Chocolate orange hot cross buns – a delicious chocolatey twist on the classic British Easter bread.
Hot cross buns are the most popular traditional Easter treat in the UK; I bake at least one batch every year and as much as I enjoy the classic version, sometimes I like to have a play with the recipe and make something a little different. This years take is these incredibly tasty chocolate orange hot cross buns and I think they might just be my favourite version yet!
The chocolate flavour comes from using cocoa powder in the bread dough, as well as adding plenty of chocolate chips so that every bite is chocolatey. Orange zest, candied peel and a sticky orange glaze give the buns a hint of orange flavour that works perfectly with the chocolate, making them incredibly moreish! Of course a hot cross bun is just a bun without the cross, fortunately they are really easy to do and are just made with a mixture of flour and water that you pipe on top of the risen buns before they go in the oven.
As with most homemade breads, these chocolate orange hot cross buns are best eaten on the day they are made but they are still good for a couple of days afterwards, especially if you serve them split and toasted with plenty of butter! They would make a fantastic Easter weekend breakfast or brunch (Easter is all about the chocolate after all so you might as well start the day as you mean to go on – with chocolate!). If you want to break up the work a bit so they don’t take as long to make in the morning then you can make the dough in the evening and leave it to rise in the fridge overnight then continue with the recipe as normal.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 4 cups white bread flour
- 5 Tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tsp mixed spice/pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 4 tsp instant yeast
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1 1/4 cups full fat milk
- finely grated zest of 2 large oranges
- 1 large egg
- 2/3 cup chocolate chips
- 1 1/4 cups mixed dried fruit (I used a mix of raisins, sultanas, currants and candied peel)
- 3 heaped Tbsp all purpose flour
- about 5 Tbsp cold water
- ¼ cup sugar
- juice 1 large orange
1.Place the bread flour in a large bowl and add the cocoa powder, mixed spice, salt and sugar to one side and the yeast to the other (yeast doesn’t like to come into direct contact with salt). Mix it all together.
2.Place the butter, milk and orange zest in a pan and heat until the butter has melted. Set aside until it has cooled to lukewarm (it shouldn’t be so hot that you can’t comfortably hold your finger in it). Pour the milk mix into the flour along with the egg and stir until it forms a rough dough.
3.Turn out onto an un-floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. The dough should be sticky at first but become smooth as you knead it. Alternatively you can use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook to knead it for about 6-7 minutes.
4.Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with clingfilm. Set aside to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1-2 hours.
5.Flatten the risen dough out into a rectangle and scatter over the dried fruit and chocolate chips; knead until they are well distributed. Divide the dough into 15 equal pieces and shape each one into a ball. Place them slightly spaced apart on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Loosely cover with oiled clingfilm and set aside to rise until puffy, about 1 hour.
6.Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F. To make the crosses, place the flour in a bowl and slowly whisk in enough water to form a thick, pipe-able consistency; your looking for something with a similar consistency to wallpaper paste. Place the paste in a disposable piping bag and snip off the very tip (or put it in a piping bag fitted with a small round nozzle).
7.Pipe a cross on the top of each risen bun then bake them for about 20 minutes. They should be well risen and browned; if you have a probe thermometer then the internal temperature should reach at least 201°F.
8.While the buns are baking prepare the glaze. Place the orange juice and sugar in a small pan; heat while stirring until the sugar has dissolved then bring up to a simmer and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes until syrupy.
9.Once the buns are baked, remove them from the oven and brush the tops liberally with the glaze. Allow to cool then serve them split, toasted and buttered.