I love a well-made hot cross bun but I haven’t had much time this week, so if you find yourself in a similar position, you might like this fruity, spiced soda bread. It’ll feed a lot more people than a bag of HCBs from the shop.
The raising agent is baking powder, so there’s no hanging around waiting for dough to rise, which if you’re trying to cram this into an already over-crowded evening before the house fills with (naturally, much loved) family for Easter, that’s something of a bonus.
It takes a while to cook but it doesn’t need coddling while it does so. You can slope off and make dinner, have a bath, pour yourself a large glass of something ... just remember to set a timer.
Adjust the amount of sugar to your personal taste. I prefer it with the smaller amount but those with a sweeter tooth might find that a bit worthy.
You will need a large loaf tin, as this mixture is runnier than most soda breads.
Sweet and Spicy Soda Bread (makes one large loaf)
350g wholemeal flour
150g plain white flour
1 1/2 tspn bicarbonate of soda
1 1/4 tspn salt
50-80g soft brown sugar
40g pecans or walnuts, chopped
80g dried fruit (I used cranberries and sultanas)
1 tea bag (or loose-leafed equivalent, strained), for soaking the fruit
2 tspn ground ginger
2 tspn powdered cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
Grated zest of 1/2 orange (optional)
600ml buttermilk (or whole milk soured with 1 tbsp lemon juice)
2 tbsp runny honey, to glaze
Pre-heat oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6. Soak the dried fruit in strong hot tea and set aside.
Stir all the dry ingredients together, then stir in the buttermilk to form a dropping consistency. Drain the fruit and mix through, with the zest, if using.
Pour into a very well-greased 2lb/1kg loaf tin and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours (check after one hour), until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Turn out of the tin, then gently heat 2 tbsp of runny honey and brush it over the top of the loaf while it's still warm. Cool on a wire rack before serving sliced and buttered. It's best eaten within a day or so of making, although it will toast and freeze well (in which case you may prefer to leave off the glaze).