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Hot Cross Buns

Amanda Koch DesignAssistant

By Mélanie Préfontaine-Darius – Communications

Growing up, I could hardly wait for the heavenly smell of freshly baked hot cross buns to fill the house at Easter. This was an annual family tradition in our home. And I loved it!

From where do hot cross buns originate?

There are many theories on the origin of the hot cross bun.

One theory dates back to the 12th century when an Anglican monk baked the buns at St Albans Abbey and called them the ‘Alban Bun’. He then distributed them to the poor on Good Friday.

They soon gained popularity around England and became a symbol of the Easter weekend. In 1582, the London clerk of markets issued a ban on the sale of the buns by bakers. This was because of superstitions that the buns carried medicinal or magical properties. Elizabeth I of England passed a law permitting them only to be sold at Easter and Christmas. The English got around this law by baking the buns at home and eventually the law was rescinded due to the popularity of the treat.

The first recorded reference to hot cross buns was in ‘Poor Robin Almanac‘ in the 1700s. It read: “Good Friday come this month, the old woman runs. With one or two a penny hot cross buns”.

What is the hot cross bun rhyme?

The English nursery rhyme was first published in a book called the Christmas Box in London, 1798. Some records claim that the rhyme was also a catch-call for street vendors selling buns around Easter time.

‘Hot cross buns, hot cross buns!
One ha’penny, two ha’penny, hot cross buns!
If you have no daughters, give them to your sons,
One ha’penny, two ha’penny, hot cross buns!’

Traditional Hot Cross Buns


Hot Cross Buns Recipe


9 Buns

Ready In:

2hr:20min including rising & baking

Good For:

Easter Morning



1 Cup  Milk, scalded

1/3  Cup Sugar

¼ Cup Water, warm

1 package  Dry yeast (1 tbsp)

½ Cup Raisins

1 tsp  Allspice

½ tsp Salt, Himalayan

1 Egg

2 tsp  Cinnamon, Ceylon (“True Cinnamon”)

3 ½ Cups Flour

¼ Cup Butter, melted


1 Egg white

1 Tbsp Sugar

1 tsp Vanilla


1. In a small bowl, dissolve 1 Tbsp of the sugar in warm water and sprinkle in the yeast; let stand for 10 minutes or until frothy. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, blend together the remaining sugar, flour, cinnamon, allspice and salt. Make a well in the center.

2. Whisk together the milk, butter, egg and egg yolk and pour into the well. Pour in the yeast mixture and with a wooden spoon, stir until soft dough forms.

3. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease all over. Cover with a plastic wrap and let rise in a warm draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about an 1 hour.

4. Punch down dough; turn out onto lightly floured surface. Knead in the raisins and shape into a 12-inch log; with serrated knife, cut into 9 pieces. Shape each into a ball, stretching and pinching dough underneath to make tops smooth. Always keep the raisins covered.

5. Place 2 inches apart on a greased baking sheet or on parchment paper. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 35 minutes and cut cross. Bake in center of 400F oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. At the last minute mark, brush on 1 egg white; 2 Tbsp of sugar and 1 tsp of vanilla.

easter display of hot cross buns copy

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