Stray Foodie recipes: The classic Easter Hot Cross Bun


Last updated Mar 31, 2021

Foodie Lockdown Recipes are written by Michelin-starred chef, Frances Atkins. In 1997, Frances opened the Yorke Arms near Pateley Bridge, where she was the owner for 20 years. During her ownership, she held her Michelin-star status for 16 of those years.

“I’ll be bringing you some of my favourite recipes each week. I’d love to see how you make the recipes your own – let me know by using #StrayFoodie or tagging @thestrayferret in your social media posts.”

Good Friday is a day to eat Hot Cross Buns!

It is said that Monks baked Hot Cross Buns on Good Friday, hence the cross on this spiced bun as a symbol of the celebration of celebration.  It was also said that if you hung a Hot Cross Bun from your kitchen rafters on Good Friday the bread would remain fresh and mould free throughout the whole year.  The cross was supposed to expel bad spirits and people who shared a Hot Cross Bun were to enjoy a close friendship and bond for the forth coming year.

It was Elizabeth the 1st who decreed that Hot Cross Buns should only be sold on Good Friday and no other day.  While all this is superstition and legend, what is interesting is traditionally in this country high days and holidays are celebrated by spice in our food.  So considered a treat!

Unfortunately supermarkets have started making these ‘treats’ available all the year round so therefore a confusion has arisen over when we would like to eat them.  I would suggest by making them ourselves it adds a sense of occasion and enjoyment for the family on ‘the day’.

So at Easter we would expect to eat for Breakfast on Good Friday a freshly boiled chicken’s egg with onion skin in the water to turn the shell of the egg yellow and then paint a face on it followed by a warm Hot Cross Buns.  In your Hot Cross Bun you might like to put chocolate, marmalade or cheese to name but a few additives!

On Easter Saturday is a time to consume all those lovely chocolate eggs and great celebrations on the Easter Sunday with Simnel Cake – ‘Apostle Cake’.  This is a fruit cake with marzipan running through the centre and a ball of marzipan on top to represent an Apostle.  Please note, no icing!  (Icing is just for Christmas..)

But once again mixed spices run through all these food and by making your own you can determine how spicy you would like these delicious buns to be. Ginger, Mixed Spice, Cinnamon, Fennel Seeds, Nigella Seeds – get experimenting!

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You will need to make approx. 12 Buns

300g Strong Bread Flour

6g Table Salt

1 Teaspoon of Mixed Spice

300g Softened Butter

45g Soft Brown Sugar

Zest of 1 Lemon

5g Dried Yeast

1 Egg

100ml Warm Milk

25g Mixed Peel

50g Currents

Mix the dried yeast with the warm milk and allow to stand. Beat in the egg and sugar. Sieve in the flour, salt, mixed spice and add in the softened butter. Add the zest of lemon and sugar. Mix well.

Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film and prove for one hour after which add the currents and mixed peel.

Knock back and knead well. Make the mixture into 60g balls and put on a baking tray lined with silicone to prove.

When they start to prove mix 300g flour with 300g water and place in a piping bag and pipe a cross on the top each bun. Leave to continue proving until doubled in size. This proving time will depend on the warmth of your kitchen – it doesn’t need to be too hot!

Cook at 180c – 190c for 20 minutes.

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