I read something disquieting about Easter buns the other day. Of course I knew the paste cross represents the crucifixion, but this article stated that the traditional spices in the recipe recall those used during the embalming of Christ’s body. And another thing, the bitter peel in the mixed fruit is to remind the faithful of Christ’s torment on the cross. I had no idea about all this! Even as an agnostic it gave me cause for thought.
In 1911 a woman signing herself ‘Catholic Englishwoman’ wrote to the Daily Telegraph concerning the origin of the buns;
‘The ‘cross ‘ bun, or small cake as it was once, made of spiced bread dates back to very old days when England was a Catholic country, and the faithful, having often travelled many miles to church on Good Friday while fasting, would have to return home after the long service of the day in the same condition. These ‘buns’ or ‘cakes; were sold outside the gates of the church and those who were unable to remain fasting might purchase them. These cakes were the only food of the day, and not an article of pleasurable consumption, as in these degenerate times.’ 😨
Let’s move on to less spiritual matters. There should be no need to spread butter on Hot Cross Buns, and I say that as a dairy farmer’s daughter. If they are well made, the mixed fruit and those spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice etc.) ought to be enough in themselves.
My posts regarding food are sometimes controversial when I post on our community FB group. I never intend them to be I can assure you.
In the most recent one I was extolling the virtues of Easter buns purchased from Coles supermarket in Katoomba (particularly in comparison to Woolworths’ rather sad offerings). They are full of preservatives I’ll admit, but oh that fragrance and flavour. 💛
Naturally there were some disapproving responses , with people suggesting I should support local Blackheath bakeries. Well that’s fair enough, our Blue Mountains businesses have had a rough few years, what with bushfires, Covid and eighteen months of rain.
So today I walked up to Blackheath village to buy a few buns from each outlet. But was anyone selling them? NO. Admittedly Easter in not until April, but still….
At the Wentworth Street Bakery they told me I’d have to wait another couple of weeks. Never mind, I ordered a coffee since I was there. They were only doing takeaway, but I bought something called a Berry French Tart and found a seat in the courtyard. I was hoping ‘takeaway’ also applied to their upholstered stools, because I’ve been trying to find some decent ones recently.
Directly next door I spotted a row of sunflowers. Honestly, is there a more merry flower in the world? How did they thrive in our protracted La Nina cycle? Pop up and have a look, locals. They will lift your heart in the same way a Coles hot cross bun can. 😍
Meanwhile I feel totally justified in continuing to scoff Easter buns. Yes, I know it’s still March, but in our house we celebrate a season called Run-up to Easter. It starts just after New Year and is now in full swing. What ‘Catholic Englishwoman’ would think of me I dread to think. We have cards, we have eggs, we have rabbits…we do not have chocolate. Easter buns are one thing, but chocolate eggs are off limits until Easter Sunday even for me.
Surprisingly, not one person suggested I bake my own buns….. now that’s a sign of the times. 😎
For the traditionists here is a You-tube video of them being made.