Make your friends and family very happy this Easter with my easy hot cross bun recipe with dark chocolate chips. The recipe takes time and patience, but your effort and kneading will be rewarded with these light and fluffy buns. They are best served straight out of the oven, or toasted with a little butter spread on them. You will need a pastry brush, piping bag, 1cm piping nozzle and flat baking tray for this recipe.
- Place the milk and butter into a saucepan and heat gently until the butter melts. Once melted, take off the heat and allow to cool slightly.
- Activate the dried yeast by mixing it with 2 tablespoons of luke-warm water and a pinch of the caster sugar from the recipe. Allow to sit for at least 5 minutes and then stir it until it becomes a paste.
- Sieve the flour, spices and salt into a bowl and add the sugar. Make a well in the centre.
- Once the milk and butter mixture is body temperature (around 38 degrees C), add it to the bowl along with the yeast paste.
- Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients as quickly as possible, using a cutlery knife until all the ingredients are incorporated and a dough is formed.
- Flour the surface of your kitchen bench with some strong plain flour and knead the dough for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
- Oil a bowl lightly and place the dough in the bowl. Cover with a damp tea towel and allow to rise for 1.5 – 2 hours, in a warm place if possible. Check after 1.5 hours and test if it is ready. When pressing a finger in, the dough should feel soft and pillowy and be doubled in size.
- Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200 degrees C (180 degrees C fan) and prepare the top shelf for baking. Grease the flat baking tray lightly with oil.
- Chop the dark chocolate into small chunks.
- After the dough has doubled in size, flour the bench surface again and knead the dough for 2 minutes. Add the dark chocolate chunks and work them into the dough. You will need to fold and knead the dough for a couple of minutes to ensure they are distributed evenly.
- Weigh the dough, including the chocolate chips. Divide this number by 8, and portion the dough into 8 equal pieces. Shape the pieces into circular shaped buns, and place onto a tray 2cm apart so that they are two buns across, and four buns long. Cover again with the damp tea towel to prove until they have doubled in size again, around 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- While the dough is proving, prepare the glaze and the cross piping. Sieve the plain flour and baking powder, and mix together with the olive oil. Add cold water gradually, until a thick pipeable consistency is achieved. Place into a piping bag with a 1cm wide nozzle.
- To make the glaze, stir the caster sugar with the milk until dissolved.
- Once the dough has proved, dip your pastry brush into the milk and brush the glaze onto the buns.
- Pipe the cross onto each bun, starting from the middle of one side and finishing at the middle of the other. Repeat until you have made a cross shape onto each bun
- Bake in the oven on the top shelf for 15-20 minutes until the buns are golden, light to the touch and sound hollow from the bottom.
- Allow the buns to cool on a wire rack and then serve, spread with a little butter.