Making Hot Cross Buns
Originally these were very plain buns with a cross made out of dough across the top; they were eaten on Good Friday. Now the buns are sometimes filled with fruits and nuts, then topped with a cross made of frosting. They are often eaten throughout Lent, as well as on Easter.
As you make these buns with the children, tell them how the bread of sorrow became the sweet bread of celebration. While you’re working, if you know the old street vendor’s “Hot Cross Buns” call, teach it to them. You can find a lively version here.
To make hot cross buns, use your favorite basic sweet bread recipe, or go online to find one. You can also use frozen bread dough, defrosted. Whatever dough you use, while you are kneading, you can add either candied fruit or dried apricots and raisins, steamed soft and (for the apricots) cut into small pieces; you can include chopped walnuts, too, if the children like nuts, and flavor the dough with a teaspoon of allspice or cinnamon. Dough made with four cups of flour will make about 20 buns. After the dough has gone through one rising, punch it down and have the children shape it into smooth balls,. Set them two inches apart on a greased baking sheet and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand or the bottom of a glass or mug. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Let the buns rise until double in bulk, brush with a wash made of an egg yolk beaten with a tablespoon of milk or cream, then bake for about 12 minutes. Remove to wire cooling racks and -- after they are cool -- draw a cross on each bun using a simple confectioners sugar frosting (a cup of powdered sugar, a tablespoon of cold milk, and a teaspoon of vanilla). Note: if you try to put the frosting crosses on while the buns are still hot, the frosting will melt and slide off. Hard as it is to wait, do let them cool before frosting! Then eat and enjoy!