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Easter 2023

How buns with a cross became a Good Friday staple

A short history of the Hot Cross Bun, a recipe, and where to find them readymade in Kolkata during Easter

Jaismita Alexander | Published 02.04.23, 07:17 PM


Hot cross buns.

Hot cross buns.


One a penny, two a penny.

Hot cross buns…

How can we ever forget this nursery rhyme when we talk about the Good Friday Buns! While Hot Cross Buns may not be available for pennies anymore, they continue to be an Easter staple enjoyed hot from the oven or straight from the pack, slathered in butter.

History and origin of Hot Cross Buns

Interestingly, Hot Cross Buns pre-date Christianity. “It is believed that these buns were made to celebrate Eostre, the goddess of fertility, by the pagans. The four quarters of the cross on top of the buns were said to represent the phases of the moon while the bun itself symbolises rebirth after winter,” says Vikas Kumar, director, food production, Flurys.

People also believed Hot Cross Buns to have medicinal and magical powers. In London, there is a historic pub called The Widow’s Son, built on the site of an old widow’s cottage. After the widow died, a collection of Hot Cross Buns were found hanging in a net made by her every year in wait for her sailor son to return from sea. The tradition of adding a Hot Cross Bun to the net continued at the pub until 2017, when it closed. Behind this story lies the belief that Hot Cross Buns baked on Good Friday wouldn’t spoil till the next year.

There are many stories behind the inception of these buns

There are many stories behind the inception of these buns


Today, Christians break their fast with this bun on the evening of Good Friday. It is seen as a triumphant end to Lent’s self-denial. “Each ingredient of the bun has a distinctive meaning relating to the crucifixion of Christ,” says Alisha Alexander of Saldanha Bakery, founded by her great-grandmother in a small lane off Wellesley Street.

The secret to a ‘good’ Good Friday bun

Traditionally, the bun is baked with yeast, raisins and spices. It should have fruits aplenty and baked in a round shape. It is piped with a cross (made of flour and water paste), or slits are made on the dough to make a cross. In recent years, the Hot Cross Bun has been given multiple makeovers around the world and today you get everything from apple and cinnamon to chocolate chip varieties.

According to Kumar, the secret to a good Hot Cross Bun is the perfect balance of spice and sweetness. “Hot Cross Buns should not be overly sweet or too spicy, but must have a pleasant spicy aroma and subdued sweetness and richness attributed to the use of milk and butter in the dough,” says the chef.

The ingredients and method are equally important to make buns that stun. “The secret to a well-baked Hot Cross Bun lies in its ingredients and the correct ratio of fruit in the dough. The whole process of making them is slow and patience is the key element,” says Alisha.

Click here for a recipe.

Hot cross buns worth crossing town for


Kookie Jar also makes these fluffy and sweet buns. You will get them at all outlets of Kookie Jar in the city.

Order: Store pickup or order through food apps

Address: Across all outlets

Contact: (033) 22816589


“At Flurys, Easter is our second-most popular event after Christmas and we sell thousands of Hot Cross Buns each year, along with our other Easter specialties. We make multiple batches of these throughout the week leading to Easter, especially on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday,” says chef Vikas Kumar.

Order: Store pickup or through food delivery platforms

Address: All outlets of Flurys

Contact: (033) 4000 7452 (Park Street outlet)


Saldanha Bakery makes soft and sweet Hot Cross Buns a few days before Good Friday. “The taste, softness, and the generous fruits in each bite makes the Saldanha’s Hot Cross Buns a favourite,” says Alisa. Placing an order is recommended.

Order: Home delivery is available in certain areas. Store pick-up is available.

Address: 19, Nawab Abdul Rahman Street, Kolkata - 700016

Contact: 9831701085 | 9830917617 | 033-22174032


Hot Cross Buns from Nahoum's

Hot Cross Buns from Nahoum's

The Good Friday buns sell like ‘hot cakes’ at Nahoum and Sons, the Jewish confectionery in the heart of New Market. The bakery bakes them a few days before Good Friday.

Order: Store pick-up only

Address: New Market, Taltala

Contact: (033) 2252 0655

Last updated on 02.04.23, 07:17 PM

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