Jamaica is a primarily Christian nation and all Christian holidays are held sacred there. Easter is no exception and the observance of Easter starts as early as Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is the start of Lent and generally, people decide to give up one indulgence during this time. Many people choose to give up eating red meat and chicken and stick with eating fish and seafood. At the end of Lent, which is marked by Good Friday, people begin the feast of Easter with a spiced bread dubbed Easter Bun and fried fish. The bread is a sweet bread that is studded with dried fruit and heavily spiced with nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. It is traditionally eaten with Jamaican processed cheese but it is also very delicious with mild aged cheddar cheese.
All purpose flour is best used for Easter buns. Sift the 3 cups of flour in order to prevent lumps before mixing with the wet ingredients.
Oil vs. Butter:
Butter will give good flavor, but oil will provide better moisture in this bread and that’s key. I used ¼ cup of oil in this recipe but you can also split the oil quantity and do half butter and half oil. Whenever baking dense breads, remember that oil and eggs will do the job of creating moisture if needed.
Instead of using just browning, add molasses for a deeper and richer flavor for the buns.
The buns are spiced with nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. The amount of cloves and allspice is much smaller but adds to the flavor of the buns.
I have blended fruit on hand all year round in preparation for Jamaican Christmas cakes. I added a ¼ cup for flavor, texture and moisture in the buns. The dried fruit was blended prior with a bit of Jamaican rum and full bodied red wine.
Stout vs. Malta:
In this recipe I used malta instead of stout. Either one is great. You can opt to use Dragon stout or Guiness stout in this recipe. If using stout, it’s best to heat the wet ingredients gently on low heat so the alcohol cooks off. The wet ingredients will need to cool down significantly before adding the eggs.
The bun should cook in the oven at 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour. Keep checking the center of the bun with a toothpick or skewer which if is clean once removed, indicates that the bun is properly baked.
Glazing the bun traps in moisture but also creates a tender outer layer that is traditional in this sweet bread. The bun should be glazed while it is still hot. I remove it from the tin so that I can glaze it on all sides. You may also choose to add the glaze to only the top of the buns.
- 3 cups flour
- 1 ½ cups brown sugar
- 1 cup malta (or stout)
- ¼ cup oil
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 tbsp vanilla
- 1 tbsp browning
- 1 tbsp molasses
- 4 tsps baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 2 tsps ground nutmeg
- 2 tsps cinnamon powder
- ⅛ tsp ground cloves
- ⅛ tsp ground allspice
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ cup blended fruit (optional)
- ½ cup raisins
- 10 maraschino cherries, halved
- 2 tbsps honey
- 2 tbsps strawberry or grape jelly
- 3 tbsps butter
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease and line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Allow the ends of the paper to hang over the pan. This will make it easy to lift the bun from the pan using the ends of the paper. Set the pan aside.
- In a small mixing bowl, combine malta, sugar, oil, vanilla, browning, molasses, and stir to completely dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar is dissolved, whisk in beaten eggs and set aside.
- Use a medium sieve over a large mixing bowl. To the sieve, add flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, ground cloves, ground allspice and salt. Sift the dry ingredients into the bowl.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients in the large bowl. Use a whisk to fully incorporate the liquid and flour. Do not overmix.
- Add in the blended fruit, raisins and cherries and whisk a few times to incorporate.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking tin and place on the center rack in the oven. Bake for 50 mins to an hour until a toothpick or skewer inserted comes out clean.
- While the bun is baking, gently melt the ingredients for the glaze on low heat. Once the bun is removed from the oven, glaze it immediately while still hot.
- Allow the bun to cool, slice and serve with Jamaican cheese or mild aged cheddar cheese.
Storage: The bun can be stored in a cool dry place in an airtight bag for up to 2 weeks.