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!
- 750 g (5 cups) bread or pizza flour (see Baker's Tips)
- 55 g (¼ cup) caster sugar
- 2 sachets (7 g each) dried yeast
- 1½ tsp mixed spice
- 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp salt
- 150 g (1 cup) dried cherries (see Baker's Tips)
- 70 g (½ cup) currants
- 440 ml (1¾ cups) milk
- 60 g butter, cubed
- 2 eggs, lightly whisked
- 1 tsp natural vanilla essence or extract
- 100 g good-quality dark chocolate, chopped
- extra butter, to grease and serve
- 75 g (½ cup) plain flour
- 60 ml (¼ cup) water
- 55 g (¼ cup) caster sugar
- 2 tbsp water
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time 1½ hours
Put the flour, caster sugar, yeast, mixed spice, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl and mix to combine. Stir through the dried cherries and currants. Combine the butter and milk in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until the butter just melts and the milk is luke warm. Whisk in one egg and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients and use a wooden spoon and then your hands to mix to a soft dough.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 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 in the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Line a large oven tray with non-stick baking paper. Punch the centre of the dough down with your fist and turn onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 2-3 minutes or until smooth. Knead in the chocolate until evenly distributed. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball and place into the tin. Cover with a slightly damp tea towel and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 180°C. Meanwhile, make the flour paste by combining the flour and water in a bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Spoon into a small plastic bag.
When ready, lightly brush the tops of the buns with the remaining whisked egg. Snip a small hole in the corner of the flour past bag and pipe crosses on the tops of the buns.
Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until cooked through and sounding hollow on the base when tapped.
Meanwhile, to make the glaze, combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Simmer for 1 minute. Transfer the hot cross buns to a wire rack and brush the tops with the glaze. Serve warm or at room temperature spread with butter.
• 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, fruit and vegetable 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.
Anneka's mission is to connect home cooks with the magic of baking, and through this, with those they love. Read our interview with her or for hands-on baking classes and baking tips, visit her at BakeClub. Don't miss what's coming out of her oven via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Trish Heagerty. Food preparation by Wendy Quisimbung.
This recipe is from our online column, Bakeproof: Easter rituals.