Orange Chocolate Hot Cross Buns

Orange chocolate hot cross buns that are delicious and fluffy. Spiced with orange zest and cocoa powder and a hint of cinnamon.

These orange chocolate hot cross buns are a delicious twist on an Easter recipe classic. It uses the orange flavor of soft hot cross buns and combines it with cocoa found in double chocolate hot cross buns. The result is a beautiful hybrid hot cross bun with the best flavors from both for everyone to enjoy.  

chocolate orange hot cross buns

Orange chocolate hot cross buns

These hot cross buns really come to life from the main two ingredients, orange and chocolate These combine to create great-tasting hot cross buns that while you can make for Easter, you may actually find yourself wanting to bake them all year round.  

What’s in them

  • Orange – Zest from one fresh orange
  • Milk – Full-fat is best
  • Egg – One large egg
  • Sugar – Granulated white sugar
  • Butter – This can be salted or unsalted.
  • Yeast – it can be instant yeast or active dried yeast. Instant yeast will rise faster than active dried yeast.
  • Candied lemon peel to enhance the orange flavor.
  • Flour – All-purpose flour can be used, but ensure it’s one with a protein level of at least 11%. A bread flour can also be used. If kneading by hand, a flour with a higher protein level is easier.
  • Cocoa powder – You can use natural cocoa powder or dutch-processed cocoa powder.
  • Ground cinnamon – Adds that traditional hot cross bun spice.
  • Vanilla – Use a vanilla paste or good quality extract.

Additional extras

The orange chocolate buns are great, but you can kick the flavor up a notch and add in chocolate chips for a double chocolate hot cross buns.

lemon zest and spices and flour in a bowl

Baker’s schedule

These hot cross buns can be made all in one day or spread over two.

Day 1

  • Mix and knead the dough.
  • Proof the dough until doubled or place the dough in the fridge overnight to rise slowly.
  • Shape the hot cross buns and let them double.
  • Bake and then glaze the tops of the buns.

Day 2 – if the dough was refrigerated overnight

  • Remove the dough from the fridge.
  • Shape the hot cross buns and then let them double.
  • Bake and then glaze the tops of the buns with an orange juice glaze.
shiny orange hot cross buns

Equipment

It is recommended to use knead the dough in a stand mixer but if you do not have one, then it can also be done by hand too. 

It is quite a sticky dough though so if you are kneading by hand, then just be prepared to knead for a while and do not be tempted to add more flour. A high hydration dough kneaded to perfection is what will make these hot cross buns super fluffy. 

Option 1: Kneading with stand mixer

In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the yeast, milk, and 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Let it sit for 5 minutes and become foamy.

Add the remaining sugar, flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, orange zest, vanilla, salt, and egg. Turn the mixer on medium and combine until it forms a thick but slightly sticky dough. Add in the room temperature butter and keep mixing until the butter has been incorporated.

Keep it mixing until the sticky dough starts to strengthen and come together and pull away cleanly from the sides of the bowl. This can take around 15 minutes. Proper gluten development will allow you to stretch the dough so thin you can almost see through it.

Pull the dough out of the bowl onto a clean workbench and flatten it out. 

Form the dough into a ball. Place the dough ball into a clean bowl and cover it with a lid or plate, or a damp tea towel, and let it proof in a warm spot for 1.5- 2 hours until doubled in size. 

If making overnight orange chocolate hot cross buns, the dough can be covered and placed in the refrigerator overnight to rise slowly.

a bowl of chocolate bread dough

Option 2: Kneading by hand

Kneading by hand will require a bit of elbow grease.

Add the yeast, milk, and 1 tablespoon of sugar to a large bowl. Let it sit for 5 minutes and become foamy. Add in the remaining dough ingredients except for the butter and mix with a fork until it makes a shaggy dough. Tip it out onto a clean bench to knead it further. Knead in the room temperature butter, a cube at a time.

For a wet dough like this using a slap and fold method is easiest – slap the dough down hard on the bench and then pull it forward quickly, and repeat. Using quick motions can stop the dough from sticking to your hands too much. It will be very sticky but do not be tempted to add more flour. After a while, you will start to feel strength gather in the dough.

It can be tiring so you can take breaks in between kneading, in fact, the dough will respond well to it. Come back to it with clean and slightly damp hands.

After around 15 minutes of kneading the dough, check to see if the gluten has developed enough by using the windowpane test. 

The windowpane test

Let the dough rest for about 5 minutes. With clean hands, grab a small piece of the dough and try to stretch it out slowly without tearing it. It should be able to stretch until it is so thin it is almost see-through. If the dough tears very easily then gluten has not been developed enough and you need to do a bit more kneading of the dough.

Once it passes the windowpane test, form the dough into a ball. Place the dough into a clean bowl and cover it with a lid or a damp tea towel. Let it proof in a warm spot for 1.5-2 hours until doubled in size. 

If making overnight orange chocolate hot cross buns, the dough can instead be covered and placed in the refrigerator overnight to rise slowly.

Shaping 

After the dough has been proofed, it’s then time to shape the dough. 

