Happy Easter everyone!
This long weekend has been great as I have spent most of it cooking which has been heavenly. I haven’t had any hot cross buns this Easter so they were the first thing that came to mind to bake on Good Friday.
I love hot cross buns. They remind me of lovely times at home. When my sister and I were young, we would come home from school and have toasted hot cross buns lathered in butter which would melt and seep into the lovely spiced hot cross buns. It was always a lovely treat after a day at school.
Fifteen years on, they still invoke lovely memories. Just to make them a bit more seasonal and since Easter is all about eating chocolate anyway, it seemed very appropriate to replace raisins and currants with something which looks almost identical and is even more delicious – chocolate chips. The original recipe can be found here. I decided to add orange zest and candied peel to give them extra flavour (and to make them feel a little bit healthier with some fruit!). There is still enough cinnamon and mixed spice in them though that they have the characteristic flavour of a hot cross bun.
These really are so tasty. When you bite into a warm bun, there are lovely pockets of melted chocolate and then some deliciously chewy speckles of candied peel. In my world, they have to be eaten with lots of butter. The salty butter and the sweet and spicy bun are wonderful together. I just love it!
CHOCOLATE ORANGE HOT CROSS BUNS
Ingredients (makes 8 large buns):
400g strong white bread flour
50g golden caster sugar, plus 1 teaspoon
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
7g sachet fast action yeast
1 teaspoon salt
50g unsalted butter
1 medium free-range egg, lightly beaten
100g chocolate chips
70g candied peel
1 orange, zest only
50g plain flour
2 tablespoon apricot jam (optional)
- Mix the bread flour, sugar and spices in a large bowl and mix well. Place the yeast at one end of the bowl and salt at the other. Mix them lightly but keep them both at separate ends of the bowl as the salt can kill the yeast if they mix and your buns won’t rise. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat then add the milk and gently heat until lukewarm. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture. Pour the milk, butter and egg into the well and mix with a wooden spoon. Then get your hands in and bring the dough together. If the dough is too dry, add a little warm water or if it is too wet, add some extra flour.
- Flour a work surface and knead the dough for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Lightly grease a clean bowl with a little butter. Place the dough in the bowl and set aside somewhere warm loosely covered with a clean, damp tea towel to prove until doubled in size. This will take about an hour depending on how warm your room is.
- Lightly flour a work surface and flatten out the dough. Sprinkle the chocolate chips, candied peel and orange zest on top. Knead the dough again until the extra fillings are well mixed in and distributed throughout the dough. Some of the chunks may pop it but just push them back in.
- Divide the dough into 8 equal parts. Shape each piece of dough into smooth round buns. Place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Make sure you leave some space between each bun to allow them to rise again. Cover with a damp towel again and leave to prove again for around 20 minutes until they have almost doubled in size again.
- Heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Now it is time to make the crosses. Mix the plain flour, teaspoon of sugar and 4 – 5 tablespoons of water. You want it to be a thick paste so just add a little water at a time. Pop the mixture into a piping bag and pipe crosses on the risen buns. Place the buns in the oven for 20 minutes until golden and delicious.
- Once the buns have cooled slightly, brush on a little apricot jelly to give them a lovely glaze. If you want to toast the buns later, it is best not to glaze them as the jam will burn when they go in the toaster. I still glaze them but pop them in the oven to warm them up or toast the insides under the grill so the glaze won’t burn.
- Serve with lashings of butter.
Have a wonderful chocolate-filled Easter!