Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns

My favourite thing about Easter is hot cross buns. As soon as it starts getting close I get ridiculously excited at having an excuse to make some. Every year I promise myself I'll make more when it's not Easter, but I never do. Another year rolls by and I'll realise I haven't had them for a year.

This recipe is the favourite in my household. Most aren't keen on hot cross buns with dried fruit in them, but the choc chip alternative disappears almost as quickly as I can make the.

The most important part of making any yeast bread begins before you've done anything else: you have to make sure your yeast is alive. Most yeast sachets are pretty good at keeping yeast living, even beyond the use by date. But it's worth checking anyway.

You need to give it two things: food and warmth. In this recipe, we do that with warm milk and a little sugar. If after 10 minutes your yeast is not foamy, it's dead, Jim. Throw it out and start again. It's not worth wasting all that time and ingredients assuming it will be fine and finding out one dense batch of buns later it wasn't. Be sure you only warm your milk: if it's too hot it will shock the yeast and also kill it.

Once that's successful, you make a well in your flour mixture and pour the foamy goodness inside.

Stir the mixture until you can't stir no more.

Then it's a good time to turn it onto the bench and knead until combined.

Now we play the waiting game. Your dough needs to be left to rest in a lightly greased bowl so it's time to entertain yourself for an hour!

I went outside and rollerbladed with my husky. Before long my alarm was calling me inside and what awaited me was a much larger batch of dough. This is your second sign that the yeast lives and is doing its job. Which should be no surprise to you if you've proofed your yeast.

Punch that dough down and knead it until it's smooth.

Now's time to add the choc chips. I chose white chocolate for some contrast. The easiest way to add them in is to flatten your dough down and place them in the centre.

Fold your dough into a little parcel to encase the chocolate chips, then knead until you feel they've become well dispersed throughout the dough.

We're almost there! Now you take your chipped-up dough and roll it into balls. Place them in your prepared tray and leave them to sit for half an hour. When you return they'll have risen once more.

Now it's time to pipe the crosses. You really don’t need to do anything fancy. I just scoop the flour mixture into a snap-lock back and snip the corner.

How large you make the hole will determine how large the crosses are. I prefer dainty little crosses.

Another half hour later and you will finally be greeted by a bevy of buns.

Or you can add a little glaze if you prefer. A lot of recipes use a gelatine glaze, but I prefer a simple sugar syrup. It's not as clear, but tastes better.

We're all done. No time to waste letting them cool.

Let's tuck right in!

Choc-chip Hot Cross Buns

Ingredients

7g sachet (2 tsp) dry yeast
1 1/2 cups milk, warmed
1/4 cup caster sugar
4 cups plain flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
60g butter, chilled and chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup choc chips

For crosses:
3 tbsp plain flour
3 tbsp tepid water

For glaze:
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

Method

  1. Proof the yeast by adding it and 1tbsp of the caster sugar to a bowl with the warmed milk. Whisk to dissolve yeast; cover with a tea towel and let stand for 10 minutes, or until foamy.
  2. Sift flour and cocoa into a large bowl; rub in butter with your fingertips until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs (alternatively, quicken the process by using a food processor). Make a well in the centre; add yeast mixture, egg and remaining sugar and stir to combine.
  3. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and combined. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to stand for an hour. Meanwhile, prepare a baking dish or cake tin by lining with greaseproof paper (a 23cm square tin will do, but any variation in shape/dimensions around that will suffice).
  4. Punch down dough; knead for 5 minutes, or until smooth. Knead in choc-chips.
  5. Tear off handfuls of dough and roll them into balls. Place in prepared pan. Cover with a tea towel and let stand for half an hour, or until slightly risen.
  6. Preheat oven to 200°C (180°C fan-forced).
  7. To make paste for cross, combine flour and water in a small bowl. Transfer to a piping bag and pipe crosses onto the buns.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 180°C (160°C fan-forced) and bake for a further 20 minutes. Place buns on wire rack.
  9. To make glaze, place water and sugar in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, then remove from heat. Use a pastry brush to brush over buns while they are still warm.

You'll find the printable version of this recipe here.

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