... in hot cross buns

Published on 29 Mar 2021
Hot cross buns on a table with a cup of tea

I love seasonal traditions, and I'm keen on sticking to eating mince pies at Christmas and hot cross buns at Easter. If anyone offers me a chocolate egg before Easter I get a little annoyed. 

However, being such a stickler for seasons has left me with one odd problem. We make hot cross buns every year, and because they are only made once a year, I have very little opportunity to practice. Over the years we have had several intriguing mishaps with the recipe including famously using completely the wrong yeast (don't do this!) and waiting anxiously for the dough to rise, which it failed to. Another year we inexplicably had no flour to make the crosses and improvised using candied peel – tasty, but an unexpected marmalade taste was not quite right. Using cold milk instead of warm resulted in buns which failed to rise another year too, and therefore they had the texture of rock buns.... 

One year when my mother was still alive I convinced her that the crosses were meant to be made from marzipan (they are NOT) and we experimented using some almond paste. The result was delicious simnel-hot cross bun cross-over (no puns intended), but the crosses were molten from the heat of the oven, so hazardous to eat, (Mum said they were 'volcanic'). Another year I got up too late and had to leave one patient family member behind when we headed out for Maundy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper to wait for them to bake. It was either that or no hot cross buns! 

In short, they come out differently every year. I'd not say they are my nemesis (they are usually edible) but it seems to me that the hot cross buns were sent to teach me one important lesson in Christian life: humility. With all our forgetfulness, lack of preparedness, pride and occasional perfectionism, the Lord comes to us in all his divine humility to remind us that we are precious, and deserve saving.

My one tip for hot cross buns, as for the Christian life, is that it really does help if you read the recipe.