KARACHI: On the eve of Good Friday, the warm hot aroma of freshly baked hot cross buns formed a delicious cloud outside the Saddar bakeries where staff could barely meet deadlines.
The golden brown bun with a white striped cross is a symbolic reminder of Good Friday, the day when Christians commemorate the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. The buns are made from spiced dough and contain dried fruits, black currants and cinnamon, among other ingredients. They are only sold in the last week of Lent, the Christian fasting and abstinence period.
“We can’t start our day without it,” sighed customer Joseph who popped in to the famous Misquita Bakery. Others break their fast with the buns, which were lined up on trays. The line of customers was even longer and if you don’t get to the bakery early enough, you may miss out. Queues start forming at 5am.
Bakery owner Hyder was understandably reluctant to share the recipe. “People come from far and wide for them,” he remarked. But despite their fame and demand, the buns are priced at a modest Rs200 a dozen.
At the other end of the neighbourhood, where there was less hustle and bustle, Bread Centre bakery’s owner MH Mazhar explained how the Good Friday treat was made.
Inside his congested and hot kitchen, a mixing machine prepared the dough, blending yeast, almonds, flour, sugar. When the thorough mixing ends, raisins are added and small buns rolled, to be thrown into the oven for 20 minutes. “The whole procedure takes three hours,” he said, wiping the sweat off his forehead saying that it was hard work but worth it because many of their sales came on this day only.
The shop also displayed Easter eggs, the symbols of Resurrection to be given mostly to children on Easter, the Sunday preceding Good Friday. They are prepared a week before Easter.
The sweets-stuffed shells are made of chocolate and the eggs are wrapped in golden foil and tied with purple ribbons before being stored in the refrigerator. While they sell for Rs150 each, one mother, Sumaira, said she bought them for her family in advance as the price did go up closer to the day.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 6th, 2012.
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