Sunday, April 8, 2012



I love Hot Cross Buns! However, I don't think I have taken part in this particularly scrumptious slice of the Easter celebration for at least 20 some odd years! Why, you may ask?  Well, if truth be told, I have been on a diet for practically my entire life.  If not, all my life! I look at sweets and gain ten pounds!! O' the wretched curse of fatty genes. But I digress... What I want to speak about today on this Easter morn is this; on this past Good Friday I was food shopping at Hawthorn Valley, in upstate New York, when I was suddenly stopped, dead in my tracks, by a case full of fresh, out of the oven, aero-aromatic Hot Cross Buns. They were not just calling to me, they were singing songs of my memories past with a full orchestral band... Memories of a snowy April's morn shouting from my highest cortex when I was seven years old. I was instructed to pick up a dozen Hot Cross Buns after mass on Easter morning. I musingly remember that I waited a whole thirty minutes on line outside the German bakery on Riverdale Avenue. I was holding on to my pink Easter Bonnet with a spray of pink shimmering Lilly of the Valley pinned to its side, and of course a ten dollar bill.  I remember thinking, "I am real grown up now to be given such an important errand.", as the wind and snow cruelly pierced my white lace stockings and the slush soaked into my new black patent leather shoes. And finally I remember, inhaling the sweet steamy scent of cinnamon mingling with sugary preparations as I entered the toasty confectionary.  I ordered, with what I believed to be frost bitten toes, thirteen buns, not knowing that I hadn't even enough for twelve. An enchanted voice from behind the counter said, "that will be eleven, fifty." Reaching my hand up as far as I could, merely to the edge of the counter, I meekly replied, "Is this enough?" It seemed like an eternity before the smiling confectioness, with her cherrytwizzler-red lips, leaned over the counter and her butter-silken hand reached down and took my ten dollar bill. With a wink, she said, "Fröhliche Ostern! Perfect!" O' my, a small act of kindness is unforgettable; it silently waits for the right moment to resurrect and remind us that we might not be wearing a bonnet or patent leather shoes, or relishing in a simple responsibility, but that we could be sweetly and forever adorned by someone who joyously gives without a hitch.  O' let the honeyed taste of that Hot Cross Bun fill me for a lifetime.

Last bit of Odd and End ~ "Bath buns, hot cross buns, spice buns, penny buns, Chelsea buns, currant buns-all these small, soft, plump, sweet, fermented' cakes are English institutions...The most interesting of the recipes is perhaps the simple spiced fruit bun, the original of our Good Friday hot cross bun without the cross. These spice buns first became popular in Tudor days, at the same period as the larger spice loaves or cakes, and were no doubt usually made form the same batch of spcied and butter-enriched fruit dough. For a long time bakers were permitted to offer these breads and buns for sale only on special occasions, as is shown by the following decree, issued in 1592, the thirty-sixth year of the reign of Elizabeth I, by the London Clerk of the Markets: That no bakers, etc, at any time or times hereafter make, utter, or sell by retail, within or without their houses, unto any of the Queen's subject any spice cakes, buns, biscuits, or other spice bread (being bread out of size and not by law allowed) except it be at burials, or on Friday before Easter, or at Christmas, upon pain or forfeiture of all such spiced bread to the poor...If anybody wanted spice bread and buns for a private celebration, then, these delicacies had to be made at home. In the time of James I, further attempts to prevent bakers from making spice breads and buns proved impossible for enforce, and in this matter thhe bakers were allowed their way. Although for difference reasons, the situation now is much as it was in the late seventeenth century, spice buns appearing only at Easter--not, to be sure, on Good Friday when bakeries are closed, but about a fortnight in advance..."
---English Bread and Yeast Cookery, Elizabeth David [Penguin Books:Middlesex UK] 1979 (p. 473-5) [NOTE: This book contains a recipe for hot cross buns.]