The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Dan Lepard's Spiced Stout Hot Cross Buns -

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Doughtagnan's picture

Dan Lepard's Spiced Stout Hot Cross Buns -

As it is Easter I made my 1st ever bun attempt (ditto using a piping bag for the crosses!) the recipe is from Dan Lepard's baking column in the UK Guardian newspaper. As iv'e never used a piping bag before I should have opted for the atheist no cross buns!, but I managed okay despite a piping bag malfunction (it split) which caused a little spillage. The result was very tasty and would have been richer if I had used Mackeson Stout (I subbed a Dark Mild Ale). For the recipe please follow this link

And the pic's before and after baking with compulsory crumbshot before a good helping of french butter, cheers Steve




SylviaH's picture

I enjoy seeing lot's of Hot Cross Bun versions at Easter because they are very much a favorite around my home.

I just used a square of parchment paper cut diagonally and then rolled it into a funnel, snipped off the end and tucked the top corner into the bag for securing it from unraveling...or most the time when I have the small plastic sandwich bags available just pour your piping filling into it, snip off the end and pipe away...then toss the messy bag.

Happy Easter Holidays!


RobynNZ's picture

Thanks for the report on Dan Lepard's HCB. I have made up lots of different formula this year but didn't manage to fit his in, but like the retardation step to make timing a bit easier. Not at home at present but doubt I'll be able to wait til next year before trying it too. Frustratingly I can't see your photos on Safari.  Tried switching to Firefox only saw the first row of buns at the top of & they looked delicious and the crosses look good too.

I mix up 60g flour, 1/4tsp baking powder, 1 tbsp of oil and about 60ml of water and mix to a thick pipeable batter (this is more than enough for 16 buns - I cut half, quarter, eight, 16 and then only weigh the 'odd men out') . I put the batter in a ziplock bag, seal it, then  just cut off the tiniest bit of corner to pipe tidy crosses (start with a small cut you can always make it bigger & there is another corner if the first one doesn't work out!).  These crosses are tasty and the baking powder and oil make them much less shellac like. I like them flat, not proud from the bun, and bake 'til there is a hint of colouring in the crosses.

I've found it most interesting reading everyone's ideas and preferences  regarding HCB. Many of the USA contributors prefer a sweet cross. There is a lot of variation in baking temperatures too. The spice blend that hits the spot for our family (for approx 500g flour 1tsp cinnamon, 3/4 tsp mixed spice, 1/4 tsp allspice,  1/4 tsp nutmeg and a good pinch of cloves) is just one of many variations. Dan even uses stout. I like sultanas (golden raisins) and candied peel - this is the usual combo in NZ, but it would seem many people use currants. Some bake the buns close to get soft edges others choose to bake them individually to get more crust.   Someone said the cross should be in the shape of the crucifix cross (I've never seen that here). Hamelman tells us 'the cross is an ancient Celtic representation of the four seasons'. And so on, the traditions both continue and evolve. 

Everyone here enjoyed the buns I made based on Foolish Poolish's sourdough version, with adaption for my preference for spice blend, cross mix and glaze. They asked can you make some more. I was about to say 'yes, next year' but then thought I don't have to limit the formula to HCB, so tomorrow the buns will be in the shape of Easter bunnies.

Cheers, Robyn

Doughtagnan's picture

Hi Robyn, thanks for the piping mix tip, mine could have been a bit thicker and the dried fruit mix I used was the raisins and semi dried apricot which I didn't soak overnight as they were ready to eat ones. Re the spices, I was even thinking of adding some ground cardamom and I like the sound of your mix. I have been playing around using Google Chrome browser and the pics are loading fine. It is strange how on some pages the pics do not load, maybe it's because you are so far away!. Happy baking.

Cheers, Steve

Zeb's picture

Hi Steve, I made three lots of buns this week (!), two DL's and a botched JH which ended up with choc chips in and the last lot were these ones of Dan's and they were definitely fun to make. That overnight starter was something else! I tracked down some Mackesons in Sainsburys but I am not a stout expert so wouldn't know really.  I thought they were a bit harder to shape smoothly, I guess because the pre soaked fruit is harder to control in the dough than regular dried fruit, but it gives a wonderful juicy result doesn't it?   I love your photos as they really show the character of the dough.   Cheers Zeb

Doughtagnan's picture

Hi Zeb, these were a little tricky to shape and I kept oiling my hands, but the slightly rustic looks marks them out as home rather than factory made!. I am a real beer fan so any full flavoured dark ale/stout/mild would be fine, Guinness would be a good sub.

Cheers, Steve