Skip to main content

One a Penny, Two a Penny ... Hot Cross Buns for the Weekly Bake Off

There are times when I wish I had taken more notice of the stories and reminiscences my nan and mum used to tell me. My grandparents died quite a long time ago, and my mum has sadly given up her memory to the ravages of Alzheimers. The treasure trove of family history has, for the most part, gone with it. I wish that I had these strories written down, as my own memory of them is starting to fade, too. There are some that are still with me though, and one is the story my nan used to tell me of selling Hot Cross Buns at Easter, in pre-World War I Cardiff.

My nan's family were originally a farming family from Hereford, but at some point they lost the family farm, eventually moving to Cardiff around 1900, when my nan was two. They began a dairy business, delivering milk and other goods from the back of a horse drawn cart. As she grew slightly older, my nan would often accompany her father, sitting up front with him while he made the deliveries. At Easter time, they would also deliver Hot Cross Buns along with the milk. In the early morning, the cart would travel the streets of Cardiff, with my great grandfather calling out to attract customers 'One a penny, two a penny, Hot Cross Buns'. I can't see a Hot Cross Bun without thinking of that.

With Easter drawing near, Amy's choice for this week's Bake Off was Hot Cross Buns (from Mary Berry's 100 Cakes and Bakes). This is, again, something that I have never made before, so was pleased to give them a go. It took me two attempts though, as a disaster with the first batch meant that I had to bin them (I added way too much liquid to the dough and was left with a sticky mess resembling wall paper glue - must remember to read the recipe properly and preferably with my glasses on!). The second batch was much more successful.

Ingredients ( makes 12 )

450g strong white flour
1 level tspn salt
1 level tspn mixed spice
1 level tspn cinnamon
1/2 tspn grated nutmeg
7g fast action yeast
50g caster sugar
50g melted butter
150ml tepid milk
5 tbspn tepid water
1 large egg, beaten
75g currants
50g chopped candied peel
Dough after mixing but before first proove
Essentially, the dough is made using strong white bread flour, sugar, yeast, salt, spices and currants and candied peel. You then add the wet ingredients of melted butter, milk, water and a beaten egg and mix to form the dough. After kneading, you leave it to rest until doubled in size, as shown below (I left mine for two hours).

The dough is then kneaded briefly again, before forming into 12  round buns, and leaving to rest again. MB's recipe suggests slashing the top of the buns with a 'X' before leaving to rest, or alternatively, using a shortcrust pastry to made the traditional white cross. I was running out of time, so took the easy route and did the simple cut cross, but clearly did not do this deeply enough, as once baked you could hardly tell there was a cross there.

Once baked, you brush a simple sugar syrup over the top to give a lovely, sticky shiny glaze.

MB's recipe calls for an oven preheated to 220 conventional / 200 fan, and then baking the buns for 15 minutes. I found that the buns turned dark brown quite quickly at this temperature (I use a fan oven and so dropped the temp to 160 after 8 minutes), and so if I made them again, would drop the temperature slightly to maybe 180 - 190 fan.

After cooling, Mike and I tried them while they were still slightly warm, spread with butter. They tasted fantastic, no one spice ovepowering the general taste, and miles better than supermarket pap. They were slightly firm on the outside, to give a hint of chewiness, but with a lovely soft centre. Another MB winner. They would be equally delicious split and toasted.

Happy Easter. Enjoy,



  1. What a lovely post, I thoroughly enjoyed your family story and it's great that you have committed it to the virtual pages of your blog for the rest of us to enjoy. I have a feeling "one a penny, two a penny" will spring to mind when I think of Hot Cross Buns from now on, too! They look delicious Xx

    1. Thanks Amy! It's definitely one massive positive to keeping the blog in allowing me to record these stories and thoughts too. I'm happy you liked it! Xx

  2. Family stories and memories are definitely ones to treasure. Thank you for sharing with us. Your hot cross buns look great! I've never tried making them myself - I'm sure it'll end up in the bin!

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Thanks Ros, definitely good memories to have and it's lovely to be able to keep them on the blog. Hopefully my sons will enjoy reading them in years to come. The recipe is quite easy - as long as yo read it properly unlike me! :)


Post a Comment

Your comments are very much appreciated.

Popular posts from this blog

Dark Indulgent Chocolate and Walnut Brownies for the Weekly Bake Off

It's been a great couple of weeks in the Bake Off , as Amy has chosen some fantastic chocolate recipes from Mary Berry's 100 Cakes and Bakes . Although I made last week's American Chocolate Ripple Cheesecake, I didn't enter it. Not because it was a disaster (it was incredibly delicious though very rich - Josh has been able to eek it out all week as he only needs a little piece to get his daily chocolate fix!), but I simply ran out of time. So this week, I decided to get my skates on and make the bake early. Particularly as it's brownies. Yes. Brownies. Those dark, fudgey, chocolatey little bites of heaven. But for me, this week was an experiment. You see, I already have a fantastic brownie recipe . It's been made countless times and been played around with to give an endless variety of treats. (Have I ever mentioned Maya Gold in brownies? Yes? Well I'll have to post about them someday soon because they are amazing - like some sort of out of body exp

Not Viennese, but Swiss Cakes for the Weekly Bake Off

One of my strongest childhood memories is the ritual of our family's Sunday Tea, which always took a certain form. My nan would put the kettle on at just before 4pm, and a pot of steaming hot tea would soon be brewed. There were sandwiches, and always, always some form of cake. Quite often, if nan and mum had had a busy weekend, it would be provided by Mr Kipling. My brother and I looked forward to this with some enthusiasm, as there were quite often French Fancies and Vienniese Whirls, which were our hands-down favourites. We could leave the Battenburg Slices, and the jam tarts were often a bit too dry  for us (definitely not as good as homemade). But the soft sweet inside of an iced French Fancy (my favourite being the lemon yellow ones), and the moistness of the Viennese Whirls were something to savour. Of course, you can still buy these. But they just don't seem to taste the same somehow. So when Amy announced this week's Bake Off challenge as the Apricot Swiss

Farmhouse Orange Victoria Sandwich for the Weekly Bake Off

I was really pleased with Amy's selection for this week's Bake Off - Mary Berry's Ultimate Cake Book was the first Baking book I bought, back in 1995 (it was first published in 1994 and by the time I bought a copy it was already on its eighth reprint). The very first recipe I did was her small all in one Victoria Sandwich, and consequently the very first cake tins I purchased were Silverwood 7" sandwich tins. They have seen many, many outings over the years, by way of this cake and the Sunday Best Chocolate Fudge Cake, also from the same book. I still have them and used them for this recipe. Interestingly, in flicking through 'Ultimate Cake Book', I caught sight of an Orange Victoria Sandwich, which is practically the same recipe as this one (size aside), with the exception of the filling, where Mary instructed that it should be 'about 4 tablespoons of orange mamalade and a little caster sugar'. Hmm, not sure about that one. I certainly loved the