Easter Cakes – Cross Hot Buns (bread machine)

Hot cross buns! // Hot cross buns! // One a penny, two a penny. // Hot cross buns! // If you have no daughters, // Give them to your sons! // One a penny, two a penny. // Hot cross buns!”  Every copy of Nursery Rhymes we ever owned included this silly and seemingly nonsensical rhyme.  “One a penny, two a penny,”  what does it even mean?  Every time I read it, I wondered What are these hot cross bunsAre they really hot?  Would I like them?  And who would choose to have one for a penny, if you can have two? 
 
Every copy of Nursery Rhymes we ever bought included a rhyme called Hot Cross Buns.   And every time we read it I wondered.... what are these buns?  would I like them?  are they really hot?

Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore and looked it up. Turned out that Hot Cross Buns are sweet Easter cakes, traditionally eaten during Lent, and particularly enjoyed on Good Friday.  “Good Friday comes this month, the old woman runs, with one or two a penny hot cross buns.”  One big bun for a penny or two small ones (that makes more sense).  
 
Hot cross buns have come a long way, at least since 79 CE (year 79 Common Era).  According to one of my favorite reference books Holiday Symbols and Customs, the first evidence comes from an ancient Italian city of Herculaneum, which was buried under volcanic ash and lava since 79 CE.  Two small buns with a cross on it were found among the ruins.  (I don’t know about you but writing this gives me goosebumps.  Imagine a city buried under lava and two little buns resting under the debris waiting for a chance to come out and tell their story.  For me it’s more fascinating than a good ghost story).  Much later when the pagan Festival of Spring became Easter, many pagan customs and practices were reinterpreted to give them a new meaning, so cross on the buns began to symbolize the crucifixion of Christ. 

So many centuries later and Hot Cross Buns are still as delicious. Take my word for it.  We made these little buns today and they are already gone.  I am making another batch right now. This one without raisins (per kids’ request).  The recipe comes from a little brochure that came with my bread machine, hence, it’s a bread machine recipe.  The distinctive feature of Hot Cross Buns is a cross made of icing on top.  I have little children who like to “help,” so our crosses are hard to see on some buns and they are non-existent on others; we are ok with that.  Those cakes are very easy to make.  And, if you have a bread machine, give them a try.  

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Hot Cross Buns (aka Easter Cakes)

Ingredients
1 egg
1 egg yolk
3/4 cup skim milk
1/3 cup butter
5 tablespoons sugar (We love organic coconut palm sugar)
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon or lime rind, grated
1 teaspoon lemon flavor
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon yeast
1/2 cup raisins or 1/2 cup candied fruit (optional)

Glaze
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

 
Easter Cakes: Hot Cross Buns, Hot Cross buns... (bread machine recipe)
Directions

  1. Put all ingredients except fruit into bread machine.  Set for dough.  Add fruit when the bread machine alerts you.
  2. When dough is ready, remove and punch down. 
     Easter Cakes: Hot Cross Buns, Hot Cross Buns... (bread machine recipe)
     
  3. Lightly oil pan.  One 9×13 for all of them, or in my case I used three small pans so that I could bake everything in my toaster oven. 
  4. Cut into 16-24 pieces.
  5. Roll each into a ball.
  6. Place balls 1/2″ apart in pan, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in warm place until doubled (about 1 hour). 
     Easter Cakes: Hot Cross Buns, Hot Cross Buns... (bread machine recipe)
     
  7. Cut a cross into the top with a sharp knife.
     Easter Cakes: Hot Cross Buns, Hot Cross Buns... (bread machine recipe) 
  8. Bake 12 minutes @ 375F. 
  9. Make a glaze mixing sugar, milk and lemon together.  Add more sugar, if needed.  You want a glaze that is like a drizzle but it shouldn’t be too runny. 
  10. Let cakes cool slightly and drizzle the icing into the cuts. 
     Easter Cakes: Hot Cross Buns, Hot Cross Buns... (bread machine recipe)
 
Have you ever tried Hot Cross Buns?  

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