Hot Cross Buns – Are BIG business



The incredible popularity of Hot Cross Buns has endured through a long and illustrious history spanning eight centuries and, even in a modern, secular society, remains big business.

On the first day of Lent and during the six weeks that follow up to Easter, many bakeries and Christian homes make Hot Cross Buns. They are generally only served during the Lenten season, preserving their Christian significance and traditionally prepared on Good Friday.

Hot Cross Buns were traditionally served during the Lenten Season, especially on Good Friday. Their origins, however, like the Easter holiday, are mixed with pagan traditions.

 The cross represented the four quarters of the moon to certain ancient cultures, while others believed it was a sign that held supernatural power to prevent sickness. To the Romans, the cross represented the horns of a sacred ox. The word ‘bun’ is derived from the ancient word ‘boun’, used to describe this revered animal. The Christian church adopted Hot Cross Buns during their early missionary efforts to pagan cultures. They re-interpreted the “cross” of icing which adorns the bun to signify the cross.”

Some historians date the origin of Hot Cross Buns back to the 12th century, when an Anglican monk was said to have placed the sign of the cross on the buns to honour Good Friday, known at that time as the ‘Day of the Cross’. In 1361, a monk named Father Thomas Rocliffe was recorded to have made small spiced cakes stamped with the sign of the cross, to be distributed to the poor visiting the monastery at St. Albans on Good Friday. According to the scholar Harrowven, the idea proved so popular that he made the buns every year, carefully keeping his bun recipe secret.


According to tradition, Hot Cross Buns were the only food allowed to be eaten by the faithful on Good Friday. Made from dough kneaded for consecrated bread used at Mass or Holy Communion, and thus representative of Christ’s body, Hot Cross Buns were also credited for miraculous healing and for protection.


Throughout the years, Hot Cross Buns baked on Good Friday were used in powdered form to treat all sorts of illnesses.

In addition, many families hung the buns from their kitchen ceilings to protect their households from evil for the year to come. The tradition, however, suffered attack during the 16th century. During Queen Elizabeth I’s reign, when Roman Catholicism was banned, ‘backward-lookers’ were reportedly tried for Popery for signing the cross on their Good Friday buns. The accused often claimed that it was necessary to mark a cross on the dough, to ensure that the buns would rise. However, the popularity of the buns prevailed, and the Queen resorted to passing a law which limited the bun’s consumption to proper religious ceremonies, such as Christmas, Easter or funerals.


There are some other interesting superstitions surrounding Hot Cross Buns. Many believe that the Hot Cross Buns baked on Good Friday will not mould.

Also, it is believed that if you hang these buns in your kitchen, then they will protect the kitchen against fires and ensure that all the buns turn out perfectly.


Of course, speaking to your ingredients and equipment suppliers about the latest innovations will likely yield better results in the quest for perfection.

One thing, however, is certainly true about Hot Cross Buns: 800 years later, it is still big business. And we mean that literally.

While you may not be breaking any records this Easter, ensure that you have a good supply of delicious Hot Cross Buns ready for millions of consumers who have been waiting all year to enjoy their favourite Easter treat.

Fortunately, technology has made it easy for bakers to supply the demand for Hot Cross Buns over Easter. Bakers are spoilt for choice when it comes to excellent premixes to save time and costs.

Premix suppliers who can help make the Easter Hot Cross Bun rush less hectic include Supreme Flour, South Bakels, Chipkins Puratos, Austrian Premix and Aries Baking Supplies to name but a few.

Suppliers of dried fruits should also be mentioned , as what would a Hot Cross Bun be without the addition of currants, raisins, candied peel and the likes. Suppliers include Famasons, Relianz Foods, Almans Dried Fruit and Nuts, Aries Baking Supplies, Desert Raisins, Cape Dried Fruit and The Baking Tin to name but a few.


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