Break Bread

Alisha Shinde
Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Hot Cross Buns are a part of Easter tradition. We talk to popular city bakeries and a homebaker to know the significance of spiced buns

Hot Cross Buns... one a penny, two a cross buns.’
Does the nursery rhyme ring a bell? Well, you may have enjoyed the rhyme in your school days but Hot Cross Buns have a special significance. They are a part of Easter tradition, especially Good Friday. “The buns are consumed at the end of the 40-day Lent period, which is also known as the fasting period for Christians to mark that the fasts are over,” says Rajan Kedas, an ex-Sunday school teacher, Seventh-day Adventist Church. He explains that the cross on top of the buns is symbolic of the Crucifixion of Christ. 

That said, many of the customs associated with Easter have passed onto other communities because of which decorating Easter eggs has also become popular as a fun activity amongst children points out Kedas. 

City Bakery situated in Camp, Pune, which is known for its Hot Cross Buns, has been selling the item for the past 15 to 20 years. “Since they are available once a year we have a lot of customers asking for the freshly baked buns, which get sold out quick,” says Kushru Irani who is the fourth generation owner of the bakery. He says that surprisingly the majority of customers are non-Christians. He believes that traditions in India crosses religious boundaries. “Our Hot Cross Buns are topped with raisins and tutti-frutti which will be available today and on Good Friday,” he adds.

Manoj Shresth, who works at Diamond Bakery in Fatima Nagar, says, “We have been selling the buns since we first opened which was in 2002 and they have been a hit since then.” He explains that due to excessive demand they have already started selling the buns. “On Good Friday, we have customers who queue up really early to get their share of freshly made Hot Cross Buns,” he adds. He too says that the customers who come in are not particularly Christians but belong to different religious communities as well. “Along with the buns, we also sell Chocolate Easter Eggs which are a huge hit among children,” says Shresth.     

“Hot Cross Buns are not only limited to metropolitan cities nowadays,” says Mona Naik, a homebaker from Kolhapur. She says that the buns have gained popularity even in small cities like Kolhapur mainly because of digital media. “Youngsters have become aware of latest food trends,” she says pointing out that not many bakeries sell them in the city. “But we have a lot of homebakers these days who make such items. So for Good Friday, they have these traditional buns on offer,” she adds. 

To bake them fresh, follow this recipe: 
White flour... - 3 cups
Milk.. - .1 cup
Butter... - 2 tbsp
Salt... - 3/4 tsp
Yeast...     - 17 gm 
Cinnamon.. - .1/4 tsp 
Raisins... - 1 tbsp
Egg... - 1
Oil as required
Powdered sugar as required

- Heat the milk and add butter, sugar, cinnamon and raisins. Mix well to dissolve the sugar. 
- When the milk becomes lukewarm add the yeast and mix well.
- Add a beaten egg to the mixture and add 2 cups of the flour and mix well. While kneading, add the rest of the flour, a quarter cup at a time, till the dough forms a ball. 
- Place the dough in an oiled bowl, smear a bit of oil on top of the dough and leave it covered in a warm place for it to rise. 
- After an hour or so when the dough becomes double its size, knead it for a minute and then divide it into small portions and roll them into rounds.
- Place them on greased baking sheets and using a knife cut across making a cross on the dough.
- Let the buns rise. Then brush with milk and sprinkle some powdered sugar on top.
- Bake at 200 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes. 
- Remove and cool. 
(Recipe by Mona Naik of White Rose by Mona)

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