I love food traditions. It’s fun to get excited about making a certain dish or treat during a special time of year. I love learning the history – knowing why a certain food that become associated with a date on the calendar. Good Friday is one of those special days with a special treat to go along with it. I am talking about Hot Cross Buns:

What is a Hot Cross Buns

A hot cross bun is a sweetened yeast roll. It typically contains spices and dried fruit. It has a cross made of icing that is put on at the end. Some recipes call for you to cut a cross directly in the rolls before baking. They are often made using the sponge method. This is when you combine flour and liquid together with yeast and allow it to rise. It differs from the standard bread making procedure in that you don’t add in all the ingredients until after the 1st rise. The dough tends to be more sticky. We have used this method before when making Challah.

The History of Hot Cross Buns

The origin of these buns is believed to be St. Alab’s Abbey starting in 1361. A monk named Father Thomas Rockcliffe is believed to have started the tradition. They were sold to poor people who came for the Good Friday service. Vendors actually cried out the song that has become a popular nursery rhyme.

During the reign of Elizabeth I of England (1592), hot cross buns were among a list of spiced breads that were not to be sold unless the occasion was Good Friday or Christmas, or a burial. Not quite sure what the reason for this was but it could be in part to Catholicism being banned in England at that time.

The Tradition Continues Today

Those once seen as a Good Friday only treat, the Hot Cross Bun is typically available from Good Friday through Resurrection Sunday. In my household I am beginning the tradition of making them on Good Friday (they are currently on their 2nd rise as I write this). Each year I will be looking of ways to tweet and improve the buns. I am starting off using a recipe from the Pioneer Woman. For the dried fruit I am used a Dried Cherry Berry Blend (Montmorency Cherries, Cranberries & Blueberries).

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This time of year you can visit any candy aisle and found tons of mint flavored things not available at other times of the year. For example, Mint M&M’s are only found at Christmas. So why is mint associated with the Christmas season? I searched all over online to try to find an exact answer, but I could not find one. So I thought thinking what is the first thing that people think of when they mint at Christmas time? The candy cane. This peppermint flavored treat was first made to be a part of the Christmas experience. It is believed that in 1670, a choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral handed this candy out to children at their living Nativity, to keep the kids occupied. The candy was shaped to look like a shepherd’s staff. The peppermint flavor probably wasn’t introduced for another 200 years. They became popular to hang on Christmas trees in the United States. So I think this is how mint became associated with Christmas. Starting with the candy cane, other mint flavored candies were introduced over the years until mint became of one of the flavors of Christmas.

Two other things that may have played a role in mint becoming a Christmas stable is that mint is a green leaf. Red and green are the colors of Christmas (figuring out why that is a whole another story). So anything green would sell well at Christmas. I also think that the flavor of mint leaves a coolness in your mouth. That goes along with how we associate Christmas with the cold and snow when in places that won’t see a single snowflake this year.

I love mint flavored things, so I don’t mind indulging at Christmas on all sorts of mint flavored goodies. Below you will find some of my favorite mint recipes.

Chocolate Peppermint Pinwheel Cookies
Nestle Dark Chocolate & Mint Chip Cookies
Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream

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I'm Eric. I live in Ann Arbor, MI with my wife, 3 kids, and a flock of ducks. I love grocery shopping, trying new fruits, farmer's market, and traveling.
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