Hot Cross Bun History

If you’re a baker and are thinking about Easter, chances are you’re also thinking about hot cross buns. Let’s discuss the origin of this classic easter bread.

If you’re a baker and are thinking about Easter, chances are you’re also thinking about hot cross buns. Suprima bakeries can provide you with the perfect solution to your easter baking needs – frozen hot cross bun dough! Add our delicious hot cross bun variations to your bakery this coming Easter, with 3 options available: original hot cross buns, indulgent double chocolate hot cross buns and savoury Vegemite and cheese hot cross buns.

Now that we’ve introduced you to our hot cross buns, let’s discuss the origin of this classic easter bread, in this hot cross bun history blog. You can share the following facts with your customers this Easter season so that they too can share in the origin story of this easter edible.

Introducing hot cross buns

There are many traditional desserts we indulge in during Easter – from chocolate eggs and bread pudding to nan’s trifle, there’s never a lack of sweet treats to enjoy. But very few desserts are readily available all year round, except the hot cross bun. Whether it’s a boiling 40 degrees or a chilly 4 degrees, it’s no secret that Australia’s most beloved supermarkets keep the shelves fully stocked with hot cross buns, even when Easter is months away.

These treats however, are packed with much more than dried fruit and sweet spices. Riddled in history, hot cross buns originally came to fruition around Easter time, but what’s the story behind this distinctive dessert?

Hot Cross Buns Origins

So what are the origins of the hot cross bun? There are many stories behind the hot cross bun history.

A Monk, Magic or Penny Pinchers?

If we look back in time, there is evidence that the Saxons baked buns marked with crosses in honour of their Goddess of spring or light, Eostre.

We also see similarities in the Druid, Phoenician, Greek, and Roman cultures. In fact, the remains of such buns can be found in an ancient bakehouse in Pompeii.

According to the Cathedral and Abbey Church of Saint Alban, a 14th century monk baked the buns on Good Friday and marked them with a cross on top in honour of the crucifixion of Jesus and Easter.

Quickly gaining popularity across England, a London clerk banned the sale of the buns due to superstitions that they may carry medicinal or magical properties. This ban was made law at a later date, which only allowed the buns to be sold around Easter and Christmas.

This continued for the next few decades before the popularity and high demand for the treat pushed it to be available at bakeries all year round.

In another origin story, one of the first recorded hot cross bun references was believed to be in ‘Poor Robin Almanac’ (a satirical publication).

It reads: “Good Friday comes this month, the old woman runs. With one or two a penny hot cross buns”.

As a part of folklore, the quote refers to the selling of hot cross buns and their cheap price.

Since then, hot cross buns have been shrouded in superstition and baked into cultural traditions around the world. Some notable mentions and claims to their properties include:

  • Staying fresh and mould-free for an entire year if hung from kitchen rafters on Good Friday
  • Expelling bad spirits through the symbolic power of the baked ‘cross’
  • Cementing friendships between those who share a hot cross bun
  • Helping ill loved ones to recover from sickness
  • Protecting against shipwreck and mutiny when brought on board an oceanic voyage.

Regardless of the exact hot cross bun history, hot cross buns have become an integral part of our food and social traditions.

What makes hot cross buns so special?

Hot cross buns hold special symbolic significance in the Christian faith.

Each bun is decorated with a flour paste cross, which represents the cross on which Jesus Christ died. The hot cross bun spices are said to represent the spices that were used to embalm Jesus after his death.

How are hot cross buns enjoyed in the modern day?

Original hot cross bun dough. These days, hot cross buns are a great way for bakers to appeal to the masses (so to speak), and not just during the lead up to Easter. Hot cross buns are no longer solely reserved for religious holidays and instead, are sold and enjoyed all year round!

Positioning themselves as the new jam doughnut or apple strudel, popular supermarkets have recently introduced the year round sale of hot cross buns. Woolworths reported their switch to the production of the hot cross buns year-round after selling a whooping 72 million buns during the 2017 Easter period (as recorded by Australian Food News). This pressured the rest of the competition to follow suit.

Hot cross buns are now so widely enjoyed that they even have their own baking category at the annual Baking Association Australia Awards. The Baking Association of Australia also features traditional recipes such as hot cross buns at their annual Baking Industry Trade Show.

Moreover, bakers all over the world are now starting to enhance the traditional recipe and shape it to modern tastes by creating variations such as:

  • Cinnamon and raisin hot cross buns
  • Coffee-flavoured hot cross buns
  • Sticky caramel hot cross buns
  • Butterscotch hot cross buns
  • Chocolate and cherry hot cross buns
  • White chocolate and raspberry hot cross buns
  • Chocolate chip hot cross buns.

Fun facts about hot cross buns

Now that you’ve had a taste of the rich, delicious history of hot cross buns, it’s time to learn a few more fun facts about the traditional bun and how it’s enjoyed today.

  • The international Hot Cross Bun Day is held on the 11th of September each year.
  • Religious individuals believe in kissing a hot cross bun before eating it because of the symbolic cross on top.
  • The world’s oldest hot cross bun is believed to be more than 200 years old. It is owned by a couple from Essex in England, claiming the bun
    was made in 1807 – and it isn’t even mouldy!
  • Each bun is decorated with a flour paste cross, which represents the cross on which Jesus was crucified
  • The bun marks the end of Lent


Add Hot Cross Buns To Your Bakery

Indulgent Double Chocolate Hot Cross Burns frozen dough. While adding a new product offering to a small independent bakery can be intimidating, due to high labour costs and expensive ingredients, there is an easy and affordable way to add hot cross buns to your menu without breaking the bank.

Suprima offers a variety of frozen bread products that can help enhance your current store’s output.

Finding the perfect recipe is the hardest part, but with Suprima you can rest easy knowing that you are receiving quality dough with every order. Our delicious hot cross bun recipe is a crowd-pleaser, combining traditional flavours and ingredients to create a delightfully nostalgic treat.

Make a Trade Enquiry

Let’s save your bakery or food business time and money by using our range of convenient and versatile doughs that you bake fresh. Contact the team at Suprima Bakeries today.

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