The humble Hot Cross Bun

The origins of the Hot Cross Bun dates back to 1361 in St Albans Abbey. This spicy bun was first baked by a Catholic monk, Thomas Ratcliffe , he marked each bun with a cross and they were distributed among the poor on Good Friday. It is interesting to note that St Albans Cathedral is the oldest church of christian worship in Britain.

So popular was this bun that the protestants saw it a threat to their church , it was thought to be made from the same consecrated dough used in making the communion wafer. Protestant England attempted to ban the sale of the bun and this caused an outcry as they were so popular among the people. Instead Queen Elizabeth I passed a law that bakers could only sell this bun on Easter Friday, Christmas and for Funerals.

I am sharing a Nemba Safaris Recipe that Isaac Sibanda and Joseph Ngwenya used to bake at Easter time. One of the hardest things to face with leaving Zimbabwe was having to say good bye to these wonderful men. They worked for Nemba Safaris for 35 years and were part of our family.

  • 480 grams of flour
  • 100 grams of caster sugar
  • 2 x 10 g dry yeast
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 orange zested
  • 1 cup raisons
  • 1 and 1/4 cups of milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Flour paste for the cross

  • 125g flour
  • 5 tablespoons of water

Glaze for the bun

  • 70ml Apricot Jam
  • 70ml Boiling water

preheat your oven at 200 degrees

In a bowl combine your flour with all your dry ingredients , flour, castor sugar, yeast, cinnamon, mixed spice, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, orange zest and raisons and mix .

In a pan add butter and melt – mix in milk.

Wisk eggs and vanilla together in a bowl

Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and add the egg and vanilla mixture with the butter and milk mixture. Using your hands mix into a dough. Kneed on a clean surface for 8 minutes and place in a bowl greased lightly with oil. Seal the bowl with cling film and place in a warm place for approximately one and a half hours or until the dough has doubled in size. Push the dough down to its original size and roll into 12 buns.

Place the buns on a baking tray and cover with cling film . Let the buns rise for another 30 minutes.

To make the flour paste, mix the flour and water until smooth and pipe with a plastic bag or piping bag a cross on each bun.

Place tray in the middle of the oven and turn down to 180 degrees. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. You can test with a tooth pick – it should come out clean.

Once the buns are out the oven wait for them to cool down to where they are warm and glaze with the glaze mixture.

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