The Hot Cross Bun

Our hot cross bun. A lightly spiced bun filled with raisins and topped with icing in the shape of a cross. These traditional favorites are baked during Lent.

In the heart of PA Dutch Country, Easter traditions begin a little over six weeks before Easter Day with the celebration of Fasnacht Day, otherwise known as Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday. Fat Tuesday comes the day before the kickoff of the Lent season, where Christians traditionally fast from various luxuries of in their life including rich ingredients like butter, lard, and sugar of which the Fasnacht is made. And those ingredients make Fastnachts delicious. Slightly crispy on the outside and a little less sweet than the typical doughnut, people stand in line on the day before ash Wednesday for these gourmet German Doughnuts.

While many shy away from sweet treats for Lent, there is one famous roll that has expanded in popularity from a Good Friday delicacy to a season-long splurge, the hot cross bun. These lightly spiced buns are raisin filled and each is marked on top with a icing cross. They are delightful, sweet, and can be found on kitchen tables across Lancaster County in the weeks leading up to Easter.

How they are made and decorated is also filled with a significant amount of Christian symbolism. The icing cross on top represents the crucifixion of Christ and his resurrection. You will see the same cross symbol, but made of ash, the following day on Ash Wednesday. Similarly, the spices in the dough represent the spices with which the body of Jesus was wrapped during his burial process described in John 19:40. The bread represents the body of Christ, and the breaking of it can represent both the last supper as well as Christ's death.

This origin of the hot cross bun is not totally agreed upon since, unlike today, folks in those days did not typically write about the food they were baking. The city of St. Albans in England has the earliest claim to being the buns creator, where Brother Thomas Rocliffe is said to have distributed a similar type of baked good to the poor on Good Friday beginning in 1361. Over 200 years later, a decree by London Clerk of Markets can also be found describing hot cross buns, or more specifically the apparent banning of it by the government due to its symbolism. And perhaps the earliest, most well known documents showing a hot cross bun showed up in the Poor Robin's Almanac in 1733.

An early ad for Hot Cross buns from a bakery in the 1800s

So whether you enjoy hot cross buns as part of a family tradition, or if you're simply looking for a unique way to spruce up your evening meal, stop by to try out our popular take on this historic bun. Only available during Lent!

One a penny, two a penny, Hot Cross Buns. If your daughters don't like them, give them to your sons.

Hodecker's for the Holidays

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In 1865, shortly after the end of the American Civil War, a farmer in PA Dutch Country built a brick farmhouse and a small roadside stand to sell the produce he was growing. Working in relative obscurity and without any modern distractions, old man Hodecker created and fine tuned a process that transforms celery into a delicacy that has become a holiday staple for many in and around Lancaster County.

This process that was developed back in the 19th century has been handed down through five generations of farmers. It starts in early to mid summer, when the non-GMO celery seed is planted into the ground. Over the next few months, the celery is cared for through the heat and dryness of July and August. September is often when the first crop is ready for harvest. But unlike the tough, green celery you find in most grocery stores, Hodecker celery is brought through an additional process called blanching that was developed by old man Hodecker. The blanching process involves wrapping up the celery plant around itself, and burying the stalks underground. While underground and shielded from the sun, the heart of the plant feeds on the outer parts. Over the course of weeks, the outer part of the celery becomes bitter and woody, and gets thrown away afterwards. But the inner celery gains a totally unique flavor and texture that is sweet, crisp, and amazing.

In 1950, Jay Hodecker became the 3rd generation of farmer to grow celery when he took over his grandfather's stand and continued to refine the process and grow the business. Even then, folks would come from as far as the Lehigh Valley in order to have the sweet celery at their dinner table. In 1985 the tradition continued when Merv Shenk bought the business. For 32 years, Merv and his wife Angie would continue to tradition of planting, harvesting, trenching, and blanching.  

In 2007, a 17 year old young man named Josiah from a neighboring farm began to learn the Hodecker process under Merv. Ten years later, on November 3rd 2017, Josiah Rohrer took over business and became the 5th generation of farmer to continue what old man Hodecker created in 1865. For years to come, Hodecker celery will continue to delight folks looking for sweet Hors d'oeuvre during the holidays.

Here at The Bake Shoppe, we love celebrations. We especially love the holidays. And we are always looking for new products or services to help make your special day even better. Over the past few months, it's why we've added a entire gluten free line. It's also why we now carry premium greeting cards and other celebration gifts.

And now, we are excited to announce that we have partnered with Hodecker Celery Farm to become their new retail location! The Bake Shoppe at Country Table & Hodecker Celery Farm customers will now be able to buy their holiday baked goods & bleached celery at the same location, here at 740 E Main, Mount Joy PA. We are just a five minute drive from the old Hodecker Celery Farm stand. From the old stand, go south on Esbenshade Rd for less than a mile, make a right at the Sheetz, and we are at The Country Table complex on the left hand side about two miles up the road. Directly across from Giant.

We are proud to see two Lancaster traditions, and families, come together. Just as my husband and I are continuing the Country Table bakery tradition that was passed down from my in-laws (the Daly's) we now also get to be a part of the Hodecker tradition being carried on by my brother and dad (the Rohrer's). Please stop by to celebrate the new addition to The Shoppe!

Jay Hodecker from Hodecker Celery Farm
Merv Hodecker from Hodecker Celery Farm