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How To Share The Story Of Easter Through A Hot Cross Bun.

Updated: Apr 3, 2023





One-a-penny, two-a-penny, Hot Cross Buns…


On Good Friday all around the world, people love celebrating Easter by enjoying Hot Cross Buns. These delicious fruit-filled buns have had a long historical connection to Easter and to English culture.


Originating in 12th century England, it is believed that a monk was the first to make the sweet bun. He marked it with a cross as a way to celebrate Easter while feeding the poor.


Hot cross buns have inspired a variety of myths and legends over the years. For example, one legend states that if you place a bun in the rafters of your kitchen on Good Friday, the pastry will never go stale and would ensure that your bread will always rise. Some even believed that the buns in the rafters had healing properties and so they ground them up to use as medicine.


In 1592, Queen Elizabeth the first decreed that Hot Cross Buns could only be eaten on Good Friday, Christmas, or at funerals. These special buns were far too sacred to be consumed on any other day. Many people then began secretly baking the pastries in their own kitchens. If they were caught, they had to give their illegal buns to the poor.


Sharing Hot Cross Buns has long been a symbol of friendship. Those who share a hot cross bun on Good Friday are supposed to enjoy a strong friendship bond for the next year. A line from an old Irish rhyme says: “Half for you and half for me, between us two, good luck shall be.”

Hot Cross Buns are popular at Easter because they capture the essence of the Easter story through both the symbolism of the cross and the flavors of the bun. The cross on the top of the bun represents the cross of Jesus. For Christians, the cross has always been a symbol of hope: the hope of light overcoming darkness, of Jesus being victorious over sickness and death, and of good triumphing over evil. The fruit embedded in the buns represents the body of Christ in the tomb. The cinnamon and nutmeg represent the spices used to anoint Jesus’ body as it was wrapped in burial cloths. Finally, the risen yeast dough symbolizes Jesus rising from the grave and defeating death once and for all.


The Easter story is a story of hope. The resurrection of Jesus is God’s promise for all of creation that He will indeed “make all things new”- Revelation 21:5.

In this time of considerable uncertainty, we could all use a little hope and a reminder that God is still making all things new. So we share these buns as a reminder that no matter how dark the world may become, Jesus offers us all new life through a relationship with Him.


A simple Easter Outreach:


  1. Make a double batch of our Ultimate Hot Cross Buns from our recipe found below.

  2. Copy, paste, print, and insert the note below into an Easter card. The note shares the story of Easter through the symbolism of Hot Cross Buns.

  3. Write a personal note on the card and wrap it up with your Hot Cross Buns and deliver them to a friend or neighbor.

  4. Video call, FB message or WhatsApp your friend. Wish them a happy Easter and ask if there is anything you can do or pray for.

Easter card insert text:


We hope you enjoy these Hot Cross Buns. Originating in 12 century England, tradition says that those who share a hot cross bun on Good Friday are destined to enjoy a strong friendship all year. A line from an old Irish rhyme says: “Half for you and half for me, between us two, good luck shall be.”

Hot Cross Buns are also popular at Easter because they capture the essence of the Easter story through the symbolism of the cross and the flavors of the bun. The cross on the top of the bun represents the cross of Jesus. For Christians, the cross has always been a symbol of hope: the hope of light overcoming darkness, of Jesus being victorious over sickness and death, and of good triumphing over evil. The fruit embedded in the buns represents the body of Christ in the tomb. The cinnamon and nutmeg represent the spices used to anoint Jesus’ body as it was wrapped in burial cloths. Finally, the risen yeast dough symbolizes Jesus rising from the grave and defeating death once and for all.


The Easter story is a story of hope. The resurrection of Jesus is God’s promise for all of creation that He will indeed “make all things new”- Revelation 21:5.





He is Risen!


Earl grey & Mandarin Hot Cross Buns Recipe


Earl Grey tea and mandarin orange with lemon zest and dark chocolate bring these traditional hot cross buns to the next level.


This Recipe has been updated on April 3, 2023.


