I think I've posted a hot cross bun loaf recipe before, but this one, I promise you, is an improved version. I was tempted to add chocolate (obviously) but my mum insisted that it didn't belong in a hot cross bun and just sticking with the traditional ingredients was best. I really think that taking the time to make these treats at home is the best way to ensure you know exactly what is going into them. If you look at the ingredients list of any supermarket bought hot cross bun, you will see a list of chemicals and enhancers that are there to make the product last as long as possible. If you make your own hot cross buns at home (or buy from a trusted artisan bakery) you know that you won't be putting any of that crap into your body, and you will have a product that is not only fresher but tastier too!
For the loaf:
300g strong white flour
7g dried yeast
1 teaspoon salt
200ml milk (semi-skimmed)
50g caster sugar
2 teaspoons mixed spice
For the cross:
2 tablespoons strong white flour
For the glaze:
2 teaspoons apricot jam
2 teaspoons boiling water
Place the flour into a large bowl and then rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs.
Rub in the yeast and then add the sugar, spice, salt, sultanas and milk.
Mix to form a dough, adding more milk if it feels a little dry.
Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, or until it feels soft but not sticky.
Return the dough to the bowl and cover with some cling-film.
Leave the dough to rise for around 2-3 hours, or until it has doubled in size.
When the dough has risen, shape it into a ball and place onto a lined baking tray.
Cover with a tea-towel and leave to rise for about an hour, or until it has risen by half.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees c.
When the loaf has risen, mix the flour with a little water to form a paste (it needs to be pipe-able, but not too runny) and place into a piping bag.
Pipe a cross shape onto the top of the loaf and the bake for around 25 minutes, or until it has turned a dark brown colour on top.
Mix the apricot jam with the boiling water and brush all over the loaf as soon as it comes out of the oven.
Leave to cool on a wire rack before serving.