Recipe: Make our giant hot cross cinnabun

A giant hot cross bun surrounded by flowers and Easter eggs

Our giant bake combines a cinnamon roll with a hot cross bun - filled with creamy dulce de leche - Credit: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis

It seems like brighter days are around the corner. From Monday we’ll be able to meet in groups of six (or two households) hurrah. And there’s a glimmer of good weather on the horizon too. I don’t know about you, but looking out to the garden and seeing swathes of pink and white blossom, and the cheery heads of daffodils, has definitely been lifting my winter blues.  

I’ve gotten a bit carried away in the garden actually. Having grown up with fruit trees on the doorstep and a mass of fresh produce from dad’s allotment, there’s a ‘bug’ in me to stuff our corner plot with as many edible plants as possible. We’ve recently acquired gage, apple, cherry and plum trees, a honeyberry bush (extremely hardy and apparently tasting like a cross between raspberries and blueberries), a ‘Pink Lemonade’ blueberry bush, and (excitingly to me) a pink currant bush (gloire de sablons). I’ve only eaten these once, but they certainly made an impression. Far sweeter than red and black currants, they can be eaten raw (there’s only so much jelly and jam you can make) and their almost pearlescent, ethereal pink colour makes them gorgeous for decorating cakes and plates in summer time. 

As for strawberries. I couldn’t make my mind up, and now have 60 plants en route, including a few old French varieties you’d typically find on continental markets (look for mara de bois), white pineberries (have you tried them?) and Malling Centenary. This delicious variant is well worth seeking out. I find it makes the best jam and has one of the truest, sweetest strawberry flavours. It’s a favourite of Michel Roux Jr, and has previously been shortlisted for Chelsea’s Plant of the Year! 

Many of us have a garnered a newfound appreciation of our gardens throughout lockdown, and I hope this will continue. There’s something very special about planting seeds, nurturing them, watching them grow...and eating the results. Now’s the best time to get those berries and fruit bushes in the ground so get buying. 

Our gardening partner, has loads of great deals currently, including fruit trees from £3.99 and berries from £2.99. I’ve ordered some of the Colossus strawberries which grow to the size of a palm! 

Anyway. Back to the easing of restrictions. I’ve really been missing feeding people so can’t wait to have family around in the garden for Easter lunch, after what feels like forever. On the menu in the morning will be this enormous bake, seamlessly bringing together two of my favourite things – hot cross buns and cinnamon rolls. The soft, bouncy, slightly squidgy enriched dough carries lots of fruity flavours, and is made truly gorgeous by a generous layer of dulce de leche and cinnamon. Served warm with your favourite spread, it’s, I think, the ultimate Easter brunch – and makes great bread and butter pudding or French toast. If you buy a tin of caramel for this and are wondering what to do with the leftovers, simply spoon it into a pan with a few tablespoons of cocoa powder (3tbsps for half a tin) and warm on a medium heat, stirring all the time, until a spoon through it separates it. Roll into balls – voila, Brazilian truffles. 

Giant hot cross cinnabun 

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500g strong white flour 

1 sachet dried yeast 

1tsp fine sea salt 

Pinch cinnamon 

80g caster sugar 

300ml milk 

50g unsalted butter or margarine 

1 large egg 

100g sultanas 

2tbsps chopped peel (optional) 

Zest of 1 large orange (or 1tbsp orange extract) 

To fill 

4tbsps dulce de leche or tinned caramel  

1tsp ground cinnamon 

For the cross 

75g plain flour 

Cold water 

To glaze 

2-3tbsps sieved apricot jam or marmalade, lightly warmed 


Place the flour, salt, pinch of cinnamon, yeast and sugar in a large bowl and combine. Warm the milk and butter in a pan – do not boil. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the milk/butter mix and egg into the centre. Use a knife or spoon to combine well and leave to sit for 10 minutes. 

Now tip onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until bouncy and smooth. Try not to add too much flour. 

Pop the dough into a greased bowl, cover and leave somewhere warm to almost double in size, which will take around an hour. Now add the sultanas, chopped peel and orange zest or extract and knead into the dough well to evenly distribute. 

Flour a surface and roll the dough to a large rectangle about 1cm thick. Spread with the dulce de leche, leaving a 1cm edge clear around the sides. Roll up into a sausage shape from one of the longer ends and wet the edge lightly to seal.  

Now, lift the roll up so it is vertical, with the bottom touching your worksurface, and press down so the dough is a roughly 2cm thick round. Place on a lined baking sheet. 

Cover and leave for another hour. Pre-heat the oven to 220C. 

Mix the flour for the cross with enough water to make a thick, pipeable paste (about 4-5tbsps). Place in a piping bag and make a cross over the dough. 

Put the bread in the oven for 20 minutes. Then cover with greaseproof paper, turn the heat down to 200C and bake for a further 30 minutes. Push a skewer in at this stage. You shouldn’t have any raw dough come out (just caramel) so if you see raw dough, give the bread another 10 minutes. 

While still warm, glaze by brushing over the jam or marmalade. Allow to come to room temperature before cutting as the caramel filling will be very very hot!