Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.

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–Here! (Almost Here!)

Good Friday, that is. 😉

I learned about several Good Friday traditions when I visited Fisheaters.

Mark 15:25, 33 And it was the third hour, and they crucified Him… And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole earth until the ninth hour.

Jesus suffered on the cross from noon until 3:00 pm, so those are the most holy hours of all. It’s called “Tre Ore” or “Three Hours’ Agony”.

People who observe Three Hours’ Agony act as if they’re at a funeral all day–wearing black, covering mirrors, and no celebrating anything. (Not even birthdays–thank goodness.)

I read that people often fast from Good Friday until Resurrection Sunday. (Not me.) If they choose not to fast, traditionally Hot Cross Buns are eaten.

From Fisheaters–

As to foods, Hot Cross Buns are traditionally eaten for breakfast on this day, and are about the only luxury afforded in this time of mourning. Legend says that a priest at St. Alban’s Abbey in Hertfordshire gave these to the poor on Good Friday beginning in A.D. 1361, and the tradition was born.

Just as I’m thinking, “Whew! I don’t even know where you’d buy Hot Cross Buns,” I see the rest of the story.

Below is a recipe for them:

Hot Cross Buns

Buns: 1 cup milk

2 TBSP yeast

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp. salt

1/3 cup butter, melted, cooled

1 tsp. cinnamon 1/2 tsp. nutmeg

4 eggs

5 cups flour

1 1/3 cups currants or raisins

1 egg white

Glaze: 1 1/3 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 1/2 tsp. lemon zest

1/2 tsp. lemon extract

1- 2 TBSP milk

In a small saucepan, heat milk to very warm, but not hot (110°F if using a candy thermometer).

Fit an electric mixer with a dough hook. Pour warm milk in the bowl of mixer and sprinkle yeast over. Mix to dissolve and let sit for 5 minutes. With mixer running at low speed, add sugar, salt, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg and eggs. Gradually add flour, dough will be wet and sticky, and continue kneading with dough hook until smooth, about 5 minutes.

Detach bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 30-45 minutes. Return bowl to mixer and knead until smooth and elastic, for about 3 more minutes. Add currants or raisins and knead until well mixed. At this point, dough will still be fairly wet and sticky.

Shape dough in a ball, place in a buttered dish, cover with plastic wrap and let rise overnight in the refrigerator. Excess moisture will be absorbed by the morning.

Let dough sit at room temperature for about a half-hour. Line a large baking pan (or pans) with parchment paper (you could also lightly grease a baking pan, but parchment works better).

Divide dough into 24 equal pieces (in half, half again, etc., etc.). Shape each portion into a ball and place on baking sheet, about 1/2 inch apart. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours. In the meantime, pre-heat oven to 400° F.

When buns have risen, take a sharp or serrated knife and carefully slash buns with a cross shape all the way across the top (an equilateral Greek Cross). Brush them with egg white and place in oven. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350° F, then bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes more.

Transfer to a wire rack. Whisk together glaze ingredients, and spoon over buns in the cross pattern made earlier.

Serve warm with butter, if possible.

Makes me tired just to read all that!

It is customary, because of the Cross on the buns, to kiss them before eating, and to share one of these Hot Cross Buns with someone, reciting these words:

Half for you and half for me, Between us two shall goodwill be.

Hot Cross buns are said to never corrupt (good to know, right?) and Catholics used to keep a few all year to grate some of it into water for the sick to consume.

When I first took piano lessons, I learned a song about them, and of course, I sang along. 🙂

♫ How Cross Buns! Hot Cross buns! ♫

♫ One a penny, two a penny, Hot cross buns! ♫

♫ If you have no daughters give them to your sons, ♫

♫ One a penny, two a penny Hot cross buns ♫

I hope you have a GOOD, Good Friday

If the recipe for Hot Cross Buns above looked a little difficult to you, too, try this one. It’s from Southern Living and much easier!

I’m still looking for one that starts with frozen rolls. 🙂 Or maybe I can find a bakery that sells them. BTW: If I have HCB this year, they’ll be my first.

Are the buns a tradition in your family or, if you have them, will they be your virgin voyage, too?

Know where I can buy a dozen or so?