Catholic Recipe: Hot Cross Buns I
In certain places this day is observed by so strict a fast that it is often called the Black Fast, because many do not eat at all until sundown. However, one article of food is intimately associated with and eaten on this day, and that is the Hot Cross Bun.
Hot Cross Buns originated in England, and more than one nursery rhyme and ballad contain references to them. Saffron plays a part in the better-class English Hot Cross Bun, but as a rule they are small and plain, well browned and with icing on top in the form of a cross.
There were many superstitions concerning this bun. In some families one was put aside and kept during the following year. If someone fell ill, a little of the bun was grated into water and given to the sick person to aid his recovery.
And so much has this bread become a symbol of friendship that if two people break a bun between them and eat it, the English tradition runs:
Half for you and half for me,
Between us two shall goodwill be.
Perhaps if the warring nations, the ones for whom Good Friday was once a holy day observed by the Truce of God, and the ones to whom it still represents a basic fact in the life of the spirit, could be persuaded to break a Good Friday bun instead of each other's heads, the world might again progress in amity and friendship. They might all know Him again in the breaking of bread.
These hot cross buns would be a great treat to serve on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, since the cross on the top of the bun reminds us of the feast.
Soften the yeast in the lukewarm water. Scald milk, add sugar and shortening, and cool. Add the beaten egg, the yeast, citron, raisins, and the flour sifted with the salt. Knead and let rise to double its bulk. Shape into buns, place on greased baking sheet, and let rise until light. Brush with a little milk and bake at 375° F. for about twenty minutes. When done, cover with powdered sugar in the shape of a cross or do the same with a thin icing.Recipe Source: Feast Day Cookbook by Katherine Burton and Helmut Ripperger, David McKay Company, Inc., New York, 1951