Orange and Dark Chocolate Hot Cross Buns

These brilliant buns take some time, but are worth it. They’re simply superb: tasty, flavoursome, firm but light & fluffy and packed with “good stuff”. They uphold the tradition of this great Easter bake, while offering “something extra“.

Makes: 12 large buns, maybe 15 smaller ones

Time: 5 minutes the night before. On the day initial prep: 30 min. First prove: 60 – 75 min. Second hands-on: 10 min. Second prove: 60 min. Shaping into rolls: 15 min. Third prove: about 40 min. Adding crosses: 15 min. Baking: 20 – 25 min. + cooling time. Glazing: 10 min.

Level: Not difficult, but you need to be well organised

Need: A stand mixer makes things a lot easier, but it’s not essential.

Ingredients for the buns

  • 75g/2½oz sultanas (marinated in orange juice)
  • 300ml/10fl oz milk 
  • 50g/1¾oz butter
  • 500g/1lb 2oz strong bread flour
  • ½ tsp orange extract/flavouring (optional)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 75g/2½oz  caster sugar
  • 7g sachet fast-action or easy-blend yeast
  • egg , beaten
  • 1 – 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 50g/1¾oz mixed peel
  • 1 large orange
  • 100g/3½oz   dark chocolate chips

For the crosses

  • 75g/2½oz  plain flour 
  • 50ml/1¾fl oz water (or orange juice)
  • Orange food colouring (optional)

For the glaze

  • 3 Tbsp marmalade or apricot jam/glaze
  • A little orange juice


Pre- Put 75g sultanas in a bowl and cover with orange juice to marinate – ideally overnight.

1.  Bring 300ml milk to the boil, then remove from the heat and add 50g butter. Leave to cool until lukewarm. Meanwhile, put 500g strong bread flour, 1 tsp salt, 75g caster sugar and a 7g sachet fast-action yeast into a bowl and mix. (NB Keep the salt and yeast apart before mixing.)

2. Make a well in the centre and pour in the warm milk and butter mixture with ½ tsp orange extract (if using). Add the beaten egg and mix well then bring everything together with your hands until you have a sticky dough – or mix in a stand mixer.

3. Either use a stand mixer with a dough hook or tip out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until a smooth ball forms. Put the dough ball into a lightly oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise in a warm place for about an hour or until doubled in size.

4. With the dough still in the bowl, sprinkle on the ground cinnamon and fold it in, punching down the dough as you do so. Next, tip in the 75g marinated sultanas*, 50g mixed peel, the zest from an orange and 100g chocolate chips. Knead into the dough, making sure everything is well distributed. Re-cover the bowl and leave for the dough to rise again, until doubled in size – about an hour, depending on room temperature.

* The sultanas will probably be very wet; remove the excess moisture using kitchen paper.

5. Weigh the dough then divide it into 12 – 15 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth bun on a lightly floured work surface. Arrange the buns on two baking trays lined with parchment, leaving enough space for the dough to expand. Put the trays inside large plastic bags (white kitchen bin liners are ideal), then set aside to prove for 1 hour more.

6. Heat oven to 220°C / 200°C fan / 425°F / gas 7.

7. Mix 75g plain flour with about 5 tbsp water (or orange juice) to make the paste for the cross – add the liquid gradually, so you add just enough for a thick paste.* Make sure there are no lumps then spoon the mixture into a piping bag with a small nozzle. Pipe a line along each row of buns, then repeat in the other direction to create crosses.

* If you want a coloured cross add a small amount of orange food colouring.

9. Bake for about 20 mins on the middle shelves of the oven, until golden brown. Check half way through and turn the trays if necessary for an even colour. You might also need to turn your oven down or cover the buns with foil if they look likely to over-darken. When baked, leave on the trays for a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack.

10. Glaze the buns while they are still warm. Heat 3 – 4 tbsp marmalade or jam with a little orange juice, then sieve to get rid of any chunks. Brush the glaze carefully over the top of the warm buns and leave them to cool on a wire rack.

NB Take care not to brush hot jam over any exposed chocolate chunks or it will leave smears of chocolate over the buns.

Gallery 1

Gallery 2

I hope you give these lovely hot cross buns a try. If you want more bread recipes click this link.

Below are some quite different breads that I think will interest you:

Blueberry and Cinnamon English Muffins

Garlic Boxty Bread

Lemon, Honey and Poppy Seed Rolls

Cheese and Onion Soda Bread

Whatever and whenever you bake…

Happy Baking