Soft, fluffy, spiced buns packed with chocolate - these Spiced Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns are the perfect treat for Easter this year! Foolproof & Easy!Intermediate - This recipe involves several techniques (tangzhong, flour paste, glaze). All techniques are simple. Beginners can also make these, just make sure to read the instructions well before proceeding. Metric weight measurements are available. There is a metric / US ingredient toggle button under the ingredient list. I highly recommend following weight measurements as they will provide the most consistent results.
16.75ozAP flour3 cups plus 1 ½ tbsp, measured by spoon and level method
6ozsemisweet chocolate chipschopped a little (or a mixture of your favorite chocolate chips, or mini chocolate chips)
Flour paste for the cross
½cupAP flour measured by spoon and level method
3 - 5tbspwater 45 - 75 mL
For the glaze
3 - 4cardamom pods
Whisk the 2 ½ tbsp of AP flour, with the ½ cup milk (or water) until there are no lumps.
Heat the flour-milk mix over medium heat, while whisking constantly. In a few minutes the flour-milk mix will start to thicken. Keep whisking well, until you have a runny paste. Remove from the heat. The tangzhong paste is now ready. (It should weigh about 130 to 140 g - about ½ cup).
Place the tangzhong in a bowl and cover the tangzhong with plastic wrap, making sure it's touching the surface of the paste. Let it cool down to room temperature before using.
Place the warm milk in your mixer bowl and dissolve about ½ tbsp of sugar in it. Sprinkle the yeast over the milk and stir gently. Let the yeast activate for about 10 - 20 minutes until it looks frothy and foamy.
Flour paste for the crosses (prepare this while hot cross buns are proofing for the final time)
Place the flour and confectioner's sugar in a bowl and whisk together.
Add water, 1 tbsp at a time, until you have a smooth paste that's runny enough to pipe easily, but will not run off the sides of the buns either. (For me, this is about 3.5 - 4 tbsp of water).
If it get’s too runny, adjust the consistency with a little extra flour.
Place the flour paste in a small piping bag, or a ziploc bag and set aside.
For the sweet glaze (make this when the hot cross buns are almost done baking)
Place the honey, water and cardamom in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat until the mixture comes to a simmer, while mixing. Turn off the heat, and let the cardamom infuse into the glaze.
Keep it warm until the hot cross buns are ready.
Hot cross bun dough
Into the mixing bowl with the activated yeast - add the sugar, eggs, melted butter, tangzhong, and vanilla. Mix to break up the eggs. Add the flour, spices and finally the salt.
Mix all the ingredients together to form a scraggly dough.
With the kneading hook attached to the stand mixer - knead the dough until you have a smooth dough (about 2 - 3 minutes). Check the consistency of the dough. It should be very sticky. When kneading the dough at mid speed, the dough should still stick to the bottom, but not to the sides of the bowl.
Knead the dough for a further 10 - 12 minutes. The dough should be smooth, shiny and tacky. When you touch the dough it should feel very tacky, but not stick to your hand.
When the dough is smooth and shiny and well kneaded, you can add the chocolate chips. Knead the dough for a few minutes on low speed until the chocolate has evenly spread through the dough. You can also knead the dough by hand for a few minutes too. When kneading by hand, be gentle and fold the dough over gently without stretching it much.
Place the ball of dough in a lightly oiled bowl, and then cover it with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place, until doubled in size (about 1 hour).
When the dough has proofed, you can use it right away, OR you can deflate the dough, reshape it and refrigerate the dough for 2 - 24 hours. A chilled dough will be easier to shape, but this is optional.
When the dough has proofed, gently press on the dough to remove excess air.
Divide the dough into 15 equal portions. (Weigh the dough and divide the weight by 15. This is how much each portion should weigh. This can be between 73 - 80 g).
Shaping the dough balls
Line a half sheet baking pan, or a jelly sheet pan with parchment paper.
Take each dough portion, and fold over the edges towards the middle. Then pinch these edges at the bottom to seal. Gently roll the ball of dough on your work surface (seam side down) with a cupped hand to shape the dough ball. Make sure the work surface doesn't have any flour to allow the dough to tighten into a smooth ball.
Place each of the dough balls on the prepared baking pan, in a 3 x 5 configuration. Leave about ½ - ¾ inch of space between the dough balls.
Cover the hot cross buns, and let them proof for the final time. On a cold day, this takes me about 90 minutes, and on a hot day, about 45 minutes. The way I test for proofing is by gently pressing my finger tip into a couple of the buns. If the indentation springs back up, then it’s not ready. If the indentation remains, then they are sufficiently proofed and are ready to be baked.
Baking the hot cross buns
While the dough is proofing, prepare the flour paste for the crosses, and preheat the oven to 375°F.
Snip off the edge of the piping bag (make sure the opening is smaller than the desired thickness of the lines that you want to pipe). Pipe the flour paste over the hot cross buns. First pipe along the middle of the buns in one row at the same time (all 3 rows), then pipe across all the 5 rows in the other direction.
OPTIONAL - If you prefer to skip the glaze, you can glaze the tops with an egg wash at this point. Whisk together an egg yolk + 2 tbsp milk, and using a pastry brush, brush the tops of the buns, being careful not to smudge the flour crosses.
Place the buns in the preheated oven and bake for 25 - 30 minutes. If needed, rotate the tray once, halfway through baking.
While baking, prepare the glaze, and keep it warm.
As soon as the buns are done baking (an instant read thermometer will register at 200°F or over when they are done baking), remove the baking tray from the oven, and let the hot cross buns cool for a few minutes.
Brush the warm sweet glaze over the warm buns, and then let them cool completely on a wire rack.
These are best eaten warm or lightly toasted with a little butter. Enjoy!
STORAGE INSTRUCTIONS - Keep the buns in an air-tight container at room temperature for 1 - 2 days. If you want to keep it for longer, transfer them to the freezer for up to 1 month. Egg wash recipe - 1 egg yolk + 2 tbsp milk, mixed together.VEGAN OPTIONS
Use almond milk instead of regular milk.
Instead of 2 eggs, add 1/4 cup apple puree and another extra 3 tbsp almond milk.