Hot cross bun

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Hot cross bun
Homemade hot cross buns
TypeSpiced bun
Place of originUnited Kingdom
Region or stateEngland
Main ingredientsWheat flour, currants or raisins with spices

A hot cross bun is a spiced bun usually made with fruit, marked with a cross on the top, which has been traditionally eaten on Good Friday in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, India, Pakistan, Malta, United States and the Commonwealth Caribbean.[1][2][3] They are available all year round in some places, including the UK.[4][5]

The bun marks the end of the season of Lent and different parts of the hot cross bun have a certain meaning, including the cross representing the crucifixion of Jesus, the spices inside signifying the spices used to embalm him at his burial and sometimes also orange peel to reflect the bitterness of his time on the cross.[6][7]


The Greeks in the 6th century AD may have marked cakes with a cross.[8][9]

In the Christian tradition, the making of buns with a cross on them and consuming them after breaking the fast on Good Friday, along with "crying about 'Hot cross buns'", is done in order to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus.[10] It is hypothesised that the contemporary hot cross bun of Christianity derives at some distance from a bun developed in St Albans in England. There in 1361, Brother Thomas Rodcliffe, a Christian monk at St Albans Abbey, developed a similar recipe called an "Alban Bun" and distributed the bun to the poor on Good Friday.[11]

In 1592, during the reign of Elizabeth I of England, the London Clerk of Markets issued a decree forbidding the sale of hot cross buns and other spiced breads, 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, hot cross buns at the time were primarily made in domestic kitchens. Further attempts to suppress the sale of these items outside of these holy days took place during the reign of James I of England (1603–1625).[12]

The first definite record of hot cross buns comes from a London street cry: "Good Friday comes this month, the old woman runs. With one or two a penny hot cross buns", which appeared in Poor Robin's Almanac for 1733.[13] The line "One a penny, two a penny, hot cross-buns" appears in the English nursery rhyme "Hot Cross Buns" published in the London Chronicle for 2–4 June 1767.[14] Food historian Ivan Day states, "The buns were made in London during the 18th century. But when you start looking for records or recipes earlier than that, you hit nothing."[4]


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

English folklore includes many superstitions surrounding hot cross buns. One 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 who is ill is said to help them recover.[15]

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 fire and ensure that all breads turn out perfectly. The hanging bun is replaced each year.[15]

Other versions[edit]

In the United Kingdom, the major supermarkets produce variations on the traditional recipe such as toffee, orange-cranberry, salted caramel and chocolate, and apple-cinnamon.[16]

In Australia, recent variations of the Hot Cross Bun by major supermarkets have included chocolate chip, sour cherry, burger sauce, Iced VoVo, Pizza Shapes, Vegemite and cheese, jalapeño and cheese, and others.[17]

In Jamaica and some Commonwealth Caribbean islands, the hot cross bun has over time evolved into a spiced Easter bun with the addition of molasses, spices and a loaf shape.[18][19] This bun is eaten with cheese in islands such as Jamaica and Guyana and served with beverages such as Mauby or Ginger beer.[20]

In Slovakia and in the Czech Republic, mazanec is a similar cake or sweet bread eaten at Easter. It often has a cross marked on top.[21]

In South Africa, hot cross buns are typically eaten with pickled fish during the Easter season.

The cross[edit]

