Easter is just around the corner and with it comes the treats we all love – from soft and bready hot cross buns bursting with juicy currants and lightly spiced with cinnamon and ginger, to the childhood classic of chocolatey birds’ nests, piled high with crisp sugar-coated eggs in a pretty pastel palette. Celebrate the long weekend of festivities with a special Sunday lunch surrounded by loved ones, endless chocolate eggs and our favourite springtime treat with a twist – chocolate chip hot cross buns, complete with white chocolate crosses.
2 x 7g sachets dry yeast
100g caster sugar, plus 2 tbsp for glaze
500g strong bread flour, minus 2 tbsp
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp mixed spice
100g chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten
50g unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsp hot water
100g white chocolate
1. Combine the warm milk, sugar and dry yeast together in a jug and put to one side for 15 minutes until it’s frothy and has increased in size.
2. Meanwhile, sieve the flour, cocoa powder, salt and mixed spice into a large mixing bowl. When the milk mixture is ready, make a well in the centre of your dry ingredients and add the beaten egg, vanilla extract, milk mixture and melted butter. Use a flat knife to combine the ingredients, stopping to add the chocolate chips just before it all comes together. Use clean, dry hands to finish mixing until it forms a soft dough.
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter or board and knead until smooth and elastic. Lightly butter a clean mixing bowl and transfer the dough into it. cover with cling film or a clean tea towel and leave to prove in a warm place for 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.
4. Once it has risen to twice its original size, knock the dough back and knead lightly for a couple of minutes until smooth. Divide into 12 equally sized balls and place side by side (about 1cm apart) on a greased baking tray.
5. Turn to oven on to preheat to 200°c and, while you’re waiting, cover the dough with cling film and leave to rest once more – this time only for 20-30 minutes.
6. Once the buns have risen again, bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. In the meantime prepare your glaze by combining the remaining sugar with the water and heating in a small pan until the sugar has dissolved. Once the buns are finished baking, brush them with a few coats of the glaze whilst they’re still hot.
7. For the crosses, melt the white chocolate either in a Bain Marie or in the microwave (melt in short bursts, stirring in between). Spoon the chocolate into a piping bag and pipe across the cooled buns in a cross. You can also use a small sandwich bag, just snip off the corner!
If you’re still feeling up to getting out and about this weekend, even after all the indulgence, check out our selection of Easter events here. There’s something happening to suit everyone!
by Jules http://www.flickr.com/stone-soup