HOT CROSS BUNS
Lore / Recipe / Bread Machine Recipe

LORE

On Good Friday, it is the custom in Britain to eat round, fruit-filled buns with a cross decoration on top. The combination of cross and round bun recalls the pre-christian Celtic Cross, which represented the union of male and female. The phallic cross within the yonic circle would be appropriate for this time of fertility (Spring). Hot cross buns are descendants of the cakes offered by the Greeks to goddesses Artemis and Hecate. These cakes were round symbolizing the Full Moon, and were decorated with horns that formed a cross-shape and represented the four quarters of the lunar cycle.

Hot-cross buns are eaten throughout the spring season, but in ancient Babylon the Chaldeans used to offer them to the queen of heaven (Ishtar) on the day now known as Good Friday. The ancient Greeks made similar wheat cakes marked with a cross or "horns", called a "bous", in honor of Apollo, Diana, Hecate and the moon (the latter also being Diana's symbol).

The cross represents the four seasons, or the four phases of the moon, and are on the sacrificial bread of the lunar goddesses of many cultures. They are found from Egypt to the Aztecs of Mexico. A circle with a cross (the female symbol) was often set up on top of a pillar (representing the male)-the whole representing union or fertility. It is also interesting that the biological symbol for female remains a circle with a cross beneath (the symbol for Venus).

Hot cross buns were also believed to last twelve months without turning mouldy, which was of great use during Pagan times when the storage of food was imperative for survival. It was believed that they would protect against evil forces and fire if hung in the kitchen. Sailors believed that hot cross buns would protect against shipwreck if taken to sea. Farmers in certain parts of England (UK) also believed that they would protect the granary against rats.

RECIPE

HOT CROSS BUNS

This recipe will make 2 1/2 dozen buns.

2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 cup warm milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup softened butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 1/2 to 7 cups all-purpose flour
4 eggs
1/2 cup dried currents
1/2 cup raisins

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2 Tablespoons water
1 egg yolk

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1 recipe Icing (below)

Have the water and milk at 110-115 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Add the warm milk sugar, butter, vanilla, salt, nutmeg, and 3 cups of the flour. Beat until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating the mixture well after each addition. Stir in the dried fruit and enough flour to make a soft dough.

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and turn over to grease the top. Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 1 hour).

Punch the dough down and shape into 30 balls. Place on greased baking sheets. Using a sharp knife, cut a cross (or X) on the top of each roll.

Cover again and let rise until doubled (about 30 minutes). Beat the water and egg yolk together and brush over the rolls. Bake at 375-degrees F. for 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire racks. Drizzle icing over the top of each roll following the lines of the cut cross.

ICING: Combine 1 cup confectioners' sugar, 4 teaspoons milk or cream, a dash of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract. Stir until smooth. Adjust sugar and milk to make a mixture which flows easily.

BREAD MACHINE RECIPE

HOT CROSS BUNS
(for breadmaker)

3/4 cup warm water
3 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. skim milk powder
1/4 cup sugar
3/8 tsp. salt
1 egg + 1 egg white
3 cups flour
1 Tbsp. yeast

Put ingredients in bread maker and start on dough program. When 5 minutes of kneading are left, add 3/4 cup currants and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Leave in machine till double.

Punch down on floured surface, cover, and let rest 10 minutes. Shape into 12 balls and place in a greased 9 x 12 inch pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place till double, about 35-40 minutes.

Mix 1 egg yolk and 2 Tbsp. water. Brush on balls. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from pan immediately and cool on wire rack.

Make crosses with:

1/2 cup icing sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1/2 - 1 Tbsp. milk.


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