisk again.
- Pour the mixture over the buns a little at a time, ensuring it has time to soak in.
- Sprinkle the pudding with demerara sugar and place on a baking sheet.
- Bake for approx 30 minutes the resulting pudding should be puffed up, set and golden brown
Try: serving with lashings of custard or cream