Easter has a rich tradition of baking recipes, and we thought today would be a great day to explore a couple of popular tastes for the season!
Hot Cross Buns
Hot Cross Buns are said to represent the crucifixion with the cross on top, and the spices to represent those used to embalm Jesus for the tomb. Remember singing 'Hot Cross Buns' when you were a child? That rhyme was first written down in 1733, showing these buns were well known by that time. Some sources indicate that hot cross buns originated in St. Albans, England. It is said that a monk created them on a Good Friday to feed to the poor. Queen Elizabeth 1 decreed to banned them - apparently due to their magical powers - for eating only on Good Friday, Christmas and at funerals.
Sometimes you come across a fruit cake that is light, sweet and just not like other fruitcakes. Likely you are enjoying a piece of Simnel Cake! There are records of Simnel Bread on British menus dating back to the 11th century. Since then, as the availability of sugar increased, some bread based sweet loaf recipes were developed into cakes.
Simnel is thought to be a derivative of Latin for "fine wheat flower". Simnel Cakes have dried fruit, zest, nuts, candied peel, and often baked layered with almond paste or marzipan, and topped with eleven paste or marzipan balls. The balls are said to represent the Apostles - the "eleven who went to heaven", leaving out Judas of course.
So what about the history of this cake?
Tradition holds that the cake originally was for Lent, and specifically the fourth Sunday of Lent - which was referred to as Mothering Sunday - a rare day off for servants to visit home to their "Mother" church for that day's service. As time passed, the serving of this cake began to to shift to being served at Easter tea.
Food historian Dr. Annie Gray has researched this history, found little to base it on, and has a theory. Victorians loved cake, and went so far as to create a cake calendar that we see ingrained in Western holidays today. They also loved to have histories about their traditions, and this may be where such a specific "history" of Simnel Cake came from. There are multiple places in England where versions of this cake source from, and the history seems to of stories told over time.
We definitely don't know for sure, but love the idea of having some of this delightful cake at Tea Time!
If you are looking to do some baking soon, and want to surround yourself with charming mixing bowls and fun spatulas, plus find just the right baking pan - whether no-stick, ceramic or silicone - come visit us at the store! Location and store hours are available on our Shop Our Store page, and a suggested online shopping search can be found here: https://www.heartofthehomeyeg.ca/search/cake/
Sources: https://www.lovefood.com/news/56501/the-curious-tale-of-the-springtime-simnel-cake and https://www.goodto.com/food/recipe-collections/easter-food-traditions-11-things-you-have-to-eat-at-easter-and-why-we-eat-them-46164