A My Mother’s Cookbooks Holiday Recipe…

One a penny, two a penny, HOT CROSS BUNS

Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

When it came to holidays, My Mum excelled at using food to engender celebration and tradition. At Easter that meant hot cross buns, but only at Easter. At other holidays, there were special foods, lots of holiday Christmas and Thanksgiving foods but hot cross buns were exclusively a Good Friday treat.

There is every chance this is a legacy of the delicious spiced sweet bun’s history. Did you know it was once banned except on Good Friday, Christmas or at burials?

During the reign of Elizabeth I and her successor James IV /I, if you were caught with spiced buns outside of the permitted period you would have to forfeit them to the poor. Our childhood nursery rhyme probably comes from the London street cry “Good Friday comes this month, the old woman runs. With one or two a penny hot cross buns”1

So, tomorrow being Maundy Thursday, as is tradition, I will be making a batch for Good Friday. I thought others might enjoy My Mother’s Cookbook’s version.

Just a word about icing and glazes… If you prefer you can leave the buns plain, omit the cross, glaze and icing. I recommend the glaze and icing, after all Good Friday comes but once a year! Enjoy!

My Mother’s Cookbooks Hot Cross Buns


21/4 tsp dry active yeast (1 envelop)
1 cup scaled milk cooled to lukewarm
1/2 c sugar (divided)
1/3 cup butter (room temperature)
1 tsp salt
4 cups all purpose flour
2 eggs (room temperature and beaten)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground clove
1/2 c currents or raisins

2 Tbsp corn syrup
1 Tbsp water

1 cup confectioners sugar
3-4 tbsp milk or to make an thin icing


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 inch x 13 inch dish.
  2. Dissolve yeast in lukewarm milk with 1 tsp of the sugar and let prove for 5 minutes.
  3. In a bowl of a stand mixer equipped with a whisk, add remaining sugar, softened butter, eggs, spices and flour until mixed well, you will need to switch to a dough hook before adding the flour.
  4. Add the yeast mixture to the dough, process until the yeast is well incorporated and the dough comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl.
  5. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead a few times on a floured surface, being careful to not to add too much flour.
  6. Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover and let rise until doubled.
  7. Punch the dough down to deflate, cut the dough in to 12 equal pieces and form in to buns and place in prepared pan. Using knife score the buns with slashes to create crosses.
  8. Cover and set aside in a warm place to rise until the buns have doubled.
  9. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until cooked thru.
  10. Place corn syrup and water in a bowl, microwave 20 seconds to warm.
  11. Brush the buns with warmed glaze while the buns are still warm.
  12. Let cool and pipe crosses over the score lines using the icing.

Credit: 1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poor_Robin


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