This pull apart hot cross bun loaf bread has a rich spiced dough with plump raisins, a cinnamon sugar filling, and lovely hints of orange zest. Topped with a sticky apricot glaze and an icing ‘cross,’ this festive bread is perfect for an Easter breakfast, brunch, or as a sweet treat any time of the day.
Why You’ll Love This Hot Cross Bun Loaf
This vegan hot cross bun loaf is super delicious, and it’s also relatively easy to make. Here are a few reasons we love this bread and you will too!
- Quick & Easy Dough: The dough comes together quickly, and the filling is a simple mixture of vegan butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon.
- Flavor, Flavor, Flavor: Orange zest, nutmeg, cinnamon and raisins give the bread a unique and flavorful twist. Plus, the glaze and icing add a sweet finishing touch.
- Perfect, Unique Easter Treat: Serve it warm with your favorite cup of tea or coffee and enjoy Easter flavors in every bite.
Vegan Hot Cross Buns
Hot cross buns are a traditional Easter treat that can be traced back to the 12th century in England. These sweet and spiced buns are usually made with milk, butter, and eggs.
But, with a few simple ingredient swaps, you can make this delicious hot cross bun loaf vegan-friendly! This recipe is adapted from my eggless and vegan hot cross buns!
This hot cross bun loaf is dairy free, vegan, and eggless! I’m using vegan butter and oat milk in this recipe, both of which can be swapped with a 1:1 ratio with regular dairy based products.
Here’s what you’ll need to make it:
- Oat Milk
- Active Dry Yeast
- Granulated Sugar or Brown Sugar
- Vegan Butter
- All Purpose Flour
- Pure Vanilla Extract
- Orange Zest
Glaze & Icing Ingredients:
- Apricot Preserves, or one of these apricot jam substitutes
- Powdered Sugar + Oat Milk
Substitutions & Add Ins
- Dairy Free Milk: If you don’t have almond or oat milk, you can use any non-dairy milk of your choice. It can also be subbed with a 1:1 ratio with dairy milk.
- Vegan Butter: Instead of vegan butter, you can use melted coconut oil or vegetable shortening.
- Raisins: If you’re not a fan of raisins, you can substitute them with dried cranberries, currants, or chopped dates. You can even use chocolate chips instead if you’d like!
- Nuts: For an extra crunch, you can add chopped nuts like almonds, pecans, or walnuts to the filling.
- Spices: If you’d prefer even more flavor, you can add more cinnamon, nutmeg, or even cardamom to the dough.
- Large Mixing Bowl
- Measuring Cups or Digital Scale
- Rolling Pin
- Pastry Brush
- 8×5″ Loaf Pan
Make the Dough
STEP 1: In a measuring cup, combine the warm oat milk, half the sugar, and yeast. Let it sit for 5 minutes until the yeast is activated and frothy.
STEP 2: Mix the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, remaining sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add the orange zest and raisins, then mix until well combined. Make a well in the center.
STEP 3: Add the proofed yeast mixture, vanilla and melted butter to the well. Mix with a rubber spatula to incorporate with the dry ingredients.
📌 TIP: The dough should come together into a soft and slightly sticky ball. It should be sticky– do not add more flour!
STEP 4: Knead the dough with the spatula or your hands for 3-4 minutes in the glass bowl. If the dough appears SUPER sticky while kneading, lightly dust your hands with flour. Form the dough into a ball.
Shaping the Hot Cross Bun Loaf
STEP 5: Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let rise for 1.5-2 hours in a warm place or until doubled in size.
STEP 6: Transfer the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface, and cut into 12 evenly sized pieces (80g each). Roll the pieces into balls, then roll each ball into a circle.
STEP 7: Mix the filling ingredients (vegan butter, sugar, cinnamon) together in a small bowl until it is a smooth paste. Spread the filling onto half of the circle. Fold the circle in half to make a half-moon or semi circle.
STEP 8: Place the folded dough into the prepared loaf pan with the round side facing up. Repeat with all the dough. Cover again with a damp towel and let rise for 30 minutes.
Baking the Hot Cross Bun Loaf
STEP 9: Brush the top of the loaf with apricot preserves. If the preserves are too thick, heat them for 5 seconds in the microwave to help loosen them. Sprinkle the top with coarse sugar.
STEP 10: Bake for 45-50 minutes until golden on top. If the top is browning too much, cover the loaf with foil.
STEP 11: Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove it from the pan and let it cool completely.
STEP 12: Mix powdered sugar and oat milk in a small bowl to make the icing. You can also add a splash of vanilla extract or some orange zest for more flavor. Drizzle the icing over the bread.
This vegan hot cross bun loaf is best served warm and fresh out of the oven.
You can pull it apart or slice it into individual portions. It’s super tasty on its own, but you can also top it with your favorite vegan butter or jam. It’s perfect for breakfast, brunch, or as an afternoon snack with a cup of tea or coffee.
You could also serve this alongside my vegan ham as part of a larger Easter meal!
To store the hot cross bun loaf, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and store it at room temperature for up to 2-3 days.
📌 TIP: If serving the bread on the second or third day, reheat it in the microwave for 20 seconds or the toaster oven to help soften the bread.
You can also freeze the bread for up to 3 months. To thaw the bread, leave it at room temperature for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
Follow these simple tips for the best results!
- Activate the yeast: Make sure the milk is warm but not hot. If it’s too hot, it can kill the yeast, and if it’s too cold, it may not activate the yeast.
- Knead the dough: Kneading the dough is important to develop the gluten and create a smooth and elastic texture. If the dough is too sticky, dust your hands with flour.
- Let the dough rise: Letting the dough rise in a warm place is important to activate the yeast. Be patient! If the dough hasn’t doubled in size after 2 hours, it may be because your kitchen is too cold. You can turn on the oven for a few minutes, then turn it off and place the covered bowl inside the oven.
- Brush with apricot preserves: Brushing the warm apricot jam over the top of the bread adds a beautiful golden brown color and shine.
- The dough didn’t rise: If the dough doesn’t rise, it could be that the yeast is old or the milk was too hot or too cold. Make sure to check the expiration date of the yeast and use warm but not hot milk.
- My bread came out too dry: If the hot cross loaf was too dry, too much flour may have been added or it was slightly over-baked. I recommend measuring the ingredients with a digital scale for the best results.
- My bread was gooey inside: If the center is too moist and gooey, the bread is under-baked. Try baking it in for 5-10 more minutes.
- The top of my bread is browning too quickly: Cover the top of the hot cross bun loaf with foil for the last 10 minutes of baking if it looks like it’s browning or burning.
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