Martha’s Dark Chocolate & Orange Hot Cross Buns

Here’s a little twist on the traditional hot cross bun. I was inspired by Nicola Lamb’s Tart Tropezienne recipe, which I haven’t stopped thinking about since I made it last month. She cleverly adds wholemeal to the brioche which gives it a wholesome nutty flavour. I’ve kept the bits I loved and swapped out a couple of things; I wish I could say I’m a fan of raisins, but I still get pangs of disappointment remembering the times I mistook them for chocolate chips as a young child. So, I’m doing my younger self justice and switching them for dark chocolate (although – if you’re a raisin fan you can switch them back for the same weight).

Ingredients:
110g wholemeal flour
300g strong white bread flour
20g whole milk, plus 200g
1tsp salt
150g caster sugar
7g yeast
1 egg beaten
70g butter, softened and cubed into 3cm squares
1tsp vegetable oil
100g dark chocolate, finely chopped
Marmalade to glaze (and to serve)

1.      Sieve your wholemeal flour into the mixing bowl of your stand mixer. Keep the fibres remaining in the sieve, place them in a separate bowl and add your 20g of milk, mix and put aside for later.

2.      Add the strong white flour, salt and sugar to the mixing bowl with the sieved wholemeal and mix with the dough hook until evenly distributed.

3.      Add the 200g milk and yeast to a small pan and heat until warm to touch, then add to the dry mixture on a medium high speed.

4.      Add the beaten egg to the mixture and mix for a further 10-12 minutes. Once completed you should have some gluten development forming, which means the dough will have some elasticity but break when stretched. If this isn’t the case, cover for five minutes before mixing again to avoid overheating (which can kill the yeast).

5.      Once you have reached this texture, start adding your butter and wholemeal fibre. Put your mixer on a low medium speed and slowly add the two in tandem, making sure they are fully incorporated before adding the next amount. Once completed the dough should be very elastic and shiny.

6.      Form the dough into a ball, place into a large bowl greased with a little vegetable oil and cover with clingfilm. Leave this in a warm place for 1½ to 2 hours until doubled in size. When my home is cold (which is often is), I put my oven to its lowest setting and then turn off once it reaches the temperature and place my bowl in there.

7.      Take the dough out the bowl (keeping your clingfilm as you will use this again soon), flatten it onto your counter, and evenly sprinkle with the orange zest and chocolate. Knead until t is evenly distributed and divide into 8 balls, approximately 120g each. Roll these tight, trying to avoid chocolate sticking out the dough, and place on a tray lined with baking parchment. Leave a little space between the balls to allow them to expand. Cover with the clingfilm again and leave a further 20 minutes for the final rise, until about doubled in size again.

8.      Preheat your oven to 200°C / 180°C fan and make the cross by mixing 50g flour with a teaspoon of sugar and about 3 tablespoons of water. Add this to a piping bag and pipe the crosses on your risen buns.

9.      Place in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and brush with marmalade. These buns taste best cut in half and smothered in butter and marmalade. They’re best eaten on the day, but can be stored in the fridge and heated in a pan or microwave for use (avoid using a toaster as it can burn the marmalade glaze).