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Hot cross fun: all about the traditional Good Friday cake

Everything you always wanted to know about hot cross buns, but were afraid to ask.

Nice buns
Nice buns

Hot cross buns are best eaten fresh, but their history is anything but newly baked.

The springtime treats may have been around in some form since ancient Grecian times, when small loaves were baked to mark the spring, while the Egyptians marked their breads with a symbol of ox horns to celebrate a moon goddess. The Romans are also thought to have marked loaves with a cross, as did the pagan Saxons.

The tradition of eating hot cross buns on Good Friday appears to be a British one, dating back to at least the 16th century, when it was against the law for bakers to make the special dough apart from on specific days. Some historical accounts say the cross was marked on the buns to celebrate the holy day and the end in sight of the Lenten fast, while others say that bakers thought the cross might ward off evil spirits.

The BBC’s in-depth analysis comes to the same conclusion as many other studies into the history of hot cross buns though: it’s all a little hazy.

Poll: How do you eat yours?

The Guardian has suggested some alternative ways to enjoy your buns. What’s your perfect accompaniment?


Poll Results:

Toasted with butter (96)
Hot cross buns are vile (36)
Toasted with butter, but add some jam (28)
Make it savoury with some cheese (6)
It's Easter! Chocolate spread of course (5)





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About the author:

Emer McLysaght

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