It's been a rough week. Two sick kids equals not much sleep. I feel like I've been dragging myself through the week, barely functioning. So here it is Good Friday already, and I find myself trying to focus my thoughts on Easter and the meaning of it for my life for the first time this week. Here we are celebrating how Christ died for our sins and rose again conquering death, and I've been wrapped up in my own life barely giving it a thought. When the baby got up early again this morning, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to bake something...so I decided to try my hand at some hot cross buns. Maybe it's a silly way to do it, but I wanted to bake something that might help focus my heart today while I'm out in the kitchen.
Baking hot cross buns on Good Friday is an old English tradition apparently, with the obvious symbolism of the cross on top representing the crucifixion. It's possible that the traditional spices of cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg may be symbolic of the spices used for Christ's burial. If you do a little research you will find that there are some crazy superstitions that sprung up regarding hot cross buns which are kind of humorous:
-- hot cross buns baked on Good Friday will not mold or spoil for the next year
--if you hang one in your kitchen it will protect you from any kitchen fires
--if you take one on a sea voyage it will protect you from shipwreck
--if you share one with a friend, it will ensure friendship for the next year (This is the only one I might believe, because the buns are pretty tasty, so your friend would be pretty happy with you for sharing!)
Personally, I don't believe that the hot cross buns have any special, magical properties simply because they have a cross piped on top. The bun in and of itself is just another yummy treat. The symbol of the cross does not make it holier than any other bun. But they did have a special meaning for me today, in that they helped me turn my heart and thoughts toward the sacrifice that Christ made for us on the cross. His suffering and death has allowed us to have life-- and if you're going to celebrate something with baked goods, that certainly is worth celebrating more than anything else.
I looked at a bunch of recipes, and then cheated and mixed up the dough in my bread machine. The recipe I used can be found here: Hot Cross Buns. Of course, I made a few changes.... I didn't have any lemons or oranges, so I had to leave out the grated lemon rind. I used both raisins and dried cranberries, and plumped them up first with some orange juice. After I drained the orange juice off of them, I tossed them with some vanilla bean paste, and then added them to my bread machine after the first rise. I formed them into 12 rolls, after raising for about an hour coated them with an egg wash and then baked them. I made the crosses on top with a combination of powdered sugar, cinnamon, and milk, but I made the glaze a little too thin, so they didn't stay in the shape as well as I would have liked.
I had never had hot cross buns before so I don't have anything to compare them too. Our conclusion was that they were tasty, although as far as buns are concerned I would prefer a cinnamon roll. I'm not sure if these will become a new yearly tradition, but for this year they served their purpose to both re-direct my heart and give us something tasty to eat.