Every year on Good Friday my son and I make hot cross buns.
The tradition began when he was barely big enough to stand on a chair and scoop flour. In those days, baking together was a way into learning and a celebration of the senses. We counted cups and teaspoons, smelled all the spices and called them by name, examined the wrinkles on the raisins, nibbled at the citrus peel, marveled at the foaming yeast and wondered how something so small can have the power to transform a whole batch of dough.
Our efforts almost always made a mess, but the results were worth it. Not only were the hot cross buns delicious (and great for sharing with the neighbours), there was pleasure and satisfaction in making something with our own hands. Waiting for the dough to rise developed patience. And punching it down was just plain fun!
Like many of our other traditions—picking apples in the fall, cutting paper snowflakes at Christmas, making pretzels during Lent—this simple activity helped define a cycle of seasons. Travelling through this cycle every year stirred anticipation, cultivated the art of waiting, and created a sense of order and rhythm that many children find reassuring.
We’ve been at it for thirteen years now.
A few days ago, as he was measuring the raisins for the hot cross buns, my son began to chuckle to himself. When I asked him what was so funny, he reminded me of the time I accidentally replaced the currants with some outrageously expensive dried blueberries I had bought for a salad to take to a potluck dinner. We both dissolved into laughter, recalling how we had stood over the mixing bowl, up to our elbows in flour, trying to salvage all those blueberries.
Maybe you had to be there.
But the point is, he remembers. He remembers, because making those hot cross buns has become part of the rhythm of his life, a container for memory. Each time we dig out the recipe and follow those familiar steps, we remember all the other times.
Sometimes that makes us laugh. Sometimes it makes us cry. But it always makes us thankful for all the little ways our lives are woven together.
Here is our recipe. We hope you enjoy it.
Best Ever Hot Cross Buns Recipe
4 cups flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. cloves
3/4 cup raisins (or currants)
1/2 cup peel
1-1/4 cups very warm water
1 tbsp. traditional yeast
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp. soft butter (or shortening)
1 egg, beaten
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Proof the yeast by combining it with 1 tsp. white sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup of warm water. Let it sit for 10 minutes until the yeast foams up.
To the remaining water, add salt, brown sugar, butter (or shortening) and egg. Stir to combine. Once the yeast mixture is frothy, stir it into the other liquid ingredients and mix well.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, spices, raisins and peel. Make a well in the centre and pour in the liquid. Stir until combined, then knead well into a smooth ball, sprinkling with flour as necessary.
Place in a greased bowl, cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap, and allow to rise (in a warm place) until doubled.
Punch down the dough, cut it into eight pieces of equal size, and form into buns (the recipe makes eight large buns, but you could cut them smaller). Cover and let rise until doubled again.
Bake at 350F for 15 to 20 minutes. When cool, decorate with crosses of butter icing.
Author: Laura Alary Google
Here are some of other Favourite Recipes! Please feel free to try them and comment on them as well.