History lesson: Hot Cross Buns

Hot cross buns have been my Easter tradition as long as I can remember.

Although they are now more widely available, during my childhood they would only appear for a couple of weeks each year – where I would happily gobble up as many as possible.

 

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These spiced buns are one of the few cross-marked breads these days, but there was a time when most breads were marked this way. It was believed that the cross would ward off evil spirits and keep the bread from going mouldy.

When the Puritans stepped into England during the 1600s, the common practice of marking crosses on baked goods was declared as ‘Catholic’ behaviour and subsequently outlawed except for certain exceptions (Good Friday, Christmas and burials).

With these new restrictions, they evolved into a typical Good Friday breakfast, and became known as Good Friday Buns. 

By the 1700s, the buns had evolved yet again into a popular street food and were being sold in the cities with the catch cry ‘One-a-penny, two-a-penny, hot cross buns’.

 

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