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Ostara Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns have become an Ostara tradition, although the origin of these yummy treats is mysterious and quite debatable.

Some historians believe that pre-Christian Celts first marked the buns with an equal-sided cross to symbolize the earth and the sky or the sun. Others credit these buns to 5th or 6th century Greeks with the cross signifying either Christianity or being merely decorative. And then yet others attribute Hot Cross Buns to a 12th, 13th or possibly 14th century Christian monk, with the cross denoting that the buns were dairy-free for Lent or that Lent was over as the buns were not dairy-free. There just isn’t any real consensus as to the actual beginnings of Hot Cross Buns.

Whatever the actual history behind these delicious treats, for contemporary Pagans, Hot Cross Buns symbolize balance and centering, as the arms of the cross cut into the buns are equal in length, meeting exactly in the center. They also signify the relationship between Earth and the sun during Ostara, with daylight and nighttime being of equal length. So, to share the magickal balance and centering of the spring equinox, why not bake a batch of Hot Cross Buns to enjoy with family and friends?

Baking, cooking or otherwise preparing food for magickal purposes is recipe magick. This magick as no less potent than any other spellwork. As such, prepare this recipe mindfully, thinking of your magickal intentions  during each and every step.



for the buns

  • 1 package (2¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm milk, 40° to 46° C (105° to 115° F)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/8 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 – 3½  cups all-purpose white flour
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup dried currants
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • butter or canola oil for greasing bowl and pans

for the optional icing

  • 1 cup powdered icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


for the buns

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk.
  2. In a larger bowl, using a hand mixer or sturdy whisk, cream the egg, butter, granulated white sugar, salt, and cinnamon together.
  3. Add the milk-yeast mixture and 2 cups of flour. Mix well.
  4. Stir in the raisins and dried currants.
  5. Start adding the remaining flour in 1/4 cup increments, until you have a soft, sticky dough.
  6. Knead the dough on a floured surface until it is smooth and no longer sticky, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  7. Place the dough in a large, greased. Flip it over to make sure all sides of the dough are greased.
  8. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and allow to rise in a warm place until the dough is doubled in size, approximately 45 to 60 minutes.
  9. Punch the dough down and divide into 12-15 portions.
  10. Space 2″ apart on a greased baking sheet and cover with a tea towel. Allow to rise in a warm place until once again doubled in size, about 35 to 45 minutes.
  11. Using a sharp knife, cut a cross (+) on the top of each bun.
  12. Whisk the egg yolk with 1 tablespoon of water and brush lightly on the tops of the buns.
  13. Bake in a preheated 375° for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove the buns from the pan to cool on a wire rack.

for the optional icing

  1. Mix the powdered icing sugar and vanilla extract with 1 tablespoon of milk. Add a bit more milk if the icing isn’t thin enough for drizzling.
  2. Once the buns are cooled, drizzle them with the icing, if desired.
  3. Alternatively, sprinkle the buns with a bit of powdered icing sugar, if preferred, instead of drizzling icing.

Makes 12-15 buns.

Photo: Man Vyi · Wikimedia · CC0 1.0

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