These orange chocolate hot cross buns are a delicious twist on an Easter classic. Orange zest and dark chocolate chunks are added to the dough to give amazing flavour. Warming spices of cinnamon, vanilla and cloves are infused into every delicious bite along with sherry and orange-soaked raisins. These are so delicious!
The chocolate is added as a twist, but if you prefer a more traditional hot cross bun flavour, simply leave it out. I prefer dark chocolate here and you can use chocolate chips if you prefer.
I have seen quite a few recipes using cocoa powder to make chocolate hot cross buns, but I prefer just using the chocolate chunks. White chocolate could also be nice here but it would sweeten them up quite a lot.
I love to rehydrate the dried fruit in sherry and orange juice overnight. They slowly absorb the liquid and plump up.
I have used a medium cream sherry in this hot cross bun recipe but if you are feeling super fancy, try Pedro Ximenz. It’s the absolute best-tasting sherry in the world.
If however, you would like to skip this step or would prefer not to add alcohol, simply soak the fruit in boiling water for 20 minutes and then drain and use as per the recipe.
It’s not necessary to pipe crosses onto buns, but it does make them quintessential and Easterish. These fruit buns can be eaten all year round.
Equipment to make hot cross buns
For best results, a stand mixer is recommended for kneading the dough. However, if you don’t have one, don’t worry, as kneading by hand is also possible.
Keep in mind that the dough can be quite sticky, so if kneading by hand, be prepared to spend some extra time on it, and resist the urge to add more flour. A well-kneaded, high-hydration dough is the secret to achieving irresistibly fluffy hot cross buns.
Frequently asked questions about making hot cross buns:
1. Can I use a different type of flour instead of bread flour?
You can use all-purpose flour instead of bread flour for this recipe.
2. Do I need to bloom the yeast before adding it to the dough?
If you are using instant dry yeast you do not need to activate it before adding it to the ingredients. If you are using Active yeast, you will need to pre-activate it in liquid. I would suggest heating the milk to lukewarm and adding it to that and waiting until. Its starts to froth before adding it to the bowl with the other ingredients.
3. Can I use different types of dried fruit?
I have used a combination of raisins, sultanas and currents which are transitional for hot cross buns. You can substitute these with cranberries or chopped-up dried apricots (or any other dried fruit of your choice).
Can I freeze the hot cross buns?
Hot cross buns like any baked bread or baked goods freeze perfectly. Simply wrap and freeze.
How long do the hot cross buns stay fresh?
Hot cross buns are best eaten freshly baked. On the same day, but will last up to 3 days in a sealed container. I recommend slicing and toasting them if you eat them after the first day.
Ingredients to make chocolate and orange hot cross buns
Dried fruit: I have used an equal mix of raisins, sultanas and currents to make up the 200gms. You can use them in whatever ratio you prefer.
Flour: A strong bread flour is best for this recipe but All-purpose will work too
Chocolate: I have used dark chocolate here as it pairs really well with the fruit in the buns and the orange flavour. Use milk chocolate if you prefer and you like things sweeter.
Instant yeast: I have used instant yeast but you can use active dry yeast or fresh yeast instead.
Glaze: The glaze is made up of orange juice, sugar and any leftover sherry liquid from the raisin. You can totally skip this step if you prefer and simply heat a couple of tablespoons of apricot jam with a splash of water and use this as a glaze instead. You can do the same with honey or maple syrup as an alternative glaze. Simply heat the money or maple in the microwave with a little butter and liberally brush this over the baked hot cross buns.
What is the difference between instant yeast and active dried yeast?
Instant yeast and active dry yeast are two common types of yeast used in baking. The main difference between the two is their moisture content and how they are used in recipes.
Active dry yeast is composed of larger granules with a moisture content of around 8%, and it must be dissolved in warm water before use to activate the bubbles.
Instant yeast, on the other hand, is a finer powder with a moisture content of around 3%, and it can be added directly to dry ingredients without the need for pre-activating in water (or liquid).
Kneading the dough
This high-hydration dough recipe requires at least 12 minutes of kneading in a stand mixer with a dough hook. Follow the instructions carefully and make sure you watch your mixer to ensure it doesn’t accidentally hop off the countertop and drop to the floor.
If the dough is not kneaded adequately, it will not prove & rise properly and will result in a tough and hard dough.
