Dried Cherry & Chocolate Hot Cross Bun Recipe by Anneka Manning

Ahh, hot cross bun season is upon us, and there's something oh so comforting about the aroma of these freshly baked, spiced treats, served hot and smeared with butter (of course!).

So with the Easter break fast approaching—why not get into the kitchen and have a go at baking your very own (and if all goes well, perhaps even create a new Easter tradition)? 

In this updated version of the traditional Easter hot cross bun recipe, Anneka Manning, founder of BakeClub adds chunks of dark chocolate and tart dried cherries, making these even more irresistible!

Makes: 12
Preparation time: 25 minutes (+ 1½ hours proving time)
Baking time: 25 minutes 

Bun dough

  • 750 g (1 lb 10 oz/5 cups) bread or pizza flour
  • 55 g (2 oz/¼ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 14 g (½ oz/2 sachets) dried yeast
  • 1 ½ teaspoons mixed spice
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 150 g (5½ oz/1 cup) dried cherries (see Baker’s tips)
  • 75 g (2 ½ oz/½ cup) currants
  • 435 ml (15¼ fl oz/1¾ cups) milk
  • 60 g (2¼ oz) butter, cubed, plus extra, to grease and serve
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract or essence
  • 100 g (3½ oz/⅔ cup) chopped good-quality dark chocolate
Flour paste
  • 75 g (2 ½ oz/½ cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 75 ml (2 ¼ fl oz) water 
Glaze
  • 55 g (2 oz/¼ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water

Method

  1. Put the bread flour, sugar, yeast, mixed spice, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl and mix to combine. Stir through the dried cherries and currants.
  2. Heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until the butter has just melted and the milk is lukewarm. Whisk one of the eggs with the vanilla and add to the milk mixture. Whisk to combine. Add to the dry ingredients and use a wooden spoon and then your hands to mix to a soft dough.
  3. Turn onto a lightly floured bench top. Knead for 8–10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Lightly grease a clean large bowl with a little butter, add the dough and turn to coat the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  4. Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Punch the centre of the dough down with your fist. Turn onto a lightly floured bench top. Knead for 2–3 minutes or until smooth. Knead in the chocolate. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball and place on the tray, allowing room for spreading. Cover with a damp tea towel (dish towel) and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 30 minutes or until almost doubled in size.
  5. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) or 160°C (315°F) fan-forced. Meanwhile, make the Flour paste. Combine the flour and water in a bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Spoon into a small plastic bag.
  6. Whisk the remaining egg and brush the tops of the buns with it. Snip a small hole in the corner of the plastic bag containing the Flour paste and pipe crosses on the buns.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until the buns are cooked and sound hollow when tapped on the base.
  8. Meanwhile, make the Glaze. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and simmer for 1 minute. Transfer the hot cross buns to a wire rack and brush the tops with the glaze. Serve warm, spread with butter.

Baker’s tips

  • Dried cherries are available at selected supermarkets, delicatessens, grocery shops and specialty food stores. You can replace them with good-quality dried cranberries.
  • These hot cross buns are best eaten the day they are made. Alternatively, place in Bread Swag and store at room temperature for 2-3 days. To freeze for up to 3 months, seal in an airtight container. When you're ready to enjoy, thaw at room temperature before reheating or toasting.

This recipe is an extract from BakeClass Step by Step by Anneka Manning (Murdoch Books RRP AU $29.99), photography by Alan Benson. 

BakeClass by Anneka Manning