Hot cross bun, with a piped cross made from flour paste, cut in two and toasted

The traditional method for making the cross on top of the bun is to use shortcrust pastry,[22][23] though some 21st century recipes recommended a paste of flour and water.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Alexander, Deepa (10 April 2017). "Season's eatings". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 17 January 2022. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  2. ^ "Caribbean Easter meals to keep families together during covid-19 | Loop Caribbean News". Loop News. Retrieved 3 April 2023.
  3. ^ "Hot Cross Buns, A Caribbean Easter Tradition". Global Voices. 25 March 2016. Retrieved 3 April 2023.
  4. ^ a b Rohrer, Finlo (1 April 2010). "BBC - How did hot cross buns become two a penny?". BBC News. Archived from the original on 13 June 2018. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  5. ^ "Always a good time for hot cross buns | Coles". Coles. Archived from the original on 26 December 2021. Retrieved 27 December 2021.
  6. ^ Turner, Ina; Taylor, Ina (1999). Christianity. Nelson Thornes. p. 50. ISBN 9780748740871. To mark the end of the Lent fast Christians eat hot cross buns. These have a special meaning. The cross in the middle shows how Jesus died. Spices inside remind Christians of the spices put on the body of Jesus. Sweet fruits in the bun show that Christians no longer have to eat plain foods.
  7. ^ Fakes, Dennis R. (1 January 1994). Exploring Our Lutheran Liturgy. CSS Publishing. p. 33. ISBN 9781556735967. Since people often gave up meat during Lent, bread became one of the staples of Lent. Bakers even began making dough pretzels--a knotted length of dough that represented a Christian praying, with arms crossed and hands placed on opposite shoulders. Hot cross buns are popular during Lent. The cross of course reminds the eater of Christ's cross.
  8. ^ "Who Were The First To Cry "Hot Cross Buns?"". The New York Times. 31 March 1912. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
  9. ^ Elwes, Annunciata (13 April 2019). "Curious Questions: Why do we eat hot cross buns at Easter?". Country Life.
  10. ^ The Origin of the Fasts and Festivals of the Church. London: Thomas Hatton. 1843. p. 28.
  11. ^ "The City of St Albans Claims the Original Hot Cross Bun". St Albans Cathedral. Archived from the original on 16 March 2018. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
  12. ^ David, Elizabeth (1980). "Yeast Buns and Small Tea Cakes". English Bread and Yeast Cookery. New York: The Viking Press. pp. 473–474. ISBN 0670296538.
  13. ^ Charles Hindley (2011). "A History of the Cries of London: Ancient and Modern". p. 218. Cambridge University Press,
  14. ^ Encyclopedia of Easter Celebrations Worldwide. McFarland. 2021. p. 130.
  15. ^ a b "Hot Cross Buns". Practically Edible: The Web's Biggest Food Encyclopedia. Practically Edible. Archived from the original on 3 April 2009. Retrieved 9 March 2009.
  16. ^ Roxburgh, Lucy (13 February 2024). "Best hot cross buns, simnel cake and Easter desserts 2024". BBC Good Food. Archived from the original on 30 March 2024. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
  17. ^ Hrovat, Bianca (16 February 2024). "We taste-tested novelty hot cross buns so you don't have to (and Pizza Shapes weren't even the worst)". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 30 March 2024. Retrieved 30 March 2024.
  18. ^ Anne-Parkes, Tiffany (27 April 2022). "Perspective | Making Jamaican spiced bun for my mother was a final act of love". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Archived from the original on 30 March 2024. Retrieved 3 April 2023.
  19. ^ Hutchinson, Brittny (1 April 2021). "Supermarkets report mixed Easter bun sales". Jamaica Observer. Archived from the original on 30 March 2024. Retrieved 3 April 2023.
  20. ^ De Shong, Dillon (10 April 2020). "Caribbean Easter meals to keep families together during covid-19". carribbean.loopnews. Archived from the original on 30 March 2024. Retrieved 3 April 2023.
  21. ^ "Easter in Czech Republic". Iloveindia. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 7 December 2007.
  22. ^ Berry, Mary (1996). Mary Berry's Complete Cookbook (First edition (2nd reprint) ed.). Godalming, Surrey: Dorling Kindersley. p. 386. ISBN 1858335671.
  23. ^ Smith, Delia (1986). Delia Smith's Cookery Course (First edition (8th reprint) ed.). London: British Broadcasting Corporation. p. 62. ISBN 0563162619.
  24. ^ "The Great British Bake-off: Paul Holywood's Hot Cross Bun", Easy Cook (magazine), no. 60, p. 38, April 2013.