Chocolate Cranberry Hot Cross Buns

Printemps 2009
200902031.jpg
food and drink

BY: Anna Olson

Chocolate cake meets bread, and you can eat it for breakfast! These hot cross buns, decadent and rich, are inspired by my family recipe for Easter paska which combines a yeast starter with what is essentially a cake batter.

Starter
3⁄4 cup (175 mL) 2% milk, room temperature
2 tbsp (25 mL) sugar
1 tbsp (15 mL) dry instant yeast
1⁄4 cup (50 mL) regular cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
1⁄4 cup (50 mL) all-purpose flour

Base
3/4 cup (175 mL) unsalted butter, room temperature
1⁄2 cup (125 mL) sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp (10 mL) pure vanilla extract
4 cups (1 L) all-purpose flour
1⁄3 cup (75 mL) regular cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
1 tsp (5 mL) ground cinnamon
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
1 1⁄2 cups (375 mL) buttermilk,room temperature
1 cup (250 mL) dried cranberries
1 cup (250 mL) dark chocolate chips
1 egg whisked with 2 tbsp (25 mL)
water for brushing

Icing
10 tbsp (150 mL) icing sugar, sifted
2 tbsp (25 mL) cocoa powder, sifted
1 tbsp (15 mL) water

1. For starter, stir all ingredients together and set aside while preparing base.

2. For base, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, blending well after each addition. Stir in vanilla.

3. In a separate bowl, sift flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon and salt. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, blending well and scraping the bowl after each addition. Stir in starter and add dried cranberries and chocolate chips (dough will be wet and sticky). Place dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise, refrigerated, overnight.

4. On a lightly floured surface, turn out dough and divide into 8 pieces. Shape each piece into a round, and place 4 into each of 2 greased 9-inch (2.5-L) cake pans. Cover lightly and let rise 1 hour.

5. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).

6. Brush buns with egg mixture and bake for 50 minutes (as the buns bake, they will create a cross shape as they rise and press against each other). Let buns cool completely in the pan.

7. For icing, beat icing sugar, cocoa powder and water until thick. Pipe across over each bun (or over the cross seam that has been created) and store buns in the pan.

Makes 8 large buns