This time last year I was in Sydney. I spent Easter with artist Chris Chun, and had the task of bringing home hot cross buns after I went out and about visiting the city. I wanted something to remind me again of that fantastic experience, so I looked for a recipe. One of the great things about working for someone who has a chef (and an Australian one to boot!) is that I can get cooking tips and advice rather easily, and of course recipes. This recipe for Hot Cross Buns with chocolate and figs, comes from young Western Australian chef Tess Williams. It’s a wonderful non-denominational treat for any time of the year, although I’m sure a great many of us associate it with Easter! I hope you’ll push up your sleeves and make these to share with friends and family this weekend, or eat all on your own– whichever makes you happiest! –Kristina
CLICK HERE for the full recipe after the jump!
About Tess: Chef Tess Williams grew up in Perth, where she began cooking school at age 14. Her first apprenticeship was just two years later. Since then, she has worked at Perth restaurants Balthazar and Soda, with a bit of travel in between to Broome in north west Australia, and New Zealand. Before moving to Rome to work, she traveled through India and Nepal, and before she takes up her next job in London she will travel Europe. Having grown up in a vegan household, Tess loves to develop vegan recipes.
Why Tess chose this recipe: Hot cross buns are the best memory of easter for me, better than the chocolate because you could eat them for weeks before and weeks afterwards. When I was still young a friend’s mum made chocolate hot cross buns and I loved them. Hot cross buns are good any time of the year, you can take them away with you in your purse for a quick snack on the go and the chocolate makes them a nice treat. I love figs and think they go great with chocolate so that’s what I added to my bun dough.
Note from Tess: Once you get the dough right you can use more traditional flavourings like glazed citrus zest, mixed dried fruit like currants, sultanas, raisins and anything you want really.
This is a basic sweet dough recipe from the popular Australian Women’s Weekly magazine that Tess has adapted for her own tastes.
14g dried yeast (30g fresh yeast)
1/2 cup warm water (120ml), plus 1/3 cup (80ml) on hand for later
1 tbs cinnamon (15g)
500g strong plain flour (4 cups)
40g butter cubed (3 tbs)
100g chocolate buttons chopped into 1cm pieces (3.5 oz)
100g dried figs, stems removed and cut into 1cm dice (3.5 oz)
2 tbs castor sugar (30g)
¼ cup flour (30g)
¼ tsp sugar (a big pinch)
Just enough water to create a thick paste
1.5 tbs sugar
1 tsp gelatine
1 tbs water
For the buns: In a medium sized bowl, place yeast, 2 tbs of the flour, 1 tbs of the sugar and 1/2 cup water and stir well, leave for 10 min for yeast to activate in a warm place. It should start to foam and bubble, if not start again because the yeast is dead.
Sift, flour and cinnamon into large bowl with the sugar, rub in the butter, stir in the chocolate and the dried figs. Make a well in center and pour in the yeast mixture and add up to 1/3 cup water to make a soft dough. turn out onto bench and knead for five minutes or until smooth , add more flour, a tablespoon at a time if the dough is too sticky. Allow to rest covered in bowl till doubled in size.
Once the dough has double in size, knead it to knock out air, divide into 12 portions and roll into buns. You might use a scale to weigh the dough, and then use a scale to weigh each individual ball of dough so that your buns are more or less the same size. Put buns on a lightly greased baking tray so they just touch each other. Leave covered to proof for 20 minutes or till doubled in size (you could make a braided loaf, roll into a sausage, divide into three and braid into a loaf then bake)
For the crosses: Make a paste with 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 tsp sugar, and just enough water until the paste is thick but pipe-able. Spoon into a piping bag, or a plastic baggie with the corner cut off, and pipe across buns. Instead of piping on crosses, you could simply score crosses into the tops.
Bake at 400F for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
For the glaze: Put 1 1/2 Tbs sugar and 1 tsp gelatine into a small pan with 1 tbs water and stir over heat till dissolved, brush over hot buns and leave to cool.
Photography: Kristina Gill. Fig and chocolate bowl by Karin Eriksson, salad plate by mud australia, butter dish by Sabon. Tea cup, saucer, and butter spreader fromVintage Heaven, vintage cutting board from flea market.