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Apr 13, 2006

Everything you always wanted to know about hot cross buns

Story PictureLast night our favourite chefs gave us a tasty recipe for holiday fish. Tonight we have prevailed upon one of Belize City’s hardest working bakers for a lesson on how to prepare a traditional Belizean favourite. News Five’s Kendra Griffith reports.

Kendra Griffith, Reporting
In homes across the country today there was a whole lot of kneading going on as Belizeans observes that Good Friday tradition of baking hot-crossed buns.

Forty-seven year old Maria Sosa, better known as Miss Poula, is continuing the tradition passed down through generations of mothers in her family. She has been making hot crossed-buns since she was nine years old.

Maria Sosa, ?Miss Poula?
?Well I was helping my grandmother when they used to do it.?

Kendra Griffith
?So it is from her that you got this recipe??

Maria Sosa ?Miss Poula?
?From my grandmother … Actually my great grandmother, but I used to help. When my great grandmother passed, then my grandmother and then I start doing it.?

Miss Poula generously shared the heirloom recipe:

Take five pounds of flour, two pounds brown sugar, one pound of butter, two pot spoon vanilla, one tablespoon cinnamon powder, a medium nutmeg grated, five eggs, one pack coconut powder, three envelopes of yeast, and two to three cups of water.

Knead the mixture thoroughly and let rise for forty-five minutes. Knead again, then ball off, flatten, and add your cross. Let the buns rise for about fifteen to twenty minutes and then bake in three hundred and fifty degree oven in a greased pan for forty-five minutes to an hour. The recipe yields approximately fifteen buns.

Although she has been baking the buns for almost thirty years, Miss Poula only went commercial five years ago. … And business is booming.

Kendra Griffith
?You get a lot of orders??

Maria Sosa, ?Miss Poula?
?A lot of orders. ?

Kendra Griffith
?How much are you making this year??

Maria Sosa, ?Miss Poula?
?I have knead already about thirty-five pounds and this will make forty pounds of flour. So this is the last for the day.?

Kendra Griffith
?How long that tek you??

Maria Sosa, ?Miss Poula?
?I got up this morning from five to do the first amount.?

But where did the cross bun tradition come from? According to Dean of St. John?s Cathedral, Lloyd Neal, like many practices, its origins lay in pre-Christian pagan traditions.

Lloyd Neal, Dean, St. John?s Cathedral
?The pagans celebrated this season as their fertility season of mother earth replenishing itself and coming alive and many of the Christian traditions have come out of pagan feasts. Many people see this as contrary, but that?s where they come from. Same thing with Christmas, when we look at the Christmas tree and the Christmas lights and Santa Clause, all these different things surround that time, so too do we have these things surrounding the Easter season.?

?We think of the Easter egg for example that has to do with new birth, new life, fertility. Same thing with the Easter bunny, the Easter rabbit: fertility and growth and development. And of course the hot cross bun. … That was symbolic of the risen Christ. The cross without Christ on it, emphasising that Christ was risen indeed.?

Miss Poula is trying to keep the baking tradition alive in her own family, but as with most cultural customs today, she?s not having much luck.

Kendra Griffith
?Is this something that you are passing on to your other children??

Maria Sosa, ?Miss Poula?
?They don?t want to learn, they are lazy. Nobody wants to do it you know, they just come around and say, no dah too much work.?

Kendra Griffith
?So what wah happen? Who wah continue make the cross bun for the family??

Maria Sosa, ?Miss Poula?
?I have a daughter in Houston and she loves to cook, so I guess she is going to continue it. She do it only for her family, so she?s the only one.?

So what will Miss Poula do for Easter now that she?s done with all the baking?

Maria Sosa, ?Miss Poula?
?Just rest the day and then in the evening I?ll go to the procession and that?s it.?

Kendra Griffith
?Until next year.?

Maria Sosa, ?Miss Poula?
?Until next year all over again on Holy Thursday.?

Kendra Griffith for News Five.

St. John’s Cathedral Good Friday service starts at one and runs until three in the afternoon, while the Easter Sunday Mass begins at six-thirty in the morning.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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