Hot Cross Buns – Traditional and Chocolate!

6 Apr

One of the best things about working in the education system is getting time off work during the school holidays. And time off work means one thing: lots of time for baking. Winner!

With Easter coming up this weekend, I had the perfect excuse to fire up the oven. Who doesn’t love hot cross buns, really? Even if you don’t like the traditional fruit version (although I find this mind boggling, they’re too delicious to pass up!), I’ve got a decadent chocolate variety which seems to be a crowd pleaser for adults and children alike. I realise that hot cross buns aren’t a Good Friday staple everywhere, so if you’re from a country that has sadly deprived you of this Eastery goodness, then I highly recommend you give them a go. Your taste buds will thank you on bended knee!

Don’t be too nervous about the whole yeast/dough/rising/time consuming fiasco, either. These really are incredibly simple to make; time consuming, yes, but ridiculously easy and so worth your patience.

Let’s kick off with a bit of tradition…

HOT CROSS BUNS

4 1/3 cups strong bread flour (or plain flour, if you can’t find this)

2 x 7g sachets dried yeast

1/4 cup caster sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups mixed dried fruit of your choice (I went with sultanas, currants, raisins and citrus peel)

Zest and juice of 1 orange

40g butter

300ml milk

2 eggs, lightly beaten

Extra flour, if necessary

FLOUR PASTE

½ cup flour

5 tablespoons water

GLAZE

2 tablespoons apricot jam

MAKES 12 BUNS

Combine the flour, yeast, sugar, spices, and salt in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine the dried fruit with the zest and juice of the orange.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and add the milk, heating for about  a minute, until lukewarm. Add the warm milk mixture, fruit mixture and eggs to the flour. Using a low speed and paddle attachment on your stand mixer  (or a flat bladed knife if you’re working by hand) mix until the dough starts to come together.


Switch to a dough hook attachment and set on low speed for 5 – 7 minutes, or use clean hands to finish mixing to form a soft dough and then knead on a floured board for ten minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add extra flour, a tablespoon at a time, if the dough is too runny/too sticky.

Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.

Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until dough doubles in size.

Line a large, deep roasting dish with foil or baking paper and set aside. Punch the dough down using your fists to its original size, then knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth.

Cut the dough in half, then roll each half into a long, smooth log and cut the logs into six even sized pieces.

Shape each piece into a ball and roll round in your hands to smooth them. Place the balls into the lined dish, about 1cm apart.

Cover the dish with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 30 minutes, or until buns double in size. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius (that’s 375 degrees Fahrenheit or Gas Mark 5).

Now make the flour paste for the crosses. Mix the flour and water together in a small bowl until smooth, adding a bit of extra water if paste is too thick. Place the mixture into a piping bag and pipe the flour paste over tops of buns to form crosses.

Bake the buns for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they are cooked through and golden.

Finally, make the glaze. Place 2 tablespoons of apricot jam in a bowl and microwave on high for 1 minute, until melted. Brush the melted jam over the warm hot cross buns as soon as they’re out of the oven. Serve the buns warm or at room temperature – preferably with lashings of butter, either way – and enjoy!

And now, just in case you’re not getting enough chocolate already over Easter, let’s crack on with a new take on the old classic. This recipe is an adaptation of the one listed above, so I’ve skipped several photos in the step-by-steps (what’s the point of repeating them?). I had no idea that these aren’t widespread in England; back in Australia (at least, the part that I’m from) chocolate chip hot cross buns are almost as prevalent as the traditional variety. If you’ve never tried one, they make a delicious and gorgeously indulgent treat. I mean, really. It’s Easter. The more chocolate, the merrier!

TRIPLE CHOCOLATE HOT CROSS BUNS

4 cups strong bread flour (or plain flour, if you can’t find this)

1/3 cup cocoa powder

2 x 7g sachets dried yeast

1/4 cup caster sugar

1 teaspoons ground cinnamon

pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (I used white and dark varieties)

150g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

40g butter

300ml milk

2 eggs, lightly beaten

Extra flour, if necessary

FLOUR PASTE

½ cup flour

5 tablespoons water

GLAZE

1/3 cup water

3 tablespoons caster sugar

MAKES 12 BUNS

Combine the flour, yeast, sugar, cinnamon, salt and chocolate chips in a large bowl.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and add the milk, heating for about  a minute, until lukewarm. Add the warm milk mixture, fruit mixture and eggs to the flour. Using a low speed and paddle attachment on your stand mixer  (or a flat bladed knife if you’re working by hand) mix until the dough starts to come together.

Switch to a dough hook attachment and set on low speed for 5 – 7 minutes, or use clean hands to finish mixing to form a soft dough and then knead on a floured board for ten minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add extra flour, a tablespoon at a time, if the dough is too runny/too sticky. In the last minute or so of kneading, add the chopped chocolate pieces to the dough.

Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.

Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until dough doubles in size.

Line a large, deep roasting dish with foil or baking paper and set aside. Punch the dough down using your fists to its original size, then knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth.

Cut the dough in half, then roll each half into a long, smooth log and cut the logs into six even sized pieces.

Shape each piece into a ball and roll round in your hands to smooth them. Place the balls into the lined dish, about 1cm apart.

Cover the dish with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 30 minutes, or until buns double in size. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius (that’s 375 degrees Fahrenheit or Gas Mark 5).

Now make the flour paste for the crosses. Mix the flour and water together in a small bowl until smooth, adding a bit of extra water if paste is too thick. Place the mixture into a piping bag and pipe the flour paste over tops of buns to form crosses.

Bake the buns for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they are cooked through.

Finally, make the glaze. Place the water and sugar into a small saucepan and heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and allow to boil for five minutes. Brush the warm glaze over the hot cross buns once they’re out of the oven.

Serve the buns warm or at room temperature – preferably with lashings of butter, either way – and enjoy!

Happy Easter – however you celebrate, wherever you are and whatever you believe. x

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4 Responses to “Hot Cross Buns – Traditional and Chocolate!”

  1. A_Boleyn April 6, 2012 at 2:53 am #

    Gorgeous hot cross buns. My local bakery is selling these in crazy numbers. I’ll have to pick up one or two on Saturday. My big Easter bake is going to be sugar cookies in bunny/chick shapes. 🙂

    • Jess - cloudberrydreams April 6, 2012 at 8:49 am #

      Thank you! ❤

      You definitely need to pick some up for the weekend from the bakery, they're so good. Your cookie idea sounds gorgeous, though! 🙂 x

  2. stablestar April 10, 2012 at 9:09 am #

    Your stuff is brilliant !!! Again sorry i had to compliment that. Hope your Easter was as happy as the goodness in the pictures above.

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