Traditionally eaten on Good Friday, hot cross buns are a popular tradition for Easter weekend.
A lightly spiced bread often filled with raisins or dried fruit, hot cross buns have no sweet filling because Lent is a penitential season. The white icing on top is always in the shape of a cross as a reminder that Easter soon will be here.
Some believe hot cross buns originated in England some 300 or 400 years ago.
Food historian C. Anne Wilson, in "Food and Drink in Britain,” writes that "the special association of hot cross buns with Good Friday began only after the Reformation."
Before then, it was customary in England to mark all loaves with a cross before they went into the oven to ward off evil spirits that might prevent the bread from rising. Even though the practice was eventually abandoned, bakers continued to retain the cross for the Easter holidays because of its religious significance.
Over the past few centuries, the custom of enjoying hot cross buns throughout the Lenten season has become popular for Christians worldwide.
Each bakery seems to have a slightly different recipe. Some bakeries flavor their buns with a blend of raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg and orange peel. Other bakeries may add candied fruit instead of raisins. In Australia, a chocolate version is popular.
Hot cross buns are not very difficult to make. The hardest part is keeping the dough at the right temperature to keep the yeast active.
If you'd rather let your favorite bakery do the work for you, be sure to place your order ahead for Easter weekend.
This is Jennifer Chandler with The Weekly Dish. Happy Easter!