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Monday, April 18, 2011

Chocolate Hot Cross Bun - not your traditional but it is so good

In Australia, Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns seems to stand side-by-side with the traditional ones with spices, sultana and peels. In most instances, it seems to outsell the traditional.

And I am not surprised. Who doesn’t like chocolate? It’s hardly anyone. Sure, chocolate chip Hot Cross buns might not be the traditional. But, hey...things evolve and develop...and here you go, Hot Cross Buns with chocolate chips, genius.

I made double batches of Hot Cross buns on the weekend, the traditional (as the redemption to the traumatised batch last week) and the chocolate. The recipe for chocolate’s is largely similar to traditional. I also added cocoa powder into the bread dough for extra chocolate flavour.

I didn’t use the mixed spice (sorry, the Hot Cross bun hard-core). I used crushed cardamom and cinnamon instead. Reading Flavour Thesaurus book by Nikki Segnit about flavour pairing made me want to try pairing cardamom with chocolate. The books suggested that adding cardamom to chocolate will enhance its flavour and make the chocolate taste rather expensive as a result. Well, that sounded tempting, an interesting way to add flavour to chocolate. I was so curious to find out.
I never cooked or baked with cardamom before. The aroma was fantastic and so addictive. Cardamom pods needed to be crushed to get the seeds. I used mortar-and-pestle to crush the pods and grind the seeds. When the cardamom was mixed with the chocolate bread dough, it did smell like an expensive chocolate bar. The aroma was so distinctive, citrusy, very outstanding. That was amazing. I wouldn’t have thought about this pairing if it wasn’t for the book. Now, I am thinking about cardamom scented chocolate ganache for macarons. Well, not until the oven is fixed anyway!

Cardamom pods were crushed and grinded

Even though I love cardamom and have it frequently with Indian dessert, I believe it is an acquired taste. I encourage you to give it a go. If not, you can replace the cardamom with more cinnamon powder.

I used Dutch cocoa powder in the recipe (and it was my first time using it, I usually buy cocoa powder from the supermarket, not specialty store). The flavour was so much more intense than the usual cocoa powder. Now, I will never go back to the usual cocoa powder again.

I also included the sourdough starter in the recipe. Again this is optional. The starter didn’t help with the rising much, if at all. It was there to add flavours to the buns. And indeed, it added the complexity to the flavour and I can’t detect any acidity of sourdough at all. Without trying to be overly excited, these buns were the best chocolate Hot Cross buns I ever had. They were soft and sweet, with fantastic citrusy aroma from cardamom. They were so addictive.

If you don’t use sourdough starter, increase the amount of flour and milk by 70 grams each.

If you don’t use cardamom, increase the amount of cinnamon powder by 1 teaspoon.

I used my homemade apricot jam mixed with water for the glaze instead of sugar syrup.

Chocolate Hot Cross Buns
Adapted from Jeffrey Hamelman’s Bread: a Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipees

Makes 12 buns

IngredientsOverall FormulaBaker’s Percentage
Bread Flour377 g100%
Cocoa Powder15 g4%
Milk120 g32%
Water70 g19%
Butter57 g15%
Sugar66 g18%
Cinnamon Powder1.5 g0.5%
Salt3 g1%
Egg60 g16%
Chocolate chips 75 g20%
Cardamom seed1.5 g0.5%
Yeast7 g2%
Total Weight853 g228%

Bread flour 37 g
Milk 120 g
Sugar 9 g
Yeast 7 g, instant dry (2 ¼ tsp)

Final dough
Mature sourdough starter 140 g (at 100% hydration, water:flour, 1:1)
Bread flour 270 g
Cocoa powder 15 g (preferably Dutch cocoa powder)
Butter, soft 57 g
Egg 1 egg
Sugar 57 g
Salt 3 g (1/2 teaspoon)
Cinnamon powder 1.5 g (1 teapoon)
Crush cardamom seeds 1.5 g (1 teaspoon), optional (if not using, add 1 more teaspoon of cinnamon powder into the recipe)
Sponge 173 g (all of the above)
Chocolate chips 75 g (I used Ghiradelli semisweet choc chips)

Crossing paste
All-purpose flour 35 g
Milk 35 g
Cocoa powder 2 teaspoons
Sugar 15 g

Apricot jam 2 tablespoons
Water 2 tablespoons


Sponge: Mix yeast into the milk, add flour and sugar and mix until thoroughly incorporated and smooth. Cover with plastic wrap or plastic bag and leave at room temperature for 30-40 minutes. The sponge will grow about 3-4 times of its original height. Desired sponge temperature is 26C, which means you will have to warm the cold milk up a little.

Mixing: Mix soft butter, flour and cocoa powder together until roughly combined. Add eggs, sugar, salt, cinnamon and cardamom and mix them altogether. Then, add the sponge and starter and mix until the dough ball is formed.

Knead until medium gluten development is achieved (that the dough can be gently stretched into a thin sheet without tearing). It would take approximately 6 minutes on second speed if using mixer, or 15 minutes mixing by hand.

Add the chocolate chips and mix until these are evenly distributed throughout the dough.

Bulk fermentation: 1 hour – 1.5 hour, with a light fold after 30 minutes.

Dividing and shaping: Divide the dough into twelve 70-g pieces. Shape the pieces into rolls and place them inside baking tin. The dough should line in an even configuration. Leave spaces between each buns as the buns will expand during proofing and baking. Cover the tin of buns with a plastic bag to prevent surface drying out.

Final fermentation: About 1 hours.

Crossing paste: Make the crossing paste while the buns proof. Mix sugar, flour  and cocoa powder together. Add milk and mix until it is well combined and become a smooth paste. Fit a piping bag with a 0.5-cm round tip. Pipe crosses on to the buns, starting from left to right for each row, and turn the tin 90 degree to continue with other direction for the cross.

Chocolate crossing paste in the middle picture

Glaze: Mix apricot jam and water together and strain to a bowl. Alternatively, you can also use simple sugar syrup as a glaze (mixing one part water and one part sugar in a saucepan, and boil and simmer for 5 minutes)

Baking: Bake the buns at 220c for 14 to 16 minutes. Brush hot bun with the glaze.

Submitting this post to YeastSpotting.


  1. You are a very talented cook and baker Sue. I love your blog and always learn plenty from it as you explain everything so well. These buns look so good I can almost smell them! Do you find that now the weather is cooling down that it takes more time to prove the dough? (I am from Melbourne too and I know that we can get 4 seasons in one day at times.)


  2. Thank you for the complements, Tracey. That was very sweet:)

    The buns smells so dangerously good...

    Funny you mentioned about the weather, I am updating my baking diary and drafting the next blog entry about the other bread made last weekend, and one of the topic is the desired dough temperature. I was a bit slack with the dough temperature when Melbourne weather was sitting around 20-22c and I found my dough was also slack to ferment as a result.

    I now needed to get back to habit of measuring temperature for all ingredients to get to the desired dough temp, together with impovisation of proofing environment. It wasn't too bad last weekend, though it took slightly longer to fully dough fermentation and proofing the bread.