Easter is one of the oldest festivals of the Christian Church, it celebrates the resurrection of Christ on the third day following his crucifixion.
It is held on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox in the northern hemisphere.
The Church celebrations run from Palm Sunday, before Easter, through to Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
So why the hot cross bun?
There are numerous stories surrounding the origins of the famous baked good, most common that the bun symbolises the end of Lent, with the cross representing the crucifixion of Jesus and the spices inside reminding Christians 'of the spices put on the body of Jesus'.
Some believe the hot cross bun originates from St Albans, where Brother Thomas Rocliffe, a 14th Century monk at St Albans Abbey, developed a similar recipe called an 'Alban Bun' and distributed the bun to the local poor on Good Friday in 1361.
In 1592 during the reign of Elizabeth I, it was forbidden to sell hot cross buns and other spiced breads, except at burials, on Good Friday or at Christmas time.
There are many superstitions surrounding hot cross buns in English folklore. One of them said that if hung in the kitchen they are believed to protect against fires and ensure that all bread turns out perfectly. The bun is then replaced each year.
In many Christian countries traditionally the buns have continued to be consumed on Good Friday, however over time they have gained popularity, and become a symbol of the Easter weekend.
There's a few more days to hop into the spirit, and you can start by making your own hot cross buns.
What you'll need:
- 310mL warm milk
- 60g caster sugar
- 2 (7g) sachets dried active yeast (aprox. 4 teaspoons)
- 600g plain flower
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 60g butter
- 1 1/2 cups raisins or sultanas
- 2 eggs
- In a bowl whisk together milk, sugar and yeast until sugar has dissolved. Then set aside until the yeast has activated and mixture becomes frothy.
- In a bowl sift together the flower, salt, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. With your fingers rub in the butter until it looks like fine breadcrumbs.
- Stir into the flower mixture the raisins, eggs and frothy yeast, then mix until combined.
- On a lightly floured surface knead the dough for about 5 minutes until smooth. Add the dough to a large greased bowl then cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for 45 minutes or until dough has doubled in size.
- Remove the risen dough and slightly knead and divide into 12 balls.
- Place buns into a greased backing tray and cover with cling wrap. Leave in a warm place to rise for 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
- For the garnish cross, whisk together 60g of plain flower and 60g of water into a smooth paste and place in a snap lock bag to pipe.
- Bake for 10 minutes, reduce to 180 degrees and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
- Cool and serve.