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John Whaite's Simnel swirl Easter buns

John Whaite / 22 March 2016

A delicious cross between Simnel cake and hot cross buns from Great British Bake Off winner John Whaite.

Simnel swirl buns
John Whaite's Simnel swirl buns

Rising time

1 hour

Cooking time

15 minutes




For the dough

  • 500g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 5g salt
  • 10g caster sugar
  • 7g fast-action yeast
  • 150ml tepid water
  • 120ml milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 40g Stork with Butter
  • Flavourless oil, for greasing

For the filling

  • 75g Stork with Butter
  • 75g dark brown muscovado sugar
  • 1tsp mixed spiced
  • 75g marzipan, cut into small chunks
  • 100g dried mixed fruit
  • 50g almonds, roughly chopped

For the glaze

  • 4tbsp apricot jam
  • 1tbsp water
  • Zest of 1 lemon, to finish


Easter would not be Easter without either Simnel cake or hot cross buns. This recipe sort of marries the two: the bun itself is clearly inspired by the hot cross favourites, but as is the use of fruit and spice. The marzipan is the classic Simnel cake ingredient.

To make the dough, place the flour in a bowl and stir in the salt and sugar. Add the yeast and stir it through the flour. Add the water, milk and egg and mix well with a wooden spoon or your hands until you have scraggy dough. Squeeze in the Stork with Butter then knead until the mixture is smooth and elastic; about 10 minutes. 

This is much quicker to make in a food mixer fitted with dough hook. Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with cling film and allow to rise until doubled in size; usually an hour but could be more if your kitchen is cool.

While the dough rises make the filling. Cream together the Stork with butter, sugar and spice until paste-like.

Once the dough has risen, flour the worktop and roll the dough out into a square of about 45cm/18-inch. Spread the filling all over the dough then scatter the marzipan, fruit and nuts onto the filling. Roll up into a tight spiral, trim off the messy ends, and then cut the roll into 12 equal-ish slices*. Place these, spiral sides up, into a medium sized roasting dish or muffin tin and allow to rise for another 30 minutes.

For the glaze, simply boil together the apricot jam and water for one minute.

Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas mark 8. Bake the buns for 15 minutes or until risen and golden. As soon as the buns come out of the oven, paint over the apricot jam and allow to cool in the tin.

Cooking tip

If you have unflavoured dental floss, you can slice the dough into portions without damaging the shape of the buns. Simply slide a length of dental floss underneath the spiralled dough, cross it over the top where you want to cut, and pull it tight to slice. Repeat for all 12 portions of dough.

Visit our baking recipes section for cakes, biscuits and more.

Our thanks to Stork for providing this recipe. John Whaite has teamed up with Stork for their Sunday Bake service, which has recipes, tips and inspiration for bakers.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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