I think it’s mandatory that hot cross buns get toasted unless they come straight out the oven, so turning the dough into a loaf is far more practical. Most toasters are not wide enough to take half a cut hot cross bun, and they tend to get stuck in all the metal bits and the raisins drop out which later burn. In 2015 I made what I am sure are the perfect hot cross buns with stout so decided not to reinvent the wheel here. Why mess with perfection? There is enough dough to make 2 medium loaves or one loaf and 8 hot cross buns. This way you get the best of both worlds and what I did. As I live alone, I sliced up the loaf and stored it in my freezer to be toasted off whenever I need my fruit bread fix.
The buns take a while to make in that you start the prep the day before, but the process is pretty effortless. They are made by hand with very little kneading involved. I’ve changed the original recipe slightly by soaking the fruit in Earl Grey tea vs strong black tea. The bergamot just gives another subtle layer of flavour and I’ve upped the spice ratios a smidge. I like my hot cross buns fairly spicy. Because I’m a food stylist, I decided to make a citrus-infused glaze to drizzle over the top. This make the loaf a little prettier but is totally optional.
If I’m not eating them straight out the oven, I love to toast them. Always served with lashings of butter melting right into the core of them.
This recipe makes 1 medium loaf and 8 hot cross buns, or 2 medium loaves, or 16 – 18 hot cross buns. Any excess can be frozen. I like to use a mix of raisins and cranberries, but you could use all of one or the other.
Hot cross bun loaf/bun recipe
- 340ml stout
- 2 tsp instant dry yeast
- 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 11/2 tsp mixed spice
- 870g flour (divided)
- 100g citrus peel
- 150g raisins
- 150g dried cranberries
- 100g soft dried apricots, finely chopped
- 250ml strong black Earl Grey tea or Ceylon
- 1 large free-range egg
- 50g melted butter
- 50g caster sugar (plus extra for glaze)
- 1 ½ tsp salt
Glaze for the loaf (optional)
- 1/2 cup of icing sugar
- Zest of half an orange or clementine and some of the juice
Prepare the mix the night before by mixing the stout, spices, yeast and 320g of the flour in a large bowl. Mix to combine everything and leave covered overnight.
Brew a strong cup of Earl Grey tea in 250ml boiling water and pour this over the raisins, dried cranberries, peel and apricots in a separate bowl. Leave this overnight.
The following day, mix the egg and melted butter with the fruit, and then stir this into the beer and spice batter. Add the remaining 550g flour, sugar and salt. Tip this onto a work surface and briefly knead to form a large ball. Leave for 10 minutes. Lightly oil your hands and knead the dough for 10 seconds, leave for 10 minutes, then repeat twice more at 10-minute intervals, then leave for an hour covered with a tea towel in a warm spot. You knead it for a total of 4 times.
Using a bread cutter or sharp knife, divide the dough in half. Either make one or 2 loaves with this or divide the other half of the dough (or all the dough) into 100g pieces (use a scale to make this easier and to achieve consistency) and shape them into balls. Arrange these on a large baking tray lined with baking paper so they are just touching each other. Cover with a tea towel and place in a warm spot for 90 minutes.
Preheat the oven before the proving has finished. If you are making buns, mix a little flour with water to form a runny paste consistency (use an electric whisk to get this smooth if necessary). Place in a plastic piping bag and cut a very small edge off the tip. Pipe crosses on each ball of dough.
Bake at 200C (180C fan-assisted) for 25 minutes for buns and about 35 minutes for the loaf. Loosely cover the loaf and buns with a sheet of tin foil to prevent over-browning. Mix 2 tablespoons of castor sugar with 2 tablespoons of water and brush this over the hot cross buns and loaf as they come out the oven. Serve with lashings of butter.
To make the glaze for the loaf (optional)
Mix the zest and icing sugar and add the juice bit by bit until you have a thick but slightly runny consistency. This just finishes off the loaf beautifully but is totally optional.
A few more delicious bread recipes:
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