The origins of this very English custom are not entirely clear. It has been suggested that hot cross buns originated in the pagan cult that preceded Christianity in Britain. But the earliest historical mention of them is traced to a 12th century English monk who is said to have marked buns with the sign of the cross in honor of Good Friday. A 14th century record tells how a monk of St. Albans distributed spiced cakes to the needy on Good Friday, inaugurating an annual tradition, though he carefully guarded his recipe.
There are various recipes for the buns, but an authentic recipe should include currants and a cross either incised on the top of the buns or painted on with a sweet glaze. Here’s a recipe to make your own hot cross buns.
Hot cross buns! Hot cross buns! One a penny, two a penny, Hot cross buns!
Hot cross buns! Hot cross buns! If you haven’t any daughters, Give them to your sons! One a penny, two a penny, Hot cross buns!
Hot cross buns! Hot cross buns! If you haven’t got a penny A ha’penny will do. If you haven’t got a ha’penny, Well God bless you.
- with gratitude to Sharon Pearson