Jamaican spice bun - this delicious sweet, spiced, fruited yeast bread is commonly eaten at Easter and makes a great alternative to hot cross buns.
It is rich, soft, dense, sticky and spicy and is incredibly moreish!
Spice bun can be found in most supermarkets here in Birmingham, is often accidentally vegan, and has been a favourite treat of mine for many years. Nothing beats homemade bread however and I'm very happy to have finally perfected my homemade version!
It has taken a lot of attempts to get it just right, this isn't the easiest or quickest bread to make, but I think that this recipe is pretty much spot on. It is just like the bakery versions of bun, but better, and it is so worth the time and effort to make!
What Is Spice Bun?:
Jamaican spice bun, also known as Easter bun or just bun, is basically Jamaica's version of hot cross buns. It is a richly spiced, sweet, fruited bread that is eaten year round but especially at Easter, often with cheese.
There are several different ways of making spice bun and it can be made either with yeast, or as more of a quick bread with baking powder instead.
This recipe is for a yeasted version. It is a heavily enriched bread, with lots of sugar, spice and fat. That means that it is very tasty, but it does take a long time to rise. It is well worth the effort however!
The texture is soft and moist, more dense than regular bread, with a warming, spicy flavour, just the right level of sweetness, and bursts of juicy fruit.
What Do I Need To Make Jamaican Spice Bun?:
Bread flour: White bread flour helps to give this bread its soft, fluffy, chewy texture. I don't recommend using wholemeal flour as that will make the bread too dense.
Instant/fast action yeast: I always prefer to use fast action yeast when making bread as it can just be added straight to the flour and doesn't need to be activated first. Don't use active dry yeast or fresh yeast as you would need to change both the quantities and method.
Salt: You simply cannot make good bread without salt. Don't omit it.
Non-dairy milk: Soy milk is always my favourite for baking as it has the highest protein content so most closely resembles dairy milk. Any variety of non-dairy milk will work however, but go for an unsweetened one if you can.
Vegan butter: I recommend using a block butter rather than a spreadable one for the best texture. I like Flora plant butter or Naturli vegan block.
Brown sugar: You really want to use dark brown soft or muscovado sugar, don't swap this for a different kind.
Treacle: Black treacle adds colour and flavour. Molasses is also fine.
Spices: I use mixed spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and vanilla. You can use pumpkin spice instead of the mixed spice if need be.
Dried fruit: I use a shop bought mixture of raisins, sultanas, currants and candied peel but feel free to vary these.
How To Make Spice Bun:
(Full measurements and instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of the page)
Mix the dry ingredients - bread flour, yeast, salt, sugar and spices, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.
Add the milk, water, melted butter, treacle and vanilla and mix on a low speed until it forms a rough, sticky dough.
Turn the speed up to medium and continue to mix for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic and pulls away from the sides of the bowl cleanly.
You should be able to stretch the dough very thinly before it tears (windowpane test).
Shape the dough into a ball, place in a large, lightly oiled bowl, cover and set aside to rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 2-3 hours.
Punch down the risen dough, scatter over the dried fruit and knead until evenly distributed.
Shape the dough into a neat ball, making sure that there is no fruit on the outside or it will burn.
Place on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper, loosley cover and set aside to rise until almost doubled in size, about 1 ½ - 3 hours.
Gently brush the dough with milk, then bake for 50 minutes.
Ads soon as it comes out of the oven, brush all over with a mix of brown sugar and water to create the sticky crust.
As with all of my baking recipes I really do recommend using the metric measurements with a digital scale rather than the cup conversions. Cups are a wildly inaccurate measuring system and you will get far better, more consistent results using a scale, not to mention that it is also easier and less messy than cups!
As it is enriched with milk, sugar, butter and treacle the dough is quite soft and sticky so if you have a stand mixer I advise using it, otherwise prepare for some very messy kneading!
Make sure that your yeast isn't out of date! Old yeast can lead to bread that doesn’t rise.
The rising time of the dough will vary depending on how warm it is; on hot days it will rise much faster than on cold ones.
As this bread is so heavily enriched with sugar, butter and spices, it can take a long time to rise (up to 6 hours!), especially if it is cold out; so make sure that you give yourself enough time. I tend to make it the day before I want to serve it.
The bun will keep for around 3 days in an airtight container at room temperature.
Can I Freeze It?:
Yes! This spice bun freezes really well, either whole or in slices. Make sure that it is completely cold first and wrap it well to prevent freezer burn. Allow to defrost at room temperature to serve.
In fact, as it takes a while to make, you might as well double the recipe and make two loaves, one to eat and one to freeze.
Can I Knead The Dough By Hand?:
This is a fairly soft, sticky dough so it is easier to use a stand mixer to do the kneading for you but yes, you absolutely can knead the dough by hand, just be prepared for a bit of a workout!
