I always tell my kids that just saying something doesn’t make it true: it’s important to use your own judgement as to whether or not something is as it claims. It’s a good rule that can be applied to most things: friends, family, politicians, advertisements, the internet. Or when my 13 year old daughter tells me she absolutely, definitely isn’t wearing any make up. Even when I tell her I can see the line where the foundation ends and her beautiful young skin begins… Putting a cross on these delicious cranberry and dark chocolate chip buns won’t actually make them hot cross buns, at least not in the traditional sense. Perhaps if I had added cinnamon and mixed spice I would be more convinced as I have no problem adding dried apricots and cranberries to a traditional mix. Somehow the chocolate takes them into a different realm. Next time I make them I will be leaving the crosses off: the main advantage to that is they can be enjoyed at any time of the year, they are not just limited to Easter! The actual making of these buns is relatively quick and simple but because of the various steps and risings in between it helps to find a day when you are either at home or in and out: I started mine at 10am and they came out of the oven at 5pm. If you are afraid they will rise too much while you are out you can always put them in the fridge: they will continue to rise but much more slowly. Recipe Ingredients 500g strong white bread flour 10g salt 75g caster sugar 10g instant yeast 40g softened butter 2 medium eggs 240ml milk 150g dried cranberries 100g dark chocolate chips For the crosses 75g plain flour 75ml water For the glaze About a tablespoon of jam, preferably apricot Method Put the flour into a large bowl and add the salt and sugar to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the eggs, softened butter and the milk to the bowl and mix with a knife, or in a stand mixer using a dough hook. Knead for around five to ten minutes until smooth and silky: the dough will be quite wet. Put the dough into a large oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel or oiled clingfilm.
Leave for around two or three hours until at least doubled in size.
Tip the dough out onto a floured surface. Flatten the dough out and cover with the dried cranberries and chocolate chips.
Knead until the cranberries and chocolate are evenly distributed. Put the dough into an oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel or oiled clingfilm and leave for another hour.
Tip the dough out on to a floured surface and knead briefly to knock out the air. Divide the dough into 12 equal sized pieces and roll into balls.
Place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment, quite close together and leave for about an hour.
Set your oven to 220°C. The dough should be doubled in size and spring back quickly if you prod it with your finger. Make the paste for the crosses by mixing the water slowly into the flour. Put into a piping bag with a small nozzle (or snip the tip off a disposable one) and pipe crosses across the top of the buns.
Bake for around 20 minutes until well browned.