Hot cross bun loaf

This bread is a-ma-zing, and seriously shouldn’t just be eaten at Easter – feel free to leave off the cross bit and just enjoy the buttery fruity loaf. Yes it takes a bit of effort and time to make, although the actual hands on time isn’t extensive or tricky at all, so I try to get the ball rolling on a Friday evening, make the bread at a leisurely pace throughout Saturday and then try not to scoff it all on Sunday. Simples. Makes 2 loaves, both of which need tins of whatever shape you can find (see bundt and loaf shapes that I used below), and I’d highly recommend using a stand mixer for this because there’s a whole lot of mixing involved.

Ingredients

Dough starter:

120g ’00’ flour

0.25tsp fast action dried yeast

Large pinch of salt

80ml room temperature water

Dough:

100ml orange juice

250g dried mixed fruit + peel

450g ’00’ flour

110 milk, just warm

45g beaten egg

10g salt

1 tsp fast action dried yeast

130ml room temperature water

60g caster sugar

60g unsalted butter (soft)

Cross topping:

40g plain flour

20g self raising flour

Pinch of caster sugar

Pinch of salt

2 tsp veg oil

Any remaining egg from the dough

1 tbsp marmalade to glaze

Method

  1. The night before you want to bake, mix the dough starter ingredients together in a small bowl, then cover with cling film and leave to rise at room temperature for 12 hours.
  2. The next morning, mix the dried fruit with the orange juice in a small bowl and leave to soak, giving it a stir every now and then,
  3. Fit the dough hook to your mixer, and put the risen starter in the big bowl. Add the flour, slightly warmed milk, 45g beaten egg, salt, yeast and 130ml room temperature water. Hold onto any leftover beaten egg, you’ll need it later.
  4. Get your motor running, slowly at first, and mix it all together, then up the speed to knead the dough for at least 5 minutes until smooth.
  5. Tip in the sugar, spoonful by spoonful – the dough will get stickier, but keep mixing and it’ll all be good in a few minutes.
  6. Next, add the butter in soft lumps – it’ll look like it isn’t mixing in properly, but just keep it moving and let the dough hook do its job.
  7. Drain any remaining orange juice from the fruit, and add that in too, mixing on a low speed until fully incorporated.
  8. Scrape the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave somewhere warm to rise for at least 2 hours. It should double in size.
  9. Grab whatever tins you are going to use – loaf tins, large cake tins, bundt tins, and grease them.
  10. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface, gently pressing it down in order to remove any large air pockets.
  11. Cut into large equal (ish) portions, then shape into balls by folding the dough in on itself and put the balls into the tins. Three balls work well in a loaf tin, 5 worked well in my 9″ bundt tin. It’s absolutely fine for them to be touching, you want them to rise together to form a loaf.
  12. Cover the tins with a tea towel and put them back in the warm place to prove again, for another couple of hours.
  13. Make the cross topping by mixing all of the ingredients (bar the marmalade and beaten egg) in a small bowl, then scrape the whole lot into a piping bag and set aside.
  14. Heat oven to 180C fan.
  15. Brush the risen dough balls with the remaining beaten egg, then pipe the stripes. I find that a pair of scissors come in handy as the topping is a bit stretchy and reluctant to break off when you want it to.
  16. Bake for 25 minutes.
  17. Heat the marmalade with a slurp of water, remove the loaves from the oven and then from their tins and brush over the glaze while the bread is still nice and warm.
  18. Leave to cool, then munch away. PS it makes great toast!

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