This time last year* I published my original recipe for hot cross buns, which, in an unorthodox and controversial move, excluded mixed peel. I think my exact words were that peel is ‘a scourge upon the earth’, to get Biblical about it. I have heard many times from a vocal, zealous minority that that some people actually like mixed peel and would willingly choose to ingest it. So, since I am a
people-pleaser open-minded type of person, I have deigned to accommodate this faction of Easter bun-eaters with a half-arsed compromise. Simply adding mixed peel to the original recipe is of course not an option because that would be complete sacrilege and I will NOT turn the other cheek.
Fundamentalists of the hot crossie faith will be horribly aware that there are ‘philistines’ out there who love chocolate in their buns too, therefore in a bold move I have attempted to placate this sector of society as well, because I am absolutely tolerant of all bun-belief systems.
My hot cross bun recipes both include fresh fruit, to help make them moist. The original recipe uses grated apple, but this recipe replaces it with puréed orange. It also includes dark chocolate bits and cocoa powder. This recipe has a little more sugar, because just as mixed peel requires being pickled in liquefied sugar for fricking ages in order to make it remotely palatable, you need a bit more sweetness to offset the extra sour and bitter elements that the orange brings to the bun party. It also has more yeast, because the added acid content of the citrus has the potential to denature some of the yeast enzymes and you might find that the dough struggles to rise. Rise, get it? Rise! That’s got something to do with Easter! TIMELY REFERENCE.
*It wasn’t literally this time last year because oddly, Easter follows the lunar cycle, not actual dates. Go figure.
Orange & Dark Chocolate Hot Cross Buns
- 150g Sultanas
- 100g Currants
- 250ml Orange juice
- 15g Dry active yeast
- 1 tsp White sugar
- 100ml Milk
- 100g Unsalted butter, softened
- 100g Brown sugar
- 25g / 1 Tbsp Malt extract
- 1 Egg
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 Tbsp Cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp Mixed spice
- 1 tsp Cardamom, ground
- 1 tsp Nutmeg, ground or grated
- ½ tsp Allspice, ground
- 1 tbsp Cocoa powder
- 550g Strong flour + extra
- 50g Cornflour
- 1 Orange
- 100g Dark chocolate bits
For the crosses:
- 75g / ½ C Flour
- 80-90ml Water
For the glaze:
- 30g Brown sugar
- 30ml Water
- Put the sultanas and currants into a bowl and cover with orange juice. leave to soak.
- Warm the milk to no more than 37°C. Sprinkle in the yeast and the white sugar. Leave it to go foamy.
- Into the bowl of a stand mixer, put the butter, malt extract and brown sugar. Use the paddle attachment to cream them together (you can also do it manually or using a handheld beater).
- Add the egg and beat until the mixture has come together again.
- Add the spices and beat the mixture again for a period of about 5 minutes, to allow the fat of the butter and the egg to absorb the flavours of the spices.
- Zest the orange. I use a zester rather than a microplane so I get long ribbons.
- Cut the orange into quarters and put the pieces in a microwave-proof dish with a lid. Cover the pieces with water and microwave on 70-80% power for 5 minutes.
- Pour the fruit into a sieve and tap it and shake it to let the excess orange juice drain.
- Drain the water off the cooked orange and purée the pieces with an immersion blender or food processor.
- Add the flours, cocoa, milk/yeast mixture, salt, puréed orange, zest, chocolate and drained fruit to the stand mixer bowl (or a regular large bowl if kneading by hand).
- Set your stand mixer kneading, using a dough hook attachment. If you are hand-kneading your dough, mix the ingredients until they have just come together and turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. It is quite a wet, sticky dough but it should be firm enough to form a mass and hold together; if it does not, add a little more flour until it does.
- Once your dough is well-kneaded, place it into a greased bowl and cover it with cling film. Put it in a warm place to rise until it has doubled in size. It pays to visualise how much bigger it will look when roughly doubled in case you forget how big it initially was. You may find that it takes longer than usual to rise; it is a very enriched dough and this seems to hinder the yeast a bit.
- Once the dough has risen, punch it down and take it out of the bowl, turning it out onto a lightly floured surface. Giving it a light knead will help it to become less gooey and more manageable.
- Weigh your dough and divide the total weight by 12. Portion out the dough and form it into balls by rolling it against your work surface with a flat hand and bringing your fingers in around it as you roll.
- Lay out your dough balls on a greased Swiss roll pan or similar kind of rectangular tray. This recipe makes enough dough to fill out a 20cm x 30cm Swiss roll pan.
- Leave the formed tray of dough to rise again. This is the rising that will trap the air that will remain in your hot cross buns and make them light and fluffy, so be gentle and try not to mess them around.
- Once the dough has proved* and the tray is well filled-out with risen dough, you can prepare and pipe your crosses. I use a piping bag with a Wilton size 10 round nozzle tip. Just add enough water to make a thick yet pipe-able paste.
- Bake the buns at 190°C, until the crusts are dark, golden brown. To know more accurately if they are cooked, you can use a probe thermometer to check if the core is 92°C.
- While the buns are baking, make up your glaze and have it prepared and ready to use.
- When you are satisfied that your tray of buns is cooked, Take them out and put the tray on a cooling rack. Brush the buns with glaze. The glaze soaks into the buns a bit, so keep your remaining glaze in case you want to add more later. You can turn them out of the tray once they have cooled a little and the glaze is fairly set.
*The general rule for proofing is that if you can make a dimple in it with a finger and it pops back again, or if it is roughly double in size, it is ready for the oven.