Although traditionally only available from Holy Week to Easter in the United Kingdom - they now appear all year round in our local supermarkets.
Here's my recipe - I only bother to make them in time for Easter, the rest of the time we buy baker's buns! And it HAS to be butter!
HOT CROSS BUNS
(makes approx 1 doz)
1 lb Strong white bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Mixed Spice
1 tsp Cinnamon
2 oz butter
2 tsp Easy-blend dried yeast
3oz raisins or sultanas
Zest of one lemon (or orange can be used)
2 oz caster sugar
8 fl oz milk
1 large egg
1 Vanilla pod split and the seeds removed (keep the split halves for the glaze)
2 Vanilla pod halves
Sift the flour, salt and spices into a large bowl and rub in the butter.
Mix in the yeast, vanilla seeds,sultanas, zest and sugar.
Warm (don't boil) the milk for two minutes while whisking in the egg, then add to the flour mixture.
Knead this dough on to a floured surface for 10 mins and divide into 12 balls.
Place on a baking tray, cover and leave to rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours (till double in size).
Preheat oven to Gas Mark 5.
Mix the flour with about 3-4 tablespoons of water to make a thick batter.
Using a piping bag, carefully mark out a cross on each bun.
Bake for 20-30 minutes
Heat the milk, vanilla pods and the sugar, until the sugar has dissolved then brush each bun two or three times while it cools on a wire rack.
Split and butter.