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17 April 2014

Bank holidays were made for baking. Lazy mornings, sunny kitchens and happy people ready to fill their tums with hot cross buns.

At the risk of committing blasphemy to the baking gods, this writer is not a lover of dried fruit or mixed peel. Is it just me who would rather more bun and less currant? Well if you're in agreement...then you're also in luck. very own chocolate and orange hot cross buns. Out with the sultanas and peel, in with generous handfuls of dark and white chips and bundles of sunny orange zest. I've done my best to keep the purists happy too - there's cinnamon and crosses keeping these babies 100% Easter friendly. Just like the easter bunny, these do take their sweet time. But boy are they worth the wait.

500g strong white bread flour
10g fast-action yeast
10g salt
80g caster sugar
300ml milk
50g butter
2 eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
zest of 2 large oranges
100g dark chocolate chips
75g white chocolate chips 
2 tbsp marmalade
100g icing sugar
juice 1/2 orange

Weigh the flour into a large mixing bowl, then add the yeast to one side of the bowl, and the salt and the sugar to the other. Seperately heat the milk until it is warm through, then add the butter to the milk, stirring to melt. Tip the milk into the flour mix, and crack in the eggs. Using your hand, turn the contents to mix, and continue mixing until the mixture is smooth and all the flour has been picked up. 

Tip onto an oiled surface, and knead for 10 minutes, until the dough is soft, stretchy and has stopped being sticky. Lightly oil a clean bowl, add the dough and leave to rise (covered with a clean tea towel) for 1-2 hours. 

Once the dough has doubled in size, sprinkle the cinnamon and a little flour onto a work surface, and tip the dough on top. Press inwardly to knock out all of the air, then add the zest and chocolate. Knead until all the filling is evenly incorporated, then return to the bowl, and leave to rise for a further 1-2 hours. 

Line a baking tray with parchment once the dough has doubled in size. Divide into 12 even sized balls (i weigh the dough in full to ensure they are evenly sized), shape and place on the tray. Leave enough room between the buns for them to rise again. Place in a clean bag and allow to rise for 1 hour. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 220C. Once the buns are ready, bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Keep an eye on them and if they are colouring too quickly, cover with foil for the remainder of the bake. 

Just before you remove the buns for the oven, mix the marmalade with a few teaspoons of boiling water. Take the buns out, and brush with the marmalade glaze. Move to a wire rack, and once they have cooled a little, mix the icing sugar and orange juice to form an icing. Use a piping bag to draw crosses on top of your buns. 

What will you be baking this Easter weekend?

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