Happy Easter friends! I was strolling through the quaint little country town by my house this morning, and turned a corner to be met by the warm, spicy smell of fresh hot cross buns floating through the crisp air from the bakery nearby. My gosh it was lovely. For me, the start of Autumn is marked by dark and misty mornings, gentle forest rain and a warm hot cross bun, dripping with melted butter, aside a tall steaming mug of tea.
I love this season; there is something enchanting in the air that begs exploration, beckoning me on long wistful walks through the hills to ponder life and dream up new recipes. These Pear and Dark Chocolate Hot Cross Buns are a twist on a flawless classic, but they are wonderfully scrumptious in their own right. Glazed with maple syrup, the little darlings are soft, fluffy and packed with juicy pears and bittersweet chocolate. Amidst lots of family time, I intend on hitting the books hard this Easter long weekend in a feeble attempt to catch up on some pressing study. But today I decided to stop for a while and spend the afternoon baking with my lovely friend Ellie. She’s a devout One Perfect Mess follower, a whizz in the kitchen and a blast to bake with! She’s gone home now though, so I suppose I should start studying, but I sort of want to cozy up on the couch with my bellyful of hot cross buns and watch the rain. Surely I can just hit the books tomorrow…
Pear and Dark Chocolate Hot Cross Buns
Preparation Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 3 hours
Pear and Dark Chocolate Hot Cross Buns, adapted from a basic Donna Hay recipe
- 560 mL full cream milk
- 1.5 tablespoons dried yeast
- 165 g caster sugar
- 500g plain flour
- 450 g wholemeal plain flour
- 4 teaspoons mixed spice
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 75 g unsalted butter, melted
- 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
- 2 firm beurre bosc pears, diced into 1cm cubes
- 250 g chocolate chips
Icing and Glaze
- 70mL water
- 25 g plain flour
- 30 g cocoa powder
- 100 mL pure maple syrup or warmed honey
- Preheat the oven to 40°C/100°F fan-forced to create a warm place for your dough to rise. If you have an alternative warm place, such as near the fire, you won’t need the oven just yet!
- Gently heat the milk in a small saucepan until lukewarm. Add the yeast and 3 teaspoons of the sugar, whisk gently to combine, and leave for 10 minutes to allow the yeast to become activated.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the rest of the hot cross bun ingredients, except the chocolate chips. Pour the milk mixture into the large bowl, and use your hands to combine everything into a sticky dough. Add the chocolate chips once the dough has cooled down a little, and mix to combine.
- Scoop the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead for 10 minutes until it becomes quite elastic. It should be a rather wet, sticky dough, so add a little more flour to your bench as you go to prevent it from sticking to the surface, but try not to dry out the dough too much.
- Place the dough in a lightly oiled oven-proof bowl, cover with a damp tea towel, and place in the oven for 1 hour to rise. The dough should roughly double in size.
- Grease and line a 25 cm square cake tin. Tip the dough out onto the bench and roughly shape it into a square about 1-2 inches high. Cut the dough into 16 squares, then role each square into a ball and pack them evenly into the cake tin. Cover the tin with a damp tea towel, and leave it to rise again for another 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the icing by whisking the water, flour and cocoa powder together to form a smooth paste. Remove the buns from the oven once they have finished rising, and turn up the heat to 200°C/400°F fan-forced. Use a piping bag or plastic bag with a small corner snipped off to form the crosses by piping long stripes across your buns.
- Bake the buns for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown and puffy. Use a pastry brush to immediately and generously glaze the hot cross buns with maple syrup or warmed honey. Leave to cool in the tin for 20 minutes, then lift out, pull apart, slice open and serve warm with butter and tea!
Store the hot cross buns in a cool, dry, airtight place for up to 3 days. Best served on the day of baking.