5:20pm Friday 28th February 2014
By Rebecca Perring
The Hot Cross Bun, which originated in St Albans, arrived freshly baked at the Abbey today just in time for Easter.
Brother Thomas Rocliffe, a 14th Century monk at the city’s cathedral, developed an original recipe for the Alban Bun and distributed it to the local poor on Good Friday, starting in 1381.
For nearly seven hundred years, the Alban Bun has been a part of the Easter tradition at the Abbey and will now be available at the Abbot’s Kitchen from the start of Lent on Wednesday, March 5 through to Easter Monday.
The buns are now produced by Redbournbury Watermill, once owned by St Albans Abbey. They are hand-formed, so they are a less regular shape than ordinary hot cross buns.
The cross on the top is formed with two slices of a knife , there isn’t a piped cross on top and the bun has a distinctive, spicy taste.
Justin James, Miller at Redbournbury Mill, said: "All of us at Redbournbury Watermill are delighted to once again be working with St Albans Cathedral to produce this year's Alban Bun. It is wonderful to be renewing the relationship between two such historic buildings; Redbournbury was once the Abbey Chamberlain's mill.
"The buns we produce this year will be made from flour ground at the mill, predominantly from wheat grown at Hammonds End Farm in Harpenden. They will be baked at the mill bakery with the Cathedral's own secret mix of spices just as they were in the 14th century.
"The historic links between mill and abbey are echoed in this truly local product that sees a traditional partnership between farm, mill, bakery and abbey."
The original full recipe is a closely guarded secret but ingredients include flour, eggs, fresh yeast, currants and cardamom. The baker today stays faithful to the original 14th century recipe, with only a slight addition of some extra fruit.
Accept no bun-substitutes this year.
The Very Reverend Dr Jeffrey John, Dean of the Cathedral, said: "Recently we’ve lost touch with the significance of the bun, and its link to Holy Week and the Cross. These days it’s possible to buy Hot Cross Buns throughout the year.
"Whilst any reminder of the importance of Easter is welcomed, we’ve come to the conclusion that the Alban Bun might be a way of reaffirming the significance of the bun as a symbol of Christ’s death and resurrection."
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