When I lived in New Zealand I fell in love with Kiwi-style Hot Cross Buns. That is, HCBs with chocolate chips which, far from being an aberration as I thought at first, are Very Good for morning tea. And afternoon tea. And a post-pub, pre-bed snack for the Eight Degrees Brewing boys.
They’re great when warm from the oven but I think that they’re especially good toasted and spread with butter so that you get a full hit of spice alongside sweet, salty butter and melted chocolate.
I wrote at length about my love for them in the early days of this blog and included a recipe which used cup measurements. I never became fully resigned to the cups so here’s my latest variation with proper metric measurements.
I make these in the bread machine but they’re almost just as easy to do by hand and are a great Easter baking project for a morning when you won’t be leaving the house. As with all yeast recipes, it’s difficult to know how long they will take to rise. I generally land them in the hot press and forget about them for a couple of hours. Just make sure you do remember them at some stage!
Easter baking: Spiced Hot Cross Buns with Chocolate Chips
Traditionally you would make 12 buns – for the 12 apostles – from this dough but these are fairly rich so smaller is better. These are fantastic fresh out of the oven, brilliant toasted over the next couple of days and, should you have any left over, make the most amazing bread pudding.
For the dough:
Milk – 250mls, at room temperature
Egg – 1
Strong plain flour – 450g
Ground mixed spice – 1 teaspoon
Ground cinnamon – 1 teaspoon
Salt – 1 teaspoon
Caster sugar – 55g
Butter, diced – 55g
Dried yeast – 1½ teaspoons
Sultanas – 100g
Dark chocolate chips – 55g
For the crosses:
Plain flour – 4 tablespoons
Water – 4 tablespoons
For the glaze:
Granulated sugar – 55g
Water – 3 tablespoons
The bread machine: Whisk the milk and egg together. Pour into the bread machine, add the flour, spices, salt, sugar, butter and yeast. Select the dough setting, adding the sultanas and chocolate chips when the machine beeps.
By hand: Place the flour, spices, salt, sugar and yeast into a large bowl. Add the sultanas and chocolate chips, mix thoroughly and make a well in the centre. Melt the butter, add it to the milk and whisk together with the egg. Pour into the flour and mix to a dough. Knead on a clean surface for 4-6 minutes, until it feels elastic and smooth. Pop it back into the bowl, cover with a clean damp tea towel and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size. Depending on your house this can take from 1-2 hours.
Both methods: Lightly butter two Swiss roll tins. Turn out the dough and gently knock back. Divide into 16 balls and arrange 8 in each tin, allowing plenty of room for expansion. Cover again with clean damp tea towels and allow to rise for a second time until, once again, doubled in size.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 190°C. To make the crosses, mix the flour and water together to make a smooth, pipable dough. Scrape into a piping bag (or into a plastic bag, sniping the corner off) and pipe crosses on to each bun.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. While they are baking, make the glaze by melting the sugar and water together. Bring to a boil then brush over the buns as soon as they come out of the oven.