by Jerry Windley-Daoust
On Saturdays, I take two of my kids to piano lessons at Steve Nagel’s house, and often stay to chat while the kids have their lessons with his granddaughter. (Steve is the former editor in chief at Saint Mary’s Press, and designs many of our books, among other things here at Peanut Butter & Grace.) Being foodies, Steve and his wife often have something delicious to share with the piano students after their lessons…and sometimes their parents, if they’re lucky.
Last Saturday as I sat down at the Nagel’s big kitchen table, Steve slid a plate of freshly made hot cross buns toward me.
Notice how there are only two left in the picture for this recipe? We didn’t start with two. (In my defense, my kids helped.) They were sooo good, I persuaded Steve’s wife, Barb, to share her recipe so I could crash Cooking with Catholic Kids. You can be sure we’ll be cooking these spicy buns sometime this Easter weekend.
As we were sampling the buns, I wondered out loud why they’d be served on Good Friday, a day when we’re supposed to be fasting, for heaven’s sake! Somehow a spicy, sweet bun with white frosting seems a little not in keeping with the spirit of the day, kind of like having lobster on Lenten Fridays because it’s “fish.”
Turns out I’m not the first one to wonder about this, and Catholic Cuisine went to the trouble of researching the question. Their theory, which seems pretty plausible to me, is that the buns were originally just scored with a cross, and that the frosting was added only recently.
But even if you decide to refrain from indulging in a sugary treat on Good Friday, it’s very traditionally to make and eat sweet breads throughout the Easter season, and this surely qualifies. So I say let’s recast hot cross buns as an Easter treat! Who’s with me?