These days, Hot Cross Buns are enjoyed year-round, but centuries ago, they were eaten only during Lent, and especially on Good Friday. Historically, there are many legends associated with the white icing crosses on Hot Cross Buns. One maintains that the crosses ward off the devil and other evil spirits. Another legend, and the more popular, is that the icing cross symbolizes the wooden one carried by Jesus to his crucifixion.
This Palm Sunday, Central New Jersey Catholics will be joining Catholics and other Christians throughout the world in commemorating Jesus’s triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. Many churches will be holding special masses and services. If weather permits, there will be outdoor processions where congregants holding palm branches will recreate the spirit of the first Palm Sunday.
Holy Week, the church’s most somber week, begins on Palm Sunday. Serving Hot Cross Buns on Palm Sunday morning is a delicious way to begin a spiritually significant week.
You can find a recipe for traditional Hot Cross Buns here.
The following recipe for Hot Cross Buns substitutes chocolate chips for raisins and currants. Although preparation time is minimal, you should allow at least 2 hours total rising time. This recipe yields approximately 2 dozen Hot Cross Buns.
1 envelop active dry yeast
½ cup very warm water
1 stick butter, melted
2/3 cup milk (whole or evaporated) plus 2 tablespoons for icing
½ cup sugar
2 eggs for buns plus 1 egg for brushing tops of buns
1 cup chocolate chips
4 ½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon salt, sifted with the flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
1 cups confectioners’ sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla
1. Sprinkle yeast into water in a large bowl.
2. Stir until yeast dissolves. Set aside. While waiting for yeast mixture to bubble, continue to the next step.
3. Place melted butter, milk, sugar and salt in a small saucepan. Heat until all ingredients are dissolved. Cool mixture to lukewarm, then add to yeast mixture.
4. Beat the eggs and stir into yeast mixture.
5. Add chocolate chips
6. Stir 2 cups of the flour (with the salt) and the cinnamon and allspice into the yeast mixture. Beat until smooth, gradually stirring in the remaining flour. A standing mixer with a dough hook can be used for this step. The dough will be soft.
7. Knead dough on a lightly floured board until smooth and elastic. Add flour, as needed, to keep dough from sticking.
8. Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with clean towel. Let rise 1 hour or until double in bulk.
9. Punch dough down.
10. Tear off golf ball sized pieces of dough and roll them by hand. Place the dough balls side by side in a 9x9x2 baking dish.
11. Cover and let rise until double – about 45 minutes.
12. Beat the remaining egg and use it to brush the tops of the buns.
13. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and allow to cool.
14. Combine milk, sugar and vanilla in a small bowl. Drizzle icing over buns to make crosses.
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