Proving the dough
The time it takes to prove these buns will depend on the temperature. If it’s cooler, It will take longer. Try to find a sunny spot for the dough to prove. Top tip: if your car is parked in the sun, it makes a great place to prove dough.
If necessary prove the dough for as long as it takes to double in size. Underproved dough will result in a tough hot cross bun.
Whipped butter with salted caramel
At the last minute, I decided to whip some butter with salted caramel to serve with these hot cross buns. This is totally delicious and something to consider if you wanted something different. Using an electric handheld whisk, simply beat butter with ready-made salted caramel in a ratio of about 2:1 (or however you would prefer).
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Recipe – makes 12 hot cross buns
Chocolate and orange hot cross buns
Dried fruit mix:
- 200 gms sultanas raisins and currents
- Juice of 1/2 orange
- ¼ cup dry or medium cream sherry
- 50 g candied orange peel
- finely chopped zest of 1 ½ oranges keep to juice later
- You will need a total of 2 oranges for this recipe. All the zest and juice but divided
- 400 g strong bread flour
- 60 g salted butter softened
- 60 g light brown sugar or white sugar
- 10 g instant dry yeast
- 200 ml milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 large free-range egg
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp mixed spice
- 100 gms dark chocolate chopped optional
- 50 g plain flour
- 50 ml water
- Tbsp sunflower oil
- ¼ tsp mixed spice
- Zest of the remaining ½ orange
- ¼ cup sugar
- Juice from 1 orange about 1/3 cupThe leftover liquid from the drained raisins
- Soak the fruit in advance. Place the raisins, sultanas and currents into a bowl with the orange juice and sherry. Cover and leave overnight to macerate and plump up. If you don’t want to do this step, simply pour boiling water over the fruit, soak for 20 minutes then drain and cool.
- The following day, drain any liquid from the fruit and set this aside. Add the dried citrus peel to the soaked fruit along with the zest of 1 ½ oranges.
- Begin by making the dough. Combine all of the dough ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix on low speed for 4-5 minutes until the dough starts to come together. Even though the dough will be quite sticky, there should be no flour left at the bottom of the bowl.
- Increase the speed to medium and continue kneading for 7 minutes to develop the protein in the dough. The dough will start to form a ball around the dough hook and pull away from the sides of the bowl.
- Add the dried fruit and chocolate to the dough in the bowl and mix for another minute to distribute them evenly.
- Transfer the dough to a large bowl, which has been lightly buttered or oiled. Cover with cling film and let it sit in a warm place to prove for 1 to 1½ hours, or until it doubles in size.
- Next, line a baking sheet with baking paper and set it aside. Tip the soft dough out onto a lightly floured surface to knock back the air. Cut and shape the dough into 12 equal pieces, rolling each one into a round bun. Use flour to prevent the dough from sticking. Alternatively, weigh the dough and divide it by 12 for evenly-sized buns.
- Arrange the buns on a large baking tray in a neat grid of 12. Cover the buns with a tea towel and leave them in a warm spot to prove again for 30 minutes, or until they double in size.
- While the buns are proving, preheat the oven to 180C/350F and make the cross mixture. Combine all the ingredients for the mixture in a bowl and whisk them together until they form a smooth paste. Adjust the consistency by adding water to make it thinner or flour to make it thicker.
- Transfer the mixture to a Ziplock bag or disposable piping bag and snip a small corner to make a piping bag. Once the buns have doubled in size, pipe the mixture onto the buns in long continuous lines down the middle, then cross over those lines in the opposite direction, intersecting them exactly in the middle of each bun.
- Bake the hot cross buns in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. If necessary loosely cover with a piece of tin foil to prevent over-browning.
- While the buns bake in the oven, prepare the glaze. In a small saucepan, combine all the glaze ingredients and bring the mixture to a boil. Cook over low heat for about 5-7 minutes while stirring occasionally, until the mixture has reduced by half and has a thick and syrupy consistency. Once removed from the heat, the glaze will thicken further as it cools. If it becomes too thick, simply reheat it briefly to soften it up *Keep a close eye as this can thicken up quickly.
- Once the buns are out of the oven, while they are still hot, use a pastry brush to generously brush the tops with the sticky orange glaze, making sure to coat the sides of the buns. It is not necessary for the glaze to be hot, as it will melt once it comes into contact with the buns.