Hot Cross Buns

I’m no religious fanatic but I admit I secretly wish Woolworths and Coles would just remove the piped crosses on hot cross buns and sell the ones with the crosses only on the week of Good Friday. A priest, Father Kennedy seems to be in agreement with this according to The Hobart Mercury, no doubt after observing with some dismay that the first hot cross buns were on sale as early as January.

“What has happened is a loss of the specific understanding that they were ever connected to Good Friday, and hence they’ve drifted into the general reality of pre-Easter supermarket shopping.”

Sadly the well-loved hot cross bun has travelled a familiar path like the significance of the star of David, angels or the nativity at Christmas into secular culture. The world has lost any genuine or conscious connection with this tasty bread’s historical Christian origins.

“These ‘cross buns’ were definitely a part of the customs by which Christian beliefs entered into the homes and domestic cultures of Christians through the Middle Ages, so that Christianity was not just something that happened in church, but was part of a living Christian culture, associated with the round of the Christian year and the sacred seasons”, said Father Kennedy.

If you’re a non-believer or non-practicing Christian, perhaps reading this makes you feel it all only relates to religious superstitions practiced and passed down from the ancients? The truth is that Easter is really Christianity’s most important religious holiday.

The regretful loss to active Christians today is the lack of the world’s specific acknowledgement that these hot cross buns neatly wrapped in their plastic packaging on supermarket shelves have anything to do with a major event 2000 years ago that forms the basis of their faith.

That event is none other than the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, whom according to the Scriptures was ‘fully man and fully deity’ , the Messiah and the Son of the God worshipped by Moses and Abraham as written in the Holy Bible.

For bible-believing Christians, Christ paid the price of mankind’s sins from his death on the cross but overcame death when He resurrected on the third day in his glorious eternal being. The decorated easter eggs enjoyed in an Easter celebration were meant to symbolise new life and resurrection, when the body of Christ was miraculously missing from the tomb where he was buried.

Though the Bible made no mention of rabbits or bunnies delivering eggs to kids, it looks to me that the myth of the Easter bunny has superseded any religious affiliation to Christ on this important occasion to celebrate the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Rather, it is the easter bunny, the colourful chocolate easter eggs, make that obscene amounts of candy and chocolate that mark the Easter season. Christ is in no way represented by the commercial powers that be. Who, you ask. Well, Lindt, Cadbury, Nestlè and the like!

“From a Christian perspective, Easter eggs are said to represent Jesus’ emergence from the tomb and resurrection. Decorating eggs for Easter is a tradition that dates back to at least the 13th century, according to some sources. One explanation for this custom is that eggs were formerly a forbidden food during the Lent season, so people would paint and decorate them to mark the end of the period of penance and fasting, then eat them on Easter as a celebration.” (

At every Easter, our family has created our own series of traditions to teach our children the significance and basis of our faith in Christ. One of these traditions involve my daughter helping me to bake our own homemade hot cross buns. I sometimes oblige and pipe white milk chocolate crosses on the tops of ours, to her delight.

Here’s one of the best bread recipes I’ve ever learnt to make which I’m proud to share with you as you mark this important faith celebration with every Christian on the planet. We enjoy easter chocolate eggs too, and each year we hide the eggs and the kids excitedly embark on their annual easter egg hunt. The kids know the easter bunny is only a bunny used to sell eggs, and in our family he’s nothing more than that. Like my insightful six-year old girl would tell you, “Easter is about Jesus dying for us on the cross. The shops made the easter bunny up to make us buy lots and lots of chocolate’.

Hot Cross Buns Ingredients:

150 g butter, melted
1 cup milk
4 large eggs, slightly beaten
¾ cup granulated sugar
4 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp all spice
Zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
5 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
¾ cup raisins
¾ chocolate chips

For Brushing and icing:
½ cup Apricot or orange marmalade (for brushing)
2 C icing sugar
2 TB milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Heat milk slightly in a microwave or saucepan till it boils then turn off the heat. Let cool slightly, then pour milk into bowl on a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Add sugar, melted butter, cinnamon, orange and lemon zest, and each beaten egg one by one as you beat the ingredients on low speed. Add the flour, salt and yeast, continuing to mix on low until a sticky dough forms. Keep the mixing going until you get the dough rather smooth. Add raisins and cherries, mixing to incorporate.

Remove the smoothened dough and place onto a floured surface. Knead briefly to mix in the dry toppings of your choice—in this recipe, the raisins and the chocolate chips. Shape the dough into a ball then in a large bowl oiled with some butter. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and place in a warm spot to rise for about 2 hours or it has more or less doubled in size.

Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper. Turn the dough out onto a very slightly floured work surface. Knead and shape the dough into a log shape. Cut the log in half, then according to the equal number of pieces you wish. Shape each ball to roughly the same size. Space out each ball of dough on the baking sheet at a few inches apart in neat rows. Cover baking tray tightly with cling wrap and place in a warm spot to rise for about 2 hours, until buns are doubled in size and touching one another.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Uncover the cling wrap. Brush with a bit of egg wash (1 egg with some water) then place baking tray into the oven to bake until golden brown, about 18-25 minutes.

When buns are baked and cooling on a wire rack, it’s time to brush on some of the marmalade or jam over the tops of the buns. It’s fine if they are still warm.

When buns are completely cool, ice them with the icing sugar. Whisk or stir together icing sugar, vanilla, and about 2 tablespoons of milk or more if needed. The icing should be thick but spreadable. Adjust the thickness according to what you prefer. It should be spreadable.

Transfer icing into piping bag. Pipe crosses on buns. These hot cross buns will keep for one day at room temperature in an air tight container, or if frozen, for up to 3 months. Happy Easter!

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