Cakes & Bakes: Hot cross loaf

Home-made hot cross loaf | H is for Home

Easter has come around again. I can’t believe I’ve never made hot cross buns, one of the most the traditional foods of this time of year. I almost never eat them, they traditionally contain orange and lemon peel and zest which my digestive system doesn’t seem to enjoy.

Spiced syrup for glazing hot cross loaf

batter for making cross on hot cross loaf

Baking my own means that I can omit those ingredients and making a hot cross loaf means it’s much easier to toast – the best way to eat it! I bought three, what look to be original Victorian, loaf tins this week. I’ve been looking forward to trying them out on something.

Trio of Victorian loaf tin

Adding starter to flour

I adjusted a hot cross buns recipe from Emmanuel Hadjiandreou’s How to Make Bread. It’s probably the favourite of all my bread-making books because of all the great photos… and the fact that he has a bread-making method where there’s minimal kneading involved.

mixing dried fruit with dried spices

Mixing dried fruit into hot cross loaf dough

There are three main stages – the first two can be done a day or more in advance, allowing you to pace your bread-making and get other things done in between if you’re busy.

hot cross loaf dough in vintage tins

piping on to the top of hot cross loaf

The recipe made two medium-sized loaves, the best hot cross bread I’ve ever eaten. A gorgeous flavour and texture, toasted and slathered in butter… yum!

Hot cross loaf
Yields 2
For the glaze
  1. 225ml water
  2. 75g sugar
  3. 1 cinnamon stick
  4. 3 cloves
  5. 2 star anise
For the crosses
  1. 45ml water
  2. 20ml vegetable oil
  3. 40g plain flour
  4. ¼tsp salt
For the dough
  1. 10g fresh yeast or 5g active dry yeast
  2. 40g sugar
  3. 200ml warm water
  4. 200g plain flour
  5. 150g sultanas
  6. 150g currants
  7. 1tsp ground ginger
  8. 1tsp ground cinnamon
  9. ¼tsp ground cloves
  10. 200g strong bread flour
  11. ¼tsp salt
  12. 90g butter, softened
  13. 1 egg, beatenHome-made hot cross loaf ingredients
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For the glaze
  1. Put the water, sugar, cinnamon, cloves and star anise in a small saucepan.
  2. Heat and bring up to a boil
  3. Take off the heat and set aside in a cool place to allow the the spices to infuse. This glaze can be made a day in advance and stored in the fridge to use repeatedly for this recipe
For the crosses
  1. In a measuring jug, combine the water and oil
  2. In a small bowl, mix the flour and salt
  3. Add the oil mixture to the flour & salt mixture and combine well until you get a soft, smooth paste
  4. Cove and set aside in a cool place until needed
For the dough
  1. Grease two 450g/1lb loaf tins
  2. In a (larger) mixing bowl, weigh out the yeast. Add the sugar and water and stir until dissolved
  3. Add the plain flour and combine until well mixed. This is the pre-ferment
  4. Cover the bowl and let ferment in a warm place until doubled in size - about half an hour
  5. While the pre-ferment rises, weigh out the dried fruit and spices, mix together and set aside
  6. In another (smaller) mixing bowl, mix together the strong bread flor and salt. This is the dry mixture
  7. Pull small pieces off the butter and lightly rub into the dry mixture using your fingertips until there are no more big lumps of butter
  8. Add the egg and risen pre-ferment to the flour mixture and combine with your hands until it comes together
  9. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes
  10. After the 10 minutes, with the dough remaining in the bowl, pull a portion of the dough up from the side ans press it in the middle. Turn the bowl slightly and repeat this process with another portion of the dough
  11. Cover the bowl again and let stand for 10 minutes
  12. Repeat steps 9 & 10 three times
  13. Add the reserved dried fruit mixture to the dough and knead gently until thoroughly mixed in
  14. Cover and let rise for half an hour
  15. Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour
  16. Transfer the dough to the floured work surface and divide into 2 equal pieces
  17. Form each piece into rounded oblongs and place into the two greased loaf tins
  18. Cover and allow to rise until doubled in size
  19. About 20 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 220ºC/425ºF/Gas mark 7. Place a roasting tin at the bottom of the oven to preheat. Fill a cup with water and set aside
  20. Fill a piping bag with the reserved mixture for the crosses. Pipe a cross across the top of each loaf
  21. Put the loaf tins into the oven, pour the reserved cupful of water onto the hot roasting tin and lower the temperature to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4
  22. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown
  23. Remove from the oven, brush lightly with the reserved glaze
  24. Allow to cool before slicing (toasting) and serving
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Adapted from How to Make Bread
Adapted from How to Make Bread
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  • helen0903

    This looks sooo yummy 🙂