There are a number of theories about why Hot Cross Buns are eaten on Good Friday. By one account, Pope Gregory ordained in the 6th Century that only bread, salt and vegetables should be eaten on that day. Loaves of bread were marked with a cross before baking to designate them as Good Friday fare.
Another story considers the buns an outgrowth of the Anglo-Saxon pagan sacramental cakes. Early Christian clergy, unable to stop people from eating the cakes, added religious significance by blessing and decorating them with a cross.
Whatever their origin, during the Middle Ages Hot Cross Buns came to be considered a preventive for all sorts of ailments. They were kept for a whole year to be eaten as medicine, and small pieces were worn as charms against the disasters of plague, pestilence, lightning, shipwreck and fire. HOT CROSS BUNS
3 1/4 to 3 3/4 cups flour
1 package quick-rise yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup currants
2 tablespoons grated lemon peel
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, yeast, sugar, cinnamon, salt, cloves and nutmeg in large mixer bowl. Mix well.
Heat milk, water and butter in saucepan until very warm (120 to 130 degrees). Butter does not need to melt. Add to flour mixture with egg. Blend at low speed until moistened, then beat 3 minutes at medium speed.
By hand, gradually stir in currants, lemon peel and enough remaining flour to make soft dough. Knead on floured surface until smooth and elastic, 5 to 8 minutes.
Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes.
Punch down dough and divide into 3 parts. Divide each third into 6 pieces and shape each into smooth ball. Place on greased baking sheet, sides touching. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled, about 15 minutes.
Combine egg yolk and water. Brush buns. Bake at 375 degrees 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from baking sheet and cool.
Use Frosting to make cross on each roll. Makes 18 buns. Frosting
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 to 4 teaspoons water
Combine powdered sugar, vanilla and enough water to make thick frosting.