Chocolate and Spice Hot Cross Buns

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It wouldn’t be Easter weekend without hot cross buns and making your own is far more delicious, not to mention far more satisfying, than the shop bought variety. The long weekend is the ideal time to get bread baking; these buns are well worth the effort expended (not t00 much if you have a stand mixer!) and time patiently spent for the perfect prove. I’ve tried a variety of recipes over the years, from my classic go-to Mary Berry (pictured in this Instagram) to the more modern cinnamon swirl hot cross bun loaf. Today’s hot cross buns combine traditional Easter fruit, spice and citrus with the other seasonal prerequisite – chocolate – and are far too tempting to resist! First, make the dough. You will need:

225ml semi-skimmed milk
50g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
1 large egg
450g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tsp fast-action yeast
50g golden caster sugar
zest and juice 1 large orange
sunflower oil, for greasing.

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Heat the milk in a pan until steaming, remove from the heat and drop in the butter.

Chocolate and spice hot cross buns

After a couple of mins, beat in the egg and half the orange zest. The liquid should be just warm for the next step.

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Mix the strong flour, yeast, 1 tsp salt and the sugar in a large bowl, then tip in the liquid and stir to make a soft dough without dry patches.

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Chocolate and spice hot cross buns

Flour the work surface and your hands, then knead the dough for 5-10 mins by hand or with a stand mixer until smooth and elastic.

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Oil a large bowl and sit the dough inside it, before covering with oiled cling film.

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Rise in a warm place for about 1 hr or until doubled in size (or you could do this in the fridge overnight).

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Meanwhile, prepare the filling. You will need:

140g raisins
100g chocolate
1 tsp ground cinnamon
4 tbsp golden caster sugar
100g plain flour.

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Put the raisins and half the orange juice in a small pan or covered bowl, and either simmer for a few mins or microwave on High for 1 minute until hot. Allow to cool completely.

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Finely chop or grate the chocolate (or you could use a food processor) and mix with the cinnamon and sugar and the rest of the zest.

Chocolate and spice hot cross buns

Turn the risen dough onto a floured surface and press out into a large rectangle, a wee bit bigger than a piece of A4 paper. Scatter evenly with the chocolate mix and raisins, which should have absorbed all of the juice (drain them if not).

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Roll the dough around the filling, then knead well for a few mins until the fruit mix is evenly spread.

Chocolate and spice hot cross buns

Some raisins and chocolate will try to escape, but just keep kneading them back in!

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Grease then line a large baking sheet with baking parchment. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces.

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Shape into buns; I find the easiest method is pinching each ball of dough into a purse shape smoothing over the top and tucking ends under until you have an even ball.

Chocolate and spice hot cross buns

Put the buns, smooth-side up, onto the baking sheet (leaving room for rising) and cover loosely with oiled cling film. Prove in a warm place for 30-45 mins or until the dough has risen and doesn’t spring back quickly when prodded gently.

Chocolate and spice hot cross buns

Preheat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5 and make a flour paste with 6 -7 tbsp water and the plain flour until you have a smooth, thick mixture. Put this into a piping (or food) bag and snip off the end, about 5 mm in width.

Chocolate and spice hot cross buns

Pipe the crosses: I find it best to work quickly, in one smooth movement, for a neat finish.

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Bake for 20-25 mins until the buns are risen and dark golden brown.

Chocolate and spice hot cross buns

Mix the rest of the orange juice with the remaining sugar and let it dissolve.

Chocolate and spice hot cross buns

Brush the syrup over the buns while they are hot, then leave to cool.

Chocolate and spice hot cross buns

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Chocolate and spice hot cross buns

Freshly made hot cross buns are best eaten the same day, but they are just as delicious toasted after that.

Chocolate and spice hot cross buns

Chocolate and spice hot cross buns

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What’s your go-to hot cross bun recipe? What are you baking this Easter weekend?

Chocolate and spice hot cross buns

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Recipe via BBC GoodFood.

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