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Hot Cross Buns

Weirdly, the moment Christmas is over, the supermarkets here bring out hot cross buns to sell. Me, I love it — I could happily eat them all year around. 

But on social media it causes some people to practically foam at the mouth with indignation, because eating hot cross buns is an Easter tradition. When I was a kid, we ate them for breakfast on Good Friday (and through the rest of Easter if we were lucky). But as I said, these days I’d happily eat them all year round.

They’re not like other fruit buns. The cross on the top isn’t the source of the appeal — it’s usually  just made with flour and water. It’s the combination of fruit and spices in the bun. The spices are usually cinnamon and allspice, but they can also vary. After Easter I can still get fruit buns, but they aren’t nearly as yummy.

But in recent years the supermarkets have gone a bit crazy, varying the buns, so we can get “fruitless buns” (a travesty in my opinion), chocolate buns, brioche buns, caramel buns, and more, none of which I will touch.  

They don’t have to be served hot, but whether you eat them cold with butter, or heated, or toasted they are always called hot cross buns. In a US novel once, I saw them called “cross buns” because they weren’t being served hot — that’s wrong. Even if they come frozen from the fridge, we’d still call them hot cross buns. I generally don’t bake them myself, but my former neighbors once brought me in some they’d made and they were delicious, the best I’ve ever tasted.  The photo above is from the recipetineeats site, which also has a recipe and video.

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4 months ago

Sadly the bakery where I grew up no longer makes the wonderfully spiced and fruited hot cross buns. I used to have my mom buy and freeze them for when I went to her or she came here. It’s a 7+ hour drive, so I couldn’t just nip in for a dozen. The ones here in Maryland were not great, but you just made me and the kids realize neither of our grocery stores stocked them at all this year!

4 months ago
Reply to  Robin

Robin, I’ve never baked hot cross buns, but both my nephew and my former next-door neighbor have, and both times they were delicious. There are loads of recipes on the web, and they don’t need anything special or unusual. There are even some that are no-knead. If you do try any, I’d love you to let us know.