Hot cross buns are a favourite of mine and although I like most Easter foods – Simnel Cake, Easter Eggs, and those chocolate crispy cakes with mini eggs on to – I am completely obsessed with hot cross buns and bake these for an extended Easter period. Who know, perhaps even into Summer. A rich yeasty glazed bun that toasts to perfection, packed with flavour and amazing fruit, that just needs a good slather of salted butter to melt into the warm crumb, it’s everything I want Easter baking to be?

Having lived in various countries across the world I’ve often had to improvise and move away from the classic ingredients in baking. If you go and buy hot cross buns today you’ll find the “traditional” bake does not have any dogmatic and annoying protection, people experiment with all kinds of flavour combinations.

There are a few must-haves and, for me, these are limited to: a good rich spice flavour, and a soft, chewy crumb. Although crosses are iconic and a must if you want to Instagram your bakes, from a texture and taste perspective you can definitely leave them off.

I’m always looking for ways to create bakes that are big on flavour and a joy to eat but are a little healthier at the same time. Enriched bread traditionally uses butter, sugar and eggs, but since dried fruit is intensely sweet, and you use a lot of it in hot cross buns, you don’t need any added sugar.

The dates in particular in this recipe provide a warm rich sugar hit. I’ve lived in various African countries and finding butter was often an issue. I looked for different ways of providing a rich or creamy addition to cakes or breads and found that while avocado is perfect for cakes, for bread I discovered an unlikely winner, ripe plantain or banana. The plantain has to be really ripe and like bananas it adds moisture and can be a binding agent, but unlike bananas do not have an overpowering flavour. Mixed with coconut milk you get a luxurious enriched bread without the need for butter.

Check out my recipe here, hope you get completely taken with them!