Whilst I don’t celebrate Easter in the traditional sense – Sunday lunch, going to church and all that – I do celebrate Easter in the sense that I’ll consume any and all Easter candy that I can get my tubby hands on. From chocolate bunnies glistening with richness to speckled eggs as round and colourful as balloons, I’ll eat them all (over the course of many months because I’m a hoarder like that). But to me, nothing tastes more like Easter than a hot cross bun. Soft and fluffy, warm and spicy, topped with a customary white cross, hot cross buns are the epitome of Easter.
I decided I had to try my hand at baking hot cross buns, but all of the recipes I found were too complicated or had ingredients that I couldn’t be arsed to go buy. Then I came across the idea of a giant hot cross bun loaf, which not only takes the the traditional hot cross bun to the extreme but is also incredibly easy to make. With a brittle and crispy crust, and a dense and chewy crumb, the loaf is more of a scone-like bread-loaf than your average fluffy bun. But like any hot cross bun, it’s scattered with raisins, topped with a giant cross and wafting with the aromas of warm spices like nutmeg and cinnamon.
If you’re a traditionalist and a giant hot cross bun is too eccentric for you, then you can use the same dough to make normal hot cross buns. After letting the dough rise for the first 30 minutes, divide the dough into nine equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball, and flatten in out slightly. Spray a 22cm baking tin with non-stick spray and place the balls in the tin. You can then follow the rest of the instructions as usual.
Toasted or plain, spread with a lick of butter and some strawberry jam or even sprinkled with some sharp cheddar, a slice of this loaf will surely get you in the Easter spirit.
Giant Hot Cross Bun Loaf
Hot Cross Bun Loaf
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup white sugar
- 1½ tsp instant yeast
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp salt
- ¾ cup raisins
- ⅓ cup softened butter
- ⅔ cup milk
- 1 whisked egg
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp milk
- 1 tsp softened butter
- 2 tbsp boiled water
- 2 tsp white sugar
Hot Cross Bun Loaf
In a large bowl, sift together flour, yeast, spices and raisins. Mix them together, then make a well in the centre
Heat the milk in the microwave until lukewarm, then add the butter. Stir until the butter has properly dissolved and the milk has cooled down a little
Pour the milk mixture and the whisked egg into the well. Stir until the dough starts to come together, then turn it out onto a floured surface and knead until the dough is properly formed. Place the dough back in the bowl and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Set aside to rise for 30 minutes
Punch the dough down, turn it over and allow to rise for a further 30 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 180°C and spray a bread bowl with non-stick spray, and make the cross batter
In a small bowl, mix together flour and milk until properly combined. Add the butter and beat until the batter becomes smooth and thick
Pour the batter into a piping bag and snip off the top. Pipe a large cross onto the top of the loaf, then bake for 30 minutes
In a small bowl, stir together boiled water and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Once the loaf is ready, remove from the oven and brush it liberally with the sugar glaze. You might have to top up the cross as well, to make it pop more. Bake for a further 5-8 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean
- The loaf will keep the same shape as it bakes in the oven. For that reason, make sure you mould the dough into your desired shape before baking.
- I made a second loaf with speckled eggs instead of raisins and they were AMAZING.