You can keep your chocolate eggs. If you want a really traditional treat this Easter, there’s only one thing for it: Hot Cross Buns. Cheap to make – although not quite one or two-a-penny, despite what the rhyme says – this spicy, chocolatey version is an absolute winner.
Makes 12 Buns -
Zest and juice of 1 large Orange
Sunflower Oil, for greasing
For the dough and crosses
225ml Semi-Skimmed Milk
50g Unsalted Butter,
plus extra for greasing 1 large Egg
450g Strong White Bread Flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tsp Fast-Action Yeast
50g Golden Caster Sugar For the flavouring and glaze
100g Chocolate (70% cocoa solids), finely chopped
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
4 tbsp Golden Caster Sugar
100g Plain Flour
Make the dough first. Heat the milk in a pan until steaming. Remove from the heat, and drop in the butter. After a couple of mins, beat in the egg and half the orange zest. The liquid should be just warm for step 2.
Mix the strong flour, yeast, 1 tsp salt and the sugar in a large bowl, then tip in the liquid and stir to make a soft dough without dry patches. Flour the work surface and your hands, then knead the dough for 5-10 mins until smooth and elastic. Oil a large bowl, sit the dough inside it, then cover with oiled cling film. Rise in a warm place for about 1 hr or until doubled in size.
Put the raisins and half the orange juice in a small pan and simmer for a few mins until hot. Cool completely.
Mix the finely chopped chocolate with the cinnamon and 2 tbsp golden caster sugar. Mix in the rest of the orange zest.
Turn the risen dough onto a floured surface and press it out to a large rectangle, a little bigger than A4 paper. Scatter it evenly with the chocolate mix and the raisins, which should have absorbed all of the juice (drain them if not). Roll the dough up around the filling, then knead it well for a few mins until the chocolate and fruit are evenly spread. Some raisins and chocolate will try to escape, but keep kneading them back in.
Grease then line a large baking sheet with baking parchment. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Shape into buns by pinching each ball of dough into a purse shape, concentrating on making the underneath of the ball (which will be the top) as smooth as you can. Put the buns, smooth-side up, onto the baking sheet, leaving room for rising. Cover loosely with oiled cling film and prove in a warm place for 30-45 mins or until the dough has risen and doesn't spring back quickly when prodded gently.
Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. To make the paste for the crosses, gradually stir 6-7 tbsp water into the plain flour to make a smooth, thick paste, then put in a food bag and snip off the end to about 5mm. Pipe the crosses, then bake for 20-25 mins until the buns are risen and dark golden brown.
Mix the rest of the orange juice with the remaining sugar and let it dissolve. Brush the syrup over the buns while they are hot, then leave to cool. Eat on the day of baking, or toast the next day.