Equipment

2 Mixing bowls

2 small pots

Saucepan

Measuring cups & spoons

Microplane or citrus zester

Sheet pan or rectangular cake pan lined with parchment paper

Towel and plastic wrap

Stand Mixer with a dough hook or Bread Machine (Optional - you can also knead by hand)

Chef’s Knife

Cooling rack

Ziplock Bag

Whisk


Ingredients


Dry ingredients:

1 ¾ tsp salt

4 ½ cups All-Purpose Flour

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp nutmeg (freshly grated is best)

¼ tsp cloves

¼ tsp ground star anise

Zest of 2 mandarin (or 1 navel) orange

Zest of one Lemon


Wet ingredients:


Milk Tea:

¾ cup milk

2 Earl Grey Tea bags

¼ cup brown sugar, packed

2 tsp vanilla extract


2 tsp instant yeast


¼ cup fresh squeezed mandarin orange juice

2 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk

6 Tbsp butter (room temperature)



Candied Fruit (to go inside the bun)

⅓ cup apple juice

¼ cup raisins chopped

¼ cup dried cranberries, chopped

¼ cup dried Apricots, chopped

2 tablespoons of chopped candied ginger

⅓ cup of chocolate chips

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp nutmeg

¼ tsp cloves

¼ tsp ground star anise


Egg wash:

1 large egg, beaten.

1 Tbsp milk


Flour Cross:

½ cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ teaspoon powdered ginger

Pinch of ground clove

5 tsp mandarin orange juice



1. Make a Tangzhoung paste: Add 3 Tbsp of the measured flour to ½ cup of milk in a saucepan. Set to medium-low and whisk the mixture constantly until it forms a thick slurry. This will take 1 to 2 minutes. Then transfer the mixture to a bowl and let it cool to lukewarm. You’ll combine this with the rest of the flour and other dough ingredients, at a later step (step 6). This is called the Tangzhoung method and yields a fluffier bun.


2. Add ¾ cup of milk, two Earl Grey tea bags, ¼ cup of brown sugar, and 2 tsp vanilla extract to a small pot and set to medium-low heat. This will brew into a milk tea that will be used in making the dough. Bring to a low simmer, then remove from heat, remove the tea bags, and let the tea cool to 110℉ (43℃)—just over room temp if you don’t have a thermometer.


3. Whisk 2 tsp of instant yeast into the milk tea and set aside. It should begin to foam within a few minutes, showing that the yeast is active. Let it activate for at least 15 minutes at room temperature as you prepare the rest of the ingredients.


4. Zest the orange and lemon, and juice the zested orange to yield ¼ cup of orange juice. Set both juice and zest aside for the moment.


5. Pour ⅓ cup of apple juice into a small pot. This will be poaching liquid for your raisins. Add the raisins and your spices: 1 tsp cinnamon, ⅓ tsp ground ginger ¼ tsp of ground cloves, and ¼ tsp ground star anise. Let this simmer on low for 5-6 minutes or until the raisins are fully hydrated and the poaching liquid is reduced to a syrup. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl to cool.


6. Make the dough. Whisk together the flour, salt, spices, and zest from the orange and lemon. Then mix in two eggs and one additional yolk. Add the milk tea (with activated yeast), the mandarin orange juice, softened butter, and the paste created in step 1.


7. Use a stand mixer or bread machine to knead the dough until it is soft and elastic for about 10 -12 minutes.


8. Once the dough is smooth and elastic, slowly knead in the hydrated and spiced fruit followed by the chocolate chips.


9. Oil a mixing bowl, place the dough into it and cover it with plastic wrap or a damp cloth. Let it rise for about an hour in a warm place. Room temperature is fine unless it’s a cool day, in which case you can set it in your oven on the proofing option. If you don’t have a proofing option, turn your oven on to it’s lowest temp for a few minutes to warm it up, then turn it off and insert your bowl of covered dough into the warm oven to proof for about 1 hour. The temp should be 75 - 85 F. The dough should become puffy and double in size.


10. Punch down the risen dough and put it on a flour-dusted cutting board. Use a chef's knife or bench scraper to divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece out into a log about 8 “ in length. Cut the 8” log into 4 equal pieces (about 100 grams each). This will make 16 buns.


11. Dust the cutting board or countertop with flour, and roll each bun in your hands until a small baseball-sized ball takes shape. Arrange each bun on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper. Keep a 1”-2” gap between each bun.


12. Spray the top of the buns with cooking spray, then cover loosely with plastic wrap followed by a kitchen towel, and let the buns rise for about an hour on a warm counter or in the warm oven, until they have doubled in size.


13. Preheat the oven to 350℉.


14. Whisk one egg with 1 Tbsp milk to create an egg wash. Brush this over the buns.


15. Make a simple cross-out of flour and water. Mix 1/2 cup of flour with 4-6 tablespoons of water, add a pinch of cinnamon, a pinch of ground cloves, and 1 tsp of sugar. Stir until thick paste forms.


16. Add the paste to a piping bag fitted with a small round tip. You can also use a sealable plastic bag with a small hole in it. Pipe a simple cross on the top of each bun.


17. Bake the buns for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.


These delicious hot cross buns are best enjoyed toasted with butter and apricot jam and a cup of Earl Gray tea.


Happy Easter! He Is Risen!






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