With Easter weekend just around the corner, we've got something extra special for you - a simple and delicious recipe for chocolate-studded hot cross buns. Sweet, fluffy and gently spiced, these hot cross buns are spiked with vanilla and taste excellent served warm with a generous smear of butter and large pot of comforting tea.
There's so many reasons why you'll love these hot cross buns. Here's a few worth mentioning:
- The recipe takes patience and time; however, the method couldn't be more straightforward. We recommend preparing the dough bright and early. That way, you'll have freshly baked hot cross buns ready by mid-late morning.
- These hot cross buns taste infinitely better than the stock standard ones from the grocery store. Plus, there's lots of ways you can pep them up - see our ideas below!
- Traditional hot cross buns are made using raisins, but we've made them more indulgent with milk chocolate chips, and a little cocoa added to the dough. They're far more popular with the little ones!
- The maple or honey glaze painted on top at the end makes them even more luscious and delectable. This finishing touch makes them sticky, sweet, and fantastic to eat!
Tips for making the best hot cross buns:
- Always check your yeast! Most people don't often bake with yeast, which means it usually expires without us noticing. Don't feel tempted to use yeast that's past its use-by date. You'll waste precious time and ingredients.
- Regular or high-grade flour works best in this recipe as it works better with the yeast.
- For beautifully defined crosses, make sure your piping mixture isn't too runny. Add more flour if needed to get it to the right consistency.
- Sticky dough is a good thing as it makes softer and fluffier buns. Avoid being tempted to keep adding flour for a drier dough. The more you knead, the smoother and more elastic it will become.
- Make sure you choose a nice warm spot to let your dough rise. The hot water cupboard or above the oven, while it's heating up, are good options.
Here's what you'll need:
For the buns:
300 ml milk of your choice
60g unsalted butter
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 ¼ tsp instant yeast
½ cup white sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup milk chocolate chips
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2-3 tbsp milk of your choice
3-4 tbsp honey or maple syrup
Some extra add-ins:
Zest of one orange
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary or thyme
White chocolate chips instead of milk chocolate
3-4 tbsp finely chopped candied peel
Combine the milk and butter in a small saucepan over low heat, and stir until melted. Put aside and allow to cool, until lukewarm.
Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a large bowl, then add the yeast, sugar, cinnamon and sea salt. Whisk until well combined. Make a well in the middle, add the vanilla and egg, then gradually pour in the milk mixture, stirring from the outside to form a rough dough.
Transfer to a floured bench and knead for about 5 minutes or until smooth and springy. Transfer to a flour-dusted bowl, cover with a clean damp tea towel and prove in a warm place for 1 hour 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.
Place the dough on a clean surface, then knock out the air. Flatten the dough, sprinkle over the chocolate chips, then knead gently for 1-2 minutes or until nicely incorporated. If adding anything extra such as orange zest or fresh herbs, you can do this when you sprinkle over the chocolate chips.
Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces, shape into balls, and place on the tray, allowing a small gap between each bun. Cover once again with a damp tea towel and allow to prove for about 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC, and line a tray with baking paper.
Mix the cocoa and flour and add the milk, a little at a time, to create a thick batter consistency. Transfer to a piping bag, and pipe crosses on the top of each bun.
Pop the buns in the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until nicely golden. Transfer to a cooling rack. Warm the honey if it is solid, then gently brush over the buns to give them a sweet glistening glaze.
Makes 12 hot cross buns.