  • Pull the dough onto a clean bench and cut it into 9 even pieces. You can use a scale for exact measurements. Use your hands to form each piece into a tight ball. 
  • Line a 10×10 inch square baking dish with parchment paper.
  • Place each ball into the baking tray, then cover with a damp tea towel and let them rise until doubled in size.
side by side of buns rising

Baking

Mix the flour, cocoa powder, sugar and water for the crosses, then pipe the crosses onto the buns

chocolate hot cross bun unbaked

Bake the buns for around 25 minutes.

While the buns are baking, mix the glaze ingredients.

The glaze

In a saucepan combine orange juice with granulated sugar. Bring the mixture to a simmer and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Once dissolved, take it off the heat and brush it over the still-warm buns.

glazed orange chocolate buns

Serving and storing

Hot cross buns are always best when served fresh on the day. Leftover orange chocolate hot cross buns can be covered and stored at room temperature for up to three days.

Alternatively, they can also be frozen for up to three months.

For something a little different, why not try sourdough hot cross buns!

ripped open hot cross bun

The cup sizes given are for US cups. Note that these are smaller than metric cup sizes. For best results, use grams.

FAQS

Orange Chocolate Hot Cross Buns

Orange Chocolate Hot Cross Buns

Yield: 9
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Additional Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 45 minutes

Orange chocolate hot cross buns that are delicious and fluffy. Spiced with orange zest and cocoa powder and a hint of cinnamon.

Ingredients

  • 240g (1 cup) lukewarm milk (95-104°F / 35-40°C)
  • 2 tsp instant or active dried yeast
  • 100g (1⁄2 cup) granulated sugar
  • 450g (3 3⁄4 cups) all-purpose flour*
  • 30g (1/3 cup) cocoa powder
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 70g butter (5 tablespoons), softened to room temperature
  • 130g (3⁄4 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Crosses

  • 45g (5 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
  • 10g (1 1⁄2 Tablespoons) cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 45g (3 Tablespoons) water

Glaze

  • 60g (1/4 cup) fresh orange juice
  • 25g (2 Tablespoons) granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the yeast, milk, and one tablespoon of sugar. Let it sit for 5 minutes and become foamy.
  2. Add the remaining sugar, flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, orange zest, vanilla, salt, and egg. Turn the mixer on medium and combine until it forms a thick but slightly sticky dough. Add in the room temperature butter and keep mixing until the butter has been incorporated.
  3. Keep it mixing until the sticky dough strengthens, comes together, and pulls away cleanly from the sides of the bowl. This can take around 15 minutes. Proper gluten development will allow you to stretch the dough so thin you can almost see through it.
  4. Pull the dough out of the bowl onto a clean workbench and flatten it. Add in the chocolate chips and gently work them into the dough.
  5. Form the dough into a ball. Place the dough ball into a clean bowl, cover it with a lid or plate or a damp tea towel, and let it in a warm spot for 1.5- 2 hours until doubled in size. If making overnight orange chocolate hot cross buns, the dough can be covered and placed in the refrigerator overnight to rise slowly.

Kneading by hand

  1. Add the yeast, milk, and one tablespoon of sugar to a large bowl. Let it sit for 5 minutes and become foamy. Add the remaining dough ingredients except for the butter and chocolate chips and mix with a fork until it makes a shaggy dough. Tip it out onto a clean bench to knead it further—Knead in the room temperature butter, a cube at a time.
  2. For a wet dough like this, using a slap and fold method is easiest - slap the dough down hard on the bench, pull it forward quickly, and repeat. Quick motions can stop the dough from sticking to your hands too much. It will be very sticky but do not be tempted to add more flour. After a while, you will start to feel strength gathered in the dough.
  3. It can be tiring, so you can take breaks in between kneading the dough will respond well to it. Come back to it with clean and slightly damp hands. Once kneaded, gently work in the chocolate chips.
  4. Form the dough into a ball. Place the dough ball into a clean bowl, cover it with a lid or plate or a damp tea towel, and let it in a warm spot for 1.5- 2 hours until doubled in size.

Shaping 

  1. After the dough has been proofed, it’s then time to shape the dough. If your dough was in the fridge overnight, it would be pretty firm. You can let it come to room temperature for 20 minutes before shaping.
  2. Pull the dough onto a clean bench and cut it into nine even pieces. You can use a scale for exact measurements. Use your hands to form each piece into a tight ball. 
  3. Line a 10x10 inch square baking dish with parchment paper.
  4. Place each ball into the baking tray, then cover with a damp tea towel and let them rise until doubled in size.

Baking

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F/ 180 C.
  2. Mix the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, and water for the crosses, then pipe the crosses onto the buns using a piping bag fitted with a small round tip. Bake the buns for around 25-28 minutes.

The glaze

  1. In a saucepan combine orange juice with granulated sugar. Bring the mixture to a simmer and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Once dissolved, take it off the heat and brush it over the buns ars they come from the oven.

Serving and storing

  1. Hot cross buns are always best when served fresh on the day. Leftover orange chocolate hot cross buns can be covered and stored at room temperature for up to three days.
  2. Alternatively, they can also be frozen for up to three months.

Notes

*An all-purpose flour with a protein level of around 11% is best. A bread flour could also be used. If kneading by hand, flour with a higher protein level is easiest.

The cup sizes given are for US cups. Note that these are smaller than metric cup sizes. For best results, use grams.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 9 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 407Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 40mgSodium: 192mgCarbohydrates: 68gFiber: 3gSugar: 23gProtein: 9g

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