Walter Mencken 10:06 a.m., Feb. 6
Hot Item: Hot Cross Buns at Bread and Cie
Good Friday and Easter are coming next week, and with it, that unbelievable aroma:
Hot cross buns.
I remember it from when I could first waddle into gramma’s kitchen. The smell of nutmeg, the cloves, cinnamon, the taste of black currants, candied lemon peel, candied orange peel… sigh.
I’m certain lots of bakers will be baking them, but for sure, Bread and Cie (350 University Avenue, #C, Hillcrest, 619-683-9322). I was talking to Linda in Bread and Cie's café, and she says in the last four years the demand has skyrocketed.
“We sell thousands of them,” she says. “One church has ordered 40 dozen of them.”
Of course, it’s very much a Christian thing. But actually, hot cross buns probably go back to pre-Christian times. Saxons are said to have eaten buns marked with a cross to honor the goddess of Spring and fertility, Eostre. The cross symbolized the four quarters of the moon. The name “Oestre” is probably the root of the name “Easter.”
I may be romanticizing this, but I swear I remember grandma, when she hauled the little buns out of the oven, hollerin’ just like the hawkers used to sing in the street (or so I read):
*Hot cross buns! Hot Cross Buns! One ha’penny Two ha’penny Hot Cross buns!
If you have no daughters Give them to your sons One ha’penny Two ha’penny Hot cross buns!*
Bread and Cie will sell them on Good Friday, Saturday and Easter Sunday.
But not hot.
“‘Hot’ refers to the spiciness,” insists Linda.
Oh man. I like them hot hot, like, straight out of the oven.
“Well we can heat them for you on the panani grill if you ask,” she says.
Making hot cross buns (not Bread & Cie)