Easter Traditions and Hot Cross Buns

Easter has always been one of my favorite holidays. It means new beginnings to me, a fresh start. It is a celebration for Christians all over the world that our Saviour lives!

It also reminds me of the eventful Easter dress shopping as a little girl. Going with mom to find the right socks, shoes and matching hairbow in addition to our dresses for Easter morning was a big deal. I was probably in 4th or 5th grade when my dad decided that he wanted to take my sisters and me spring dress shopping. I don’t think he knew what he was getting himself into. Nancee Lee (age 5) cried through the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee because Dad bought her a huge Coke at McDonalds in Greenville, SC but forgot how tiny her bladder was. She cried because we could not find a bathroom for many mountain miles(I love alliteration). When we finally found a rest stop, the restrooms were closed because the janitor was cleaning. Apparently, he saw the sad state of my little sister and finally let us in.:) We drove all the way to Pigeon Forge, TN late that night.  Stayed at a hotel and shopped at the outlets the following day. We were each allowed to get two dresses plus accessories. It was so much fun, and I still remember the dresses we purchased that weekend.

In my immediate family, our other Easter traditions have always been to have “Easter Eve” dinner with my mom’s family on Good Friday or Saturday. And then on Easter Sunday we attend church(dressed in our Sunday best, of course:) and then eat a big dinner with my dad’s family. When I came across several good recipes for Hot Cross Buns, traditionally a Good Friday bread I knew it was something I wanted to try, maybe even start my own new tradition.

Family Picture, 2011

Hot Cross Buns have a varied history depending on what you read. Some say the Greeks started the tradition in the first century or that the Saxons started the tradition in the 13th century. Others say that the tradition was started by Catholics as a symbol of their hold over the English monarchy even after the country proclaimed itself Protestant in the 15th century. Traditionally, leftover dough made for the communion supper was baked into spiced rolls. Although the English government tried to outlaw them because of the connection with Catholicism, the rolls became so popular that eventually in England, Elizabeth 1 made a law that the buns could be sold but only on Christmas and Easter.

Regardless of who is right about the history of these rolls, they are a delicious holiday treat always iced with a cross to symbolize the crucifixion on Good Friday. One that symbolizes the true meaning of Good Friday and Easter, better than bunnies, chicks, and egg hunts anyway.

I referred to several recipes before I decided to make these rolls from the Pioneer Woman‘s basic recipe with just one or two variations. I couldn’t be happier with the way they turned out. Kind of a cross(no pun intended) between a yeast dinner roll and a cinnamon roll. Simple and delicious. Total preparation, baking, and cooling time was under 3 hours.


Recipe from http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/04/hot-cross-buns/


  • Buns
  • 2 cups Whole Milk
  • ½ cups Canola Oil
  • ½ cups Sugar
  • 1 package (2 1/4 Teaspoons) Active Dry Yeast
  • 4 cups All-purpose Flour
  • ½ cups (additional) Flour
  • ½ teaspoons (heaping) Baking Powder
  • ½ teaspoons (scant) Baking Soda
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • ¼ cups Sugar (I doubled this amount)
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • Spices: Cardamom, Nutmeg, Allspice (optional) (I just used nutmeg)
  • ½ cups Raisins (I used orange infused dried cranberries)
  • GLAZE (I used more of a buttercream icing, just because of personal preference)
  • 1 whole Egg White
  • Splash Of Milk
  • Icing
  • 1 whole Egg White
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Splash Of Milk

Preparation Instructions


Combine 2 cups milk, canola oil, and 1/2 cup sugar in a saucepan. Stir and heat until very warm but not boiling. Turn off the heat and allow to cool until mixture is still warm, but not hot–about 30 minutes.

Sprinkle yeast over mixture. Add 4 cups of flour and stir to combine. Mixture will be very sticky. Cover with a towel and set aside for 1 hour.

Add 1/2 cup flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir till combined.

Combine 1/4 cup sugar with cinnamon and whatever other spices you want to use.

Lightly flour surface. Press to slightly flatten dough. Sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of the sugar/cinnamon mixture. Sprinkle on about a third of the raisins. Then fold the dough over on itself and flatten again so the dough is “plain” again. Repeat the sugar/raisin process, then fold the dough again. Repeat a third time until all the raisins are used. (You won’t use all the sugar/cinnamon mixture.)

Pinch off ping pong or golf ball-size bunches of dough. With floured hands, quickly roll it into a ball, then turn the edges under themselves slightly. Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for at least 30 minutes…an hour-plus is better.

PREHEAT OVEN TO 400 degrees


Mix 1 egg white with a splash of milk. Brush onto each roll.

Bake for 20 minutes, give or take, or until tops of buns have turned nice and golden brown.

Remove from pan and allow to cool on a cooling rack.


Mix 1 egg white with enough powdered sugar for icing to be very thick. Splash in milk as needed for consistency.

Add icing to a small Ziploc bag and snip the corner. Make icing crosses on each roll, making sure they’re completely cooled first.

Naptime Diaries, Etsy.com

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