Make a Perfect Hot Cross Loaf This Easter

Filled with dried fruit, candied citrus peel, flavoured with mixed spice, and marked with a cross, hot cross buns are an essential part of Easter. But this time we will turn them into a loaf.

You can find a dedicated recipe for buns on my channel in the Breads of Easter playlist. Although, you can use this recipe to make buns too. It is even simpler than the other one.

Simplicity is the main reason for this recipe. Instead of rolling a bunch of buns, we will make a couple of cute little loaves. It will be like eating a giant hot cross bun!

You could even slice, toast, and top it with jam or anything you fancy.

A couple of things to note when making this or any other hot cross bun recipe: Mixed spice contain cinnamon and nutmeg. Both are ingredients which slow down yeast activity. That is one of the reasons why it takes longer to ferment a dough containing them. Sugar is the second ingredient that slows down fermentation, contrary to popular belief.

So, if your kitchen is a bit cool or if your dough is a bit cooler after mixing, then be prepared to leave it to ferment for longer.

For those who are not familiar with mixed spice or candied peel – Mixed Spice is a powdered spice mix which contains cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander, caraway, ginger, and cloves. Candied peel is a mix of lemon and orange peel that is cooked in sugar syrup. It is also known as mixed peel. Both ingredients are commonly sold in supermarkets here in the UK.

If you would like to make buns instead of loaves, then divide the dough into 12 equal pieces during the dividing step. Pre-shape and rest the same way as I show in the video. Finally, shape into rounds and place on a non-stick paper lined tray. The final proof may take a little less time. Bake them for 25 – 30 minutes.

This recipe makes two 500g (1lb) loaves or 12 buns.

Watch the video down below for detailed instructions.


For the dough

400g (14.1oz) white bread flour

7g (0.24oz) instant dry yeast or 8.4g (0.3oz) active dry yeast or 21g (0.74oz) fresh yeast

8g (0.28oz) salt

80g (2.8oz) softened butter

60g (2.1oz) sugar

12g (0.42oz) mixed spice

100g (3.5oz) currants

50g (1.75oz) candied peel

240g (8.45oz) cold milk *

*To learn more about dough temperature control click here.


For the crossing paste –

30g (1oz) flour

30g (1oz) water


For the sugar glaze –

20g (0.7oz) sugar

20g (0.7oz) water

Bring up to a boil just before the bread comes out the oven.


  1. In a large bowl combine the milk, yeast, salt, sugar, and mixed spice. Stir well to dissolve the salt and sugar, and to hydrate the yeast. Add the flour. Mix to a dough.
  2. Tip the dough out on the table and knead for 5 minutes to get the gluten going.
  3. Stretch the dough out and add the butter to it. Wrap the dough around the butter and press everything together. Work the butter and dough for a minute.
  4. Keep kneading for another 5 minutes. It will be sticky and messy to begin with, but it will become cohesive and smooth in a couple of minutes. *Desired dough temperature 25C – 26C (77F – 79F). If your dough is warmer, then it will ferment more rapidly. If it is cooler, then it will take longer. Adjust proofing time accordingly.
  5. Cover and rest for 30 minutes.
  6. Stretch the dough out and fold in the currants and candied peel. Knead a few times.
  7. Cover and ferment for 1.5 hours.
  8. Fold.
  9. Cover and ferment for 1.5 hours.
  10. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Pre-shape.
  11. Rest for 30 minutes.
  12. Shape and place into loaf tins. *See video. The tins I use are meant for 500g (1lb) dough. You could make one huge loaf, but then it will take longer to bake, and it may become too dark before being fully cooked internally. If you do want to make a huge loaf, then use a longer and wider tin rather one that is narrow and tall.
  13. Final proof 2 hours. *During the final hour of fermentation preheat your oven to 160C (320F) fan on.
  14. Make the paste. Mix the flour and water until smooth. Transfer to a piping bag and cut the tip off.
  15. Cross the loaves and bake for 35 minutes.
  16. As soon as they come out the oven brush them with the hot sugar syrup glaze.
  17. Leave to set for 10 minutes.
  18. Remove from the tin and leave to cool


Enjoy your hot cross bread ?


Keep in mind that the conditions in each kitchen are different, so fermentation times may vary for you. It is up to the baker to control the bread and react accordingly.

Your oven may be different too, so your baking time may vary.

Watch the video here

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