Hot cross buns are always pretty hot this time of year. Alongside chocolate bunnies, these buns shine in the lead up to Easter.
They're sweet, soft, leavened buns, often with currants, dried fruit, flavoured with spices and marked with an icing-style cross and usually enjoyed with a nice slab of butter. So, what is it about these buns that makes them such a hit?
For many, the humble hot cross bun goes beyond any other sweet bread. They're held high on a pedestal and have a pretty established rep. So it comes as no surprise that where you buy them, how you enjoy them and most certainly when they're available, comes into play.
And whilst for some the big decision is whether to toast bun or not, others are taking the humble hot cross to a deliciously creative space.
Food and belief for many are heavily intertwined and the fact is bread has held ritual and celebratory characteristics for centuries. The spiced bun itself, known as the St Albans bun, has been on the rise since medieval times and the 'crossed bun' is said to have come about after a 12th-century monk marked buns leading up to Good Friday. The Saxons are said to have eaten the buns marked with crosses in honour of the goddess of spring and fertility, Eostre.
Enter Queen Elizabeth I
The hot cross bun was seen as a superstitious symbol possessing medicinal powers, and so Queen Elizabeth I kept them sacred by enacting a law allowing people to only enjoy hot cross buns on Good Friday, Christmas or at funerals.
Are you superstitious?
You're in luck. Baking hot cross buns on Good Friday was said to be for superstitious reasons; it was said they wouldn't grow mould or go stale for a whole year. Many also saw these buns as a symbol of protection and friendship. The English believed that hanging a crossed bun in the house would protect them from negative or evil spirits and hanging them in the kitchen would mean successful baking for the year as well as preventing any kitchen disasters or fires.
What is claimed to be the oldest hot cross bun can be found in a home in Essex, England - it is said to have been baked more than 213 years ago.
The world's largest hot cross bun was baked by Greenhalgh's Bakery, Bolton and was unveiled at The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Saltholme wildlife reserve back in April 2012. With a team of five professional bakers, over a whole day, with over 65 kilograms of flour and loads of currants to boot, the final bun weighs in at 168 kilograms, the equivalent of over 2000 regular hot cross buns.
Are you the chosen 'bun'?
Make 'em while they’re hot - classic, chocolate, citrus or cookie - these hot cross stunners are homemade genius!
1. What a stud!
2. Ol' faithful
These spice-laden buns make a superb breakfast bun.
With the right combination of fruit and spice, homemade buns can be so easy and this fruity version calls on a mixed peel for added zing.
When the bun gets a makeover we look to the cookie! This fun and crumbly cookie is ultra festive this time of year.
Native food specialist Rebecca Sullivan transforms this oldie into an oh, so goodie by incorporating finger limes, lemon myrtle and riberries. Get the recipe here.
And #ICYMI Vegemite has released their own cheesy-mite hot cross bun version. Who's in?
For more tips and treats check out our Easter recipe collection right here.