Hot Cross Buns are traditionally served in many countries on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and often even on Easter morning. They are a must-have tradition in our home each Easter weekend.
They are delicious and a great reminder of the real meaning of Easter. My version has a little twist to them, adding in the delicious taste of London Fog (Earl Grey Lattes) to them. YUM!
How did hot cross buns become “a thing”?
It said that this type of bun may date back to ancient times but legend has it that back in the 12th century, an Anglican monk decided to make a batch of these buns and mark them with a cross in honor of Good Friday.
They became more popular during the Elizabethan age when Queen Elizabeth I created a law saying that sweet buns could only be sold for funerals, Christmas and Good Friday.
There was a superstition that the buns had magical properties and so the sale of them was limited to keep these “powers” from being misused. People started making their own at home to get around the law and they rose in popularity.
More Superstitions about Hot Cross Buns
It’s said that if you bake hot cross buns on Good Friday, you can hang some from the rafters of your home to ward off evil spirits in the year to come. Supposedly, these buns would stay mold-free for the entire year because it was a symbol of Jesus’ body remaining in perfect condition with no decay after his crucifixion and before his Resurrection.
The bun was to be replaced with a freshly baked one each Good Friday. Sometimes, once taken down, the buns were broken up and mixed with water to use as medicine.
Women would also bake the buns that day and send some with their husbands before heading off to sea to protect them from shipwrecks. Another legend states that a hot cross bun shared between loved ones promises friendship in the coming year. An old poem goes, “Half for you and half for me, between us two, good luck shall be.”
LONDON FOG HOT CROSS BUNS
Don’t think you have to restrict yourself to having these delicious sweet buns only at Easter. After all, we’re not living in Elizabethan times anymore!
Double or triple the recipe. Make the recipe as usual, stopping just short of baking them. Place the unbaked buns in the freezer. Any time you are craving some, you can grab them, even one at a time and pop it in the oven.
London Fog Hot Cross Buns
Traditional Hot Cross Buns with a twist – these sweet buns have the delicious flavor of a London Fog (Earl Grey Latte) in them.
- 1 cup milk
- 4 tea bags Earl Grey
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tbsp orange juice
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 pkg dry yeast
- 3 1/2 cups flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1 cup flour
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 egg well beaten
Heat the milk until scalding. Steep the tea in the hot milk.
Let the milk cool until lukewarm. Mix in the sugar, egg, lemon juice, orange juice, and butter until well blended.
Stir in the yeast.
Add 2 1/2 c. of the flour, the salt, lemon zest, and orange zest, and beat together well.
Cover the bowl, place in a warm spot, and leave to rise for an hour.
Add the raisins and knead into the bread.
As you knead, add as much of the remaining flour as needed to make a smooth elastic dough.
Form into a ball and place in a covered buttered bowl in a warm place to rise until it doubles in size.
Punch the dough down. Divide the dough and form into 12 buns.
Place the buns in a greased pan with at least an inch in between each one.
Cut a cross in the top of each bun. You can leave them as is and skip straight to glazing and baking right here or you can make the flour and sugar paste for a more prominent cross shape.
If using the paste for the cross: ix together the 1 cup of flour and 2 tbsp of sugar with water to form a thick paste.
It should take about ½-3/4 cup of water, but only add 1-2 tbsp at a time until you get the right consistency.
If you keep it a bit thinner, you can use a piping bag to pipe it into the cross.
If it’s thicker, you can simply form “snakes” of the paste/dough and place them in the cross shapes of the buns.
Brush the top of each bun with the beaten egg. If you like a sweeter bun, some people like to warm up/melt some apricot jam and thin it a bit with water in place of the egg glaze.
Let rise again until double in size.
Bake in a 375 degree F oven for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
Variations on These Buns
If you would prefer to make more traditional Hot Cross Bun recipe, simply omit the Earl Grey tea. Other changes you can make according to your preferences include:
- Using all lemon juice and zest or all orange juice and zest in place of the mixture.
- In place of some or all of the raisins, you could use dried cranberries and/or candied ginger.
- Add in 1 tbsp of pumpkin pie spice.
- Mix in 1 apple, finely chopped.
How to Serve Hot Cross Buns
I think they’re delicious just as they are but I’ve got some other yummy ideas for you too. Cut them in half lengthwise and toast. Use butter, honey butter, apricot jam, blackberry jam, or marmalade on them. You can even use them as the bread in French toast.