Chocolate and pear hot cross buns

Chocolate and pear hot cross buns
Chocolate and pear hot cross buns

This is going off my curriculum a little bit, but it’s impossible to let Easter weekend past without a bit of baking.

I’m not a massive fan of mixed peel, and my husband doesn’t like sultanas so I was a bit stuck when it came to developing a hot cross bun recipe.

I considered an orange/chocolate combo but had pears in the fridge so decided to go for cinnamon, pear and dark chocolate.

I wasn’t going to take any risks with the bun dough, so went straight to Paul Hollywood who I absolutely adore.

I used his recipe for traditional hot cross buns (which can be found at http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2066661/hot-cross-buns) but swapped out the key flavour ingredients and upped the spices.

I was really nervous about making this dough, but it came out beautifully (if somewhat uneven in shape and nothing like Mr Hollywood’s photos) so I’d definitely recommend it.

Straight out of the oven they were heavenly slathered with butter. I converted my husband so must have done something right J

For the buns
300ml full-fat milk, plus 2 tbsp more
50g butter
500g strong bread flour
1 tsp salt
75g caster sugar
1 tbsp sunflower oil
7g sachet fast-action or easy-blend yeast
1 egg, beaten
100g dark chocolate, chopped
2 medium pears, peeled and diced
2 tsps ground cinnamon
For the cross
75g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
For the glaze
3 tbsp apricot jam

Bring the milk to the boil, then remove from the heat and add the butter. Leave to cool until it reaches hand temperature. Put the flour, salt, sugar and yeast into a bowl. Make a well in the centre. Pour in the warm milk and butter mixture, then add the egg. Using a wooden spoon, mix well, then bring everything together with your hands until you have a sticky dough.

Tip on to a lightly floured surface and knead by holding the dough with one hand and stretching it with the heal of the other hand, then folding it back on itself. Repeat for 5 mins until smooth and elastic. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hr or until doubled in size and a finger pressed into it leaves a dent.

With the dough still in the bowl, tip in the cinnamon, pear and chocolate. Knead into the dough, making sure everything is well distributed. Leave to rise for 1 hr more, or until doubled in size, again covered by some well-oiled cling film to stop the dough getting a crust.

Divide the dough into 15 even pieces (about 75g per piece – see Tip below). Roll each piece into a smooth ball on a lightly floured work surface. Arrange the buns on one or two baking trays lined with parchment, leaving enough space for the dough to expand. Cover (but don’t wrap) with more oiled cling film, or a clean tea towel, then set aside to prove for 1 hr more.

Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Mix the flour with about 5 tbsp water to make the paste for the cross – add the water 1 tbsp at a time, so you add just enough for a thick paste. Spoon 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. Bake for 20 mins on the middle shelf of the oven, until golden brown.

Gently heat the apricot jam to melt, then sieve to get rid of any chunks. While the jam is still warm, brush over the top of the warm buns and leave to cool.

Note – I didn’t have any apricot jam so made a sugar syrup made from ½ cup caster sugar and ½ cup water heated in a pan over a medium heat until thickened

Back to biccies tomorrow though…

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