Hot cross bun

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This article is about the food. For the nursery rhyme, see Hot Cross Buns.
Hot cross bun
Homemade Hot Cross Buns.jpg
Homemade hot cross buns
Type Spiced bun
Place of origin Great Britain
Main ingredients currants or raisins
Cookbook:Hot cross bun  Hot cross bun

A hot cross bun is a spiced sweet bun made with currants or raisins and marked with a cross on the top, traditionally eaten on Good Friday in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, the Caribbean, South Africa, India, and Canada, and now available all year round in some places.[1] Hot cross buns may go on sale in Australia and New Zealand as early as New Year's Day[2] or after Christmas.[3]


In many historically countries, plain buns made without dairy products (forbidden in Lent until Palm Sunday) are traditionally eaten hot or toasted during Lent, beginning with the evening of Shrove Tuesday (the evening before Ash Wednesday) to midday Good Friday.

The ancient Greeks may have marked cakes with a cross.[4]

In the time of Elizabeth I of England (1592), the London Clerk of Markets issued a decree forbidding the sale of hot cross buns and other spiced breads,[why?] except at burials, on Good Friday, or at Christmas. The punishment for transgressing the decree was forfeiture of all the forbidden product to the poor. As a result of this decree, hot cross buns at the time were primarily made in home kitchens. Further attempts to suppress the sale of these items took place during the reign of James I of England/James VI of Scotland (1603–1625).[5]


English folklore includes many superstitions surrounding hot cross buns. One of them says that buns baked and served on Good Friday will not spoil or grow mouldy during the subsequent year. Another encourages keeping such a bun for medicinal purposes. A piece of it given to someone ill is said to help them recover.[6]

An 1884 advertisement announcing the sale of hot cross buns for Good Friday in a Hawaiian newspaper.

Sharing a hot cross bun with another is supposed to ensure friendship throughout the coming year, particularly if "Half for you and half for me, Between us two shall goodwill be" is said at the time, so some say they should only be cooked one at a time. Because there is a cross on the buns, some say they should be kissed before being eaten.[citation needed] If taken on a sea voyage, hot cross buns are said to protect against shipwreck. If hung in the kitchen, they are said to protect against fires and ensure that all breads turn out perfectly. The hanging bun is replaced each year.[6]

Other versions[edit]

In the United Kingdom, the major supermarkets produce variations on the traditional recipe such as toffee, orange-cranberry, and apple-cinnamon.[1]

In Australia and New Zealand, a chocolate version of the bun has become popular; coffee-flavoured buns are also sold in some Australian bakeries.[7] They generally contain the same mixture of spices, but chocolate chips are used instead of currants. There are also fruit-less, sticky date and caramel versions, as well as mini versions of the chocolate and traditional bun.[8]

In the Czech Republic, mazanec is a similar cake or sweet bread eaten at Easter. It often has a cross marked on top.[9]

The cross[edit]

The traditional method for making the cross on top of the bun is to use shortcrust pastry;[10][11] however, more recently recipes have recommended a paste consisting of flour and water.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Rohrer, Finlo (1 April 2010). "BBC - How did hot cross buns become two a penny?". BBC News. Retrieved 26 April 2014. 
  2. ^ "Hot Cross Buns on sale already". 4 January 2012. Retrieved 28 December 2013. 
  3. ^ Dodd, Kate (3 January 2014). "Easter's come early: hot cross buns already on shelves". The Toowoomba Chronicle. Retrieved 30 April 2014. 
  4. ^ "Who Were The First To Cry "Hot Cross Buns?"". The New York Times. 31 March 1912. Retrieved 4 May 2010. 
  5. ^ David, Elizabeth (1980). "Yeast Buns and Small Tea Cakes". English Bread and Yeast Cookery. New York: The Viking Press. pp. 473–474. ISBN 0670296538. 
  6. ^ a b "Hot Cross Buns". Practically Edible: The Web's Biggest Food Encyclopedia. Practically Edible. Retrieved 9 March 2009. 
  7. ^ "Easter Baking: Hot Cross Buns". 24 March 2008. Retrieved 26 March 2008. 
  8. ^ "Yummy Hot Cross Buns". Woolworths (Australia). Retrieved 30 April 2014. 
  9. ^ "Easter in Czech Republic". Retrieved 7 December 2007. 
  10. ^ Berry, Mary (1996). Mary Berry's Complete Cookbook (First edition (2nd reprint) ed.). Godalming, Surrey: Dorling Kindersley. p. 386. ISBN 1858335671. 
  11. ^ Smith, Delia (1986). Delia Smith's Cookery Course (First edition (8th reprint) ed.). London: British Broadcasting Corporation. p. 62. ISBN 0563162619. 
  12. ^ "The Great British Bake-off: Paul Holywood's Hot Cross Bun", Easy Cook (magazine) (60), April 2013: 38