When kneading, you shouldn't flour the surface as you will end up incorporating too much flour and making the dough too dry. Instead, if the dough is sticking too much, you can lightly oil the worksurface and your hands to help, or just be prepared to get a bit sticky!
A bench scraper is incredibly handy when kneading dough by hand to unstick the dough from the surface.
How To Speed Up The Rising Time:
If your room temperature is cold and you want to speed up the rising time a bit then you can heat the oven up on it’s lowest temperature for a couple of minutes then switch it off and open the door for 30 seconds to let some of the heat out.
Hold your hand in there for a few seconds to make sure it isn’t too hot. It should feel warm but not hot, like a warm summer day kind of temperature. If it is too hot it will kill the yeast so be careful!
Place the covered dough in the oven and shut the door. If it is a really cold day then you may need to warm the oven up again after a while but I usually find that once is enough.
Alternatively, place a bowl or loaf tin in the bottom of your (cold, switched off) oven and place the covered dough on the middle shelf. Fill the bowl with boiling water and close the oven door. The steam will create a warm environment for the dough to rise.
How To Tell When The Bread Is Baked:
The best way to tell if bread is baked properly is to check the internal temperature with a probe thermometer. It should reach at least 90°C/194°F.
Overbaked bread will be dry and if it is under-baked then you will be eating raw dough, yuck! It is impossible to give a one-size-fits-all baking time as all ovens vary.
I really do recommend investing in a probe thermometer, it is an incredibly handy kitchen tool!
If you don't have a probe thermometer, then the bun should be well-risen and browned. A skewer inserted into the centre should go in and out smoothly with little resistance and come out with no dough on it and the loaf should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Can I Make It Gluten-Free?:
No, I’m afraid that you cannot use gluten free flour. Making gluten free bread is tricky and the entire recipe would need reworking. Gluten free baking is not my area of expertise so I cannot advise you.
It is best to use a recipe that is designed to be gluten free rather than trying to adapt a non gluten free recipe.
More Easter Bread Recipes:
- Vegan hot cross buns
- Vegan banana monkey bread
- Chocolate orange hot cross buns
- Vegan Belgian buns
- Almond bread twist
- Vegan lemon blueberry rolls
If you tried this recipe let me know how it went! Rate it, leave a comment or tag @domestic_gothess on Instagram and hashtag it #domesticgothess
All images and content on Domestic Gothess are copyright protected. If you want to share this recipe then please do so by using the share buttons provided. Do not screenshot or post the recipe or content in full.
Jamaican Spice Bun (Vegan)
- 550 g (4 ½ cups) white bread flour
- 14 g (2 sachets) instant/fast action yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 125 g (⅔ cup) dark brown soft sugar
- 2 teaspoons mixed spice
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon alllspice
- 125 g (½ cup) unsweetened non-dairy milk (I use soy) plus extra for brushing
- 125 g (½ cup) lukewarm water
- 100 g (3 ½ oz) vegan block butter melted
- 35 g (1 ½ Tablespoons) black treacle or molasses
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 80 g (½ cup) mixed dried fruit
- 2 Tablespoons dark brown soft sugar
- 2 Tablespoons boiling water
- Place the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook (or dough roller if you happen to have an Ankarsrum one), add the yeast to one side and the salt, sugar, mixed spice, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice to the other. Stir to combine.
- Add the milk, water, melted butter, treacle and vanilla and mix on a low speed until it forms a rough, sticky dough.
- Turn the speed up to medium and continue to mix for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic and pulls away from the sides of the bowl cleanly. You should be able to stretch the dough very thinly before it tears (windowpane test).
- Shape the dough into a ball, place in a large, lightly oiled bowl, cover and set aside to rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 2-3 hours.
- Punch down the risen dough, scatter over the dried fruit and knead until evenly distributed.
- Shape the dough into a neat ball, making sure that there is no fruit on the outside or it will burn.
- Place on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper, loosley cover and set aside to rise in a warm spot until almost doubled in size, about 1 ½ - 3 hours. It is ready to bake when the dough is puffy and springs back slowly, leaving a small indentation, if you gently poke it with a finger. If it springs back quickly and fills in completely then it needs to rise for longer.
- When the dough is almost ready, preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/375°F/gas mark 5.
- Gently brush the dough with milk then bake for 50 minutes. Cover with tin foil towards the end of baking if it starts to get too dark. The internal temperature should reach at least 90°C/194°F on a probe thermometer when it is ready.
- While the bread is baking, mix the sugar and boiling water together to make the glaze.
- When the bun is baked, remove it from the oven and brush all over with the sugar glaze. Keep going until you have used all of the glaze.
- Leave to cool on the tray for 5 minutes then slide it onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely before slicing.
- See post above for tips, details and step-by-step photos. If you have a question I may have already answered it above!
- As with all of my baking recipes I really do recommend using the metric measurements with a digital scale rather than the cup conversions. Cups are a wildly inaccurate measuring system and you will get far better, more consistent results using a scale, not to mention that it is also easier and less messy than cups!