BakeRecipes

Dried Cherry & Chocolate Hot Cross Buns

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Prep 25min (+1hr 30min resting time)Bake 25minMakes about 12

An updated version of the traditional favourite, these hot cross buns are studded with chunks of dark chocolate and tart, dried cherries. They're simply too hard to resist – especially when served warm with lashings of butter!

Ingredients

  • 750g (5 cups) bread or pizza flour (see Baker's Tips)
  • 55g (¼ cup) caster sugar
  • 2 sachets (7g each) dried yeast
  • 1½ teaspoons mixed spice
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 150g (1 cup) dried cherries (see Baker's Tips)
  • 75g (½ cup) currants
  • 435ml (1¾ cups) milk
  • 60g butter, cubed, plus extra, to grease and serve
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon natural vanilla essence or extract
  • 100g good-quality dark chocolate, chopped

Flour paste

  • 75g (½ cup) plain flour
  • 75ml water

Glaze

  • 55g (¼ cup) caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water

Method

  1. Put the bread flour, sugar, yeast, mixed spice, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl and mix to combine. Stir through the dried cherries and currants. 

  2. Heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until the butter has just melted and the milk is lukewarm. Whisk one of the eggs with the vanilla and add to the milk mixture. Whisk to combine. Add to the dry ingredients and use a wooden spoon and then your hands to mix to a soft dough.

  3. Turn out onto a lightly floured bench top. Knead for 8-10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Lightly grease a clean large bowl with a little butter, add the dough and turn to coat the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 1 hour or until doubled in size. 

  4. Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Punch the centre of the dough down with your fist. Turn onto a lightly floured bench top. Knead for 2-3 minutes or until smooth. Knead in the chocolate. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball and place on the tray, allowing room for spreading. Cover with a damp tea towel (dish towel) and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 30 minutes or until almost doubled in size.

  5. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Meanwhile, make the Flour paste. Combine the flour and water in a bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Spoon into a small plastic bag.

  6. Whisk the remaining egg and brush the tops of the buns with it. Snip a small hole in the corner of the plastic bag containing the Flour paste and pipe crosses on the buns.

  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until the buns are cooked and sound hollow when tapped on the base.

  8. Meanwhile, make the Glaze. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and simmer for 1 minute. Transfer the hot cross buns to a wire rack and brush the tops with the glaze. Serve warm, spread with butter.

Baker's Tips

  • Bread and pizza flour (also known as 'strong' flour) has a higher gluten content than regular plain flour. This type of flour is more suited to use in yeast-based bread recipes like these buns and will give you a better final texture (the resulting bread will be more 'bread-like' with a slightly chewy texture rather than a fine, cake-like texture).
  • Dried cherries are available at selected supermarkets, delicatessens, grocery shops and specialty food stores. You can replace them with good-quality dried cranberries.
  • These hot cross buns are best eaten the day they are made. To freeze, wrap in plastic wrap and then seal in an airtight container or freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw them at room temperature or split while still frozen and toast.

This recipe is from Anneka's SBS Food online column, Bakeproof: Easter Rituals.

CLICK HERE for more Bakeproof recipes.

Photography by Alan Benson.