Karen Martini's chocolate hot cross buns

Hot cross buns with orange and chocolate.
Hot cross buns with orange and chocolate. Photo: William Meppem

I have great affection for hot cross buns, especially when they're just cooked and the butter yields to the residual heat. This version is borrowed from my sister Odette, who just happens to be a pastry chef and is married to one of Australia's great bakers. I have tweaked and prodded, as I'm prone to, but I certainly can't take the credit here. Be patient with these buns, as they'll be a little slow to rise when proving, but your forebearance will be amply rewarded.


1 large orange

40g peeled ginger, chopped

7g (1 sachet) dried yeast

230ml warm water

400g plain flour

100g wholemeal flour

50g unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature

35g caster sugar

15g mixed spice

12g cocoa powder

10g fine sea salt

2 drops orange essence or orange oil

60g dark chocolate buttons

50g milk chocolate buttons

For the sugar syrup

100g caster sugar

80ml water

For the chocolate cross

30g plain flour

60ml cold water

10g grapeseed oil

20g cocoa powder


1. Boil the orange whole for 45 minutes, then quarter and remove the seeds and central membrane, leaving the peel on. Blitz with the ginger in a blender until smooth; you'll need about 220g of puree.

2. For the sugar syrup, heat the sugar and water in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves, then set aside to cool.

3. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and set aside for 5 minutes to activate.

4. Place the flours, butter, sugar, mixed spice, cocoa, salt, orange essence and the orange and ginger puree in a stand mixer. Combine on a medium speed with the dough hook, pouring in the yeasted water. Mix for 10 minutes until a soft, smooth dough forms. Add the chocolate buttons and mix for a couple of minutes to combine. Tip the dough onto a bench and rest for 20 minutes.

5. Once rested, divide the dough into 12 even pieces and roll into balls. Place on a lined baking tray about 2-3cm apart, cover with a tea towel and set aside for 2-3 hours until they've doubled in size.

6. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 220C fan-forced (240C conventional).

7. To make the crosses, combine the ingredients in a bowl, then transfer to a piping bag with a small (about 5mm) plain nozzle. Pipe crosses onto the buns, then bake for about 25 minutes until risen and coloured.

8. Brush the buns with sugar syrup as soon as they come out of the oven, then set them aside to cool a little before eating while still warm. To reheat buns, toast them or warm in the oven.

Serving suggestion: I also love these buns toasted, with that little bit of extra crunch, again with the butter barely managing to hold its form as it slips into the bun.