Hot cross buns are a delicious Easter tradition. These muffins have all the flavour of hot cross buns without the trouble of making a bun dough.Hot cross buns are spiced sweet buns filled with dried fruit and marked with a cross on top. They mark the end of lent and are traditionally eaten on Good Friday in many countries including Britain, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and some parts of America.
Hot cross buns are full of Christian symbolism. The cross represents the crucifixion of Christ and the spices represent the spices in which Jesus was wrapped in the tomb. However, it is not clear how and when hot cross buns originated; there are many different stories, some saying that they go back to Roman times. Pagan Saxons would bake cross buns at the beginning of spring in honour of the goddess Eostre. One story states that a 12th century monk from St Alban’s Abbey introduced the bun to celebrate Good Friday and over time they gained in popularity. Another belief is that they are from the Elizabethan era. At the end of the 16th century, Elizabeth passed a law that banned the sale of spiced buns except at burials, Christmas and Good Friday. As a result of this, people started to bake their own hot cross bun privately in their own homes.
Some stories also say that hot cross buns were baked on Good Friday for superstitious reasons. One superstition is that buns baked on Good Friday will not go moudly all year. Others say that buns have medicinal properties, protect against shipwrecks if taken on a sea voyage, and protect against fires of hung up in the kitchen.
This is probably the origin of a commonly known street vendors cry:
‘Hot cross buns, hot cross buns!
One ha’penny, two ha’penny, hot cross buns!
If you have no daughters, give them to your sons,
One ha’penny, two ha’penny, hot cross buns!’
These days, hot cross buns can often be found in supermarkets all year around studded with a range of dried fruit and sometimes even chocolate!
Hot Cross Muffins
- 190g self raising flour (or 190g plain flour + 2tsp baking powder)
- zest and juice of 1 orange
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 70g sultanas
- 75g currants
- 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 2tsp mixed spice
- 80ml oil
- 125ml yogurt
- 50g brown sugar
- icing sugar
- Preheat oven to 200c and line a muffin tin with cases
- Soak the dried fruit in boiled water for 10 minutes. Pat dry
- Sieve the flour, bicarb, cinnamon and mixed spice in a bowl
- In a seperate bowl whisk the oil, yogurt, eggs and sugar. Add the orange zest
- Add in the dry ingredients and stir until combined
- Add the dried fruit
- Spoon into cases and bake for 12-14 minutes
- Leave to cool on a cooling rack
- Mix the orange juice with icing sugar to make a stiff paste. Drizzle a cross onto the cooled muffins