It’s the end of the Lenten season, which always means hot cross buns.
When I was little, I liked the delicately spiced buns, but hated the sickly sweet hit of the raisins and currants. It would take me ages to eat one because I would have to pull it apart, picking out the fruit and eating the bread. Occasionally I would get impatient and try to eat too much at once, accidentally biting into a fat, disturbingly squishy saccharine pod or a slightly bitter piece of peel. I would have given up on them altogether, but there’s something very festive and special about the scent of a warm hot cross bun wafting through the house.
It was a glorious day when Baker’s Delight introduced chocolate chip hot cross buns. To me, it’s the ideal substitute since the cinnamon and chocolate go together perfectly and there’s no unexpected fruit bombs going off where they shouldn’t be.
I’m completely new to making bread, which always makes for a few nerves. I tried my best to tinker with recipes, playing with wholemeal ratios, types of sugar and quantities of butter in an effort to make them healthier, but eventually I found that it’s best not to mess too much with hot cross buns – you just won’t get the same experience. Maybe someday I’ll be comfortable enough with baking to perfect a recipe for wholemeal low-sugar butter-free hot cross buns, but for now I’m going to sit back and enjoy a sweet treat.
Chocolate chip hot cross buns (makes 12)
For the buns:
1 tablespoon dried yeast
2 tablespoons of honey
100ml warm water
100ml warm milk
450g plain flour
2 teaspoons mixed spice
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
50g caster sugar
50g melted butter
200g dark chocolate chips
For the crosses:
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
For the glaze:
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablepoons water
Dissolve the honey in 100ml hot water and 50ml milk. Make sure the liquid is comfortably hot and add the yeast, covering it with a clean tea towel. Leave for 5 minutes until it forms a good froth on the surface.
Meanwhile, sift the flour, sugar, salt, spices and chocolate chips together in a large bowl and make a well in the centre.
When the yeast mix is ready, pour it into the well with the egg, melted butter and 50ml of warm milk. Mix gradually until it forms a rough dough, then turn it out onto a clean surface.
Knead for about 7 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic.
Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a cloth, leaving it in a warm spot in the kitchen. Leave until it doubles in size (takes about an hour).
Take the dough and knead it back to its original size, then cut it into 12 balls. Score the tops in the shape of a cross and place into a deep baking tray lined with baking parchment. Cover and leave for 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the crosses by mixing the flour with the water and vanilla. Roll into strips and attach to the top of the balls by wetting them slightly.
Bake at 190 degrees for 20 minutes.
Just before you pull them out of the oven, you can make the glaze by gently heating the sugar and water until it forms a syrup. Brush the buns with the glaze while they’re still warm.