Recipe: Craving evening snacks? Try these spiced chocolate hot cross buns

Prepared without kneading the dough, hot cross buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday in the United Kingdom and are usually made with fruit with a cross marked on the top. These sweet rolls are studded with dry fruits like raisins and currants and lightly spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg.

Though it is far from Easter or Good Friday in any corner of the world, the nostalgia of the nursery rhyme with the same name as this traditional dish is enough to set us craving for hot cross buns as an evening snack. Can one really be cross when there are spiced chocolate hot cross buns on the table?

Us neither hence, this evening we are not spending “one a penny, two a penny” but whipping up some slightly sweet, light, fluffy and spiced chocolate hot cross buns with the recipe given below. It makes 1 loaf or 11 buns and serves 8-10 people.

Ingredients for buns:

425g (15oz) strong white flour + extra for dusting

30g (1oz) cocoa powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon mixed spice

50g (2oz) butter + extra to grease the casserole

6 tablespoons caster sugar

Fine zest of 1 orange

200ml (1/3pint) milk

1 tablespoon dried active yeast

1 large egg - beaten

60g (2½oz) milk chocolate chips

50g (2oz) chopped candied citrus peel

60g (2¼oz) sultanas

Ingredients for crosses:

25g (1oz) strong white plain flour

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

2 tablespoons cold water

Ingredients for glaze:

Juice of 1 orange (around 75ml/ 2½floz)

2 tablespoons honey

Cling film

Piping bag and fine plain nozzle


Sift the flour, cocoa, salt, and spice into a large warmed bowl. Rub in the butter and stir in 5 tablespoons of the caster sugar and the orange zest. Warm the milk, whisk in the remaining tablespoon of sugar and the dried yeast, and leave for 5 minutes until frothy.

Make a well in centre of the dry ingredients, pour in the frothy yeast mixture and the beaten egg. Work the mixture together using a large spatula until it leaves the sides of the bowl and forms a dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 5 - 6 minutes until it has become smooth and elastic.

Return the dough to the bowl, cover with some oiled cling film and set to rise in a warm place until doubled in size. This will take around 1 – 1½ hours. Turn the risen dough out onto a floured work surface and knead 2 - 3 times to knock out the air. Flatten the dough out into a large rectangle and sprinkle over the chocolate chips, candied citrus peel and the sultanas.

Knead 2-3 times more to incorporate the chocolate and fruit into the dough. Divide the dough into 11 equal pieces and roll into balls. To ensure all the buns are the same size, weigh the finished dough, divide the figure by 11 then cut and weigh each piece of dough before rolling into a ball.

The dough will be a little over 1kg (2lb 4oz) making the dough balls approximately 95g (3¼oz) each. Grease the casserole with some of the extra butter and lightly dust with flour. Evenly space the dough balls in the casserole, 8 around the outside and 3 in the centre, cover and leave to rise for 1 - 1 ½ hours or until doubled in size.

Warming the casserole before putting in the buns to rise and then placing on the lid will provide a perfect environment for the rising process.10-15 minutes towards the end of the rising process preheat the oven to 200°C/ 400°F/ Gas Mark 6. For fan assisted electric ovens you may need to reduce the temperature by 10-20°C.

For the crosses mix the flour, oil and enough of the water together to make a smooth paste. Place the mixture into a plastic piping bag or small plastic bag, snip 4 - 5mm off the corner and pipe a cross on each bun. Place the casserole into the preheated oven and bake the loaf for 30 - 35 minutes until well risen and lightly browned.

To make the glaze simmer the orange juice and the honey together in a small pan for 3-4 minutes until it has reduced a little and has a sticky texture. Brush the glaze over the hot baked bun loaf and allow to soak in. Serve the bun loaf in the casserole.

Cook’s Notes:

For better baking results always weigh and measure your ingredients. It is worth while investing in a simple oven thermometer and a good set of measuring spoons.

If you do not have a piping bag you can use a small clear plastic bag with the corner cut off or a triangle of baking paper shaped into a cone.

(Recipe: Le Creuset India)