These super soft and fluffy hot cross buns are studded with chocolate mini eggs for the ultimate Easter treat. Fragrant with cinnamon and topped with a creamy vanilla custard cross, you won’t be able to stop at just one.
I’ve discovered that mini eggs are a bit of an Easter staple in the UK. And they ARE very cute. Who can resist little pastel-coloured, crispy-coated morsels of milk chocolate? Here, I’m combining them with another Easter staple – hot cross buns.
Hot cross buns are traditionally served on Good Friday and made with dried fruit, although alternative hot cross buns are becoming more and more popular. Not everyone likes dried fruit in these lovely spiced buns, but I don’t know who doesn’t like these chocolate studded, super soft, cinnamon-spiced, hot cross buns.
These buns are a labour of love, but there really isn’t much hands-on time here. Make your dough in a stand mixer, fold in the mini eggs, form the buns and bake. I’m also giving you two options for the crosses on your buns here – the regular flour and water cross, and a very special vanilla custard cross to up the luxurious factor even more.
I love using the custard cross because it adds another layer of flavour, while the flour and water version doesn’t taste like anything – but still looks great. Plus, if you make the vanilla custard version, any leftovers are wonderful dolloped onto toasted buns!
Why you’ll love this recipe
- They’re super soft, fluffy, light and DELICIOUS.
- A perfect alternative to traditional hot cross buns for picky eaters or kids.
- Great fresh from the oven, and equally great toasted and served with leftover vanilla custard.
- They freeze well and are quick and easy to defrost.
There are no fancy ingredients here and in fact, aside from the mini eggs, they’re all cupboard staples.
- Mini eggs. These crispy-coated milk chocolate eggs are a serious favourite when it comes to Easter. I don’t know what it is about that crispy coating, but it just makes them taste better than regular chocolate! If you can’t find them, regular mini chocolate easter eggs, a block of chocolate or chocolate chips will work just as well.
- Instant yeast. It’s super important that you’re using instant yeast, rather than active yeast when you’re following this recipe. If you only have active yeast that’s fine, but you’ll need to sprinkle it onto the milk and let it sit for 10 minutes to activate, before using it. If you try to add active yeast straight into the dough, you’ll end up with weird little yeast granules and your dough won’t rise properly.
- Bread flour. This is going to give you a softer, fluffier result, but if you only have plain flour that’s totally fine, the recipe will still work.
- Milk. I use whole milk, but low-fat milk would be fine too. You want it lukewarm in this recipe – 30 seconds in the microwave should do the trick. Check it by sticking your (clean) finger in – it should feel comfortably warm, but not hot.
You’ll also need a stand mixer for this recipe. This is a sticky, enriched dough and it’s hard to handle by hand. You can certainly try, but you’ll have to add more flour to make it workable and it’ll make the buns dense.
If you’re making the vanilla custard cross, you’ll also need vanilla extract, caster sugar and cornflour (cornstarch)
How to make them
Start with the dough. Get all your ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer, then knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough looks soft, smooth and supple and is pulling away from the sides of the bowl. It’ll still be a little sticky to the touch. Cover the bowl with cling film and let the dough rise until doubled in a warm place.
PRO TIP: The time it takes will very much depend on the temperature and humidity of your kitchen. It could take 40 minutes, it could take 1 1/2 hours. I like to take a photo of the dough as I cover it so that I can easily compare and see how it’s going. Watch the dough, not the clock.
While the dough is rising, make your cross mixture (whether that’s the regular flour cross or the vanilla custard version).
Lightly whack your mini eggs (either in their packet or pop them into a ziplock bag) to crush them slightly. Turn your risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape it into a rough rectangle, about 30cm/12″ by 45cm/18″. Scatter the crushed mini eggs all over the dough. Press them lightly into the dough so they don’t move when you fold them into place.
Fold 1/3 of the dough over onto itself, then fold the other end over the top of the first fold. Press the dough together to seal it in place, then rotate it so the shorter side is facing you. Roll the dough up into a rough cylinder, then use your hands to form it into a ball.
Cut the dough into 12 roughly equal pieces – I like to weigh the dough to be precise but you don’t have to. Lightly flatten each piece out, then bring the edges up into the middle and roll it into a little circle. It can get a little messy forming the dough balls, so don’t worry if some of the mini eggs wiggle out. Just push them back in and patch the dough up.
Place each ball onto a small lined oven tray or dish, leaving a little room in between each because they will rise quite a lot. Cover lightly with cling film and let the buns rise again until they’re looking puffy and have increased in size by about 50%. To check they’re ready to bake, give one a little prod with your finger. If the indentation slowly fills and doesn’t bounce back immediately, they’re ready to go.
If you’re using the regular flour and water cross, go ahead and pipe the crosses onto the buns now. Do this slowly so that the mixture can cling properly to the buns.
If you’re using the vanilla custard cross, bake the buns for 15 minutes, then pipe on your crosses, then put them back in the oven for another 15 minutes. If you’re doing a regular flour cross, bake the buns for 30 minutes, undisturbed.
Remove the buns from the oven, then brush them with sugar syrup while they’re still hot. Let them cool for about 15 minutes before digging in while the chocolate is still gooey and gorgeous.
Got a question?
Yes! Any other mini chocolate Easter egg will work well, or just use a regular block of chocolate or chocolate chips.
Like most bread, these buns are best the day they’re baked. However, they’re wonderful when toasted (I love serving them dolloped with any leftover vanilla custard!) which is what I tend to do after the first day. You can also pop them in the microwave for 15 seconds to freshen them up.
You can! These buns freeze really well. I like to pop them into zip lock bags, and then you can just throw them (covered with foil) into the oven to defrost at 160C/320F fan for about 10 minutes. You can also cut them in half before freezing them and then just defrost them in the toaster.
There are a couple of ways you can do this. You can mix the dough, then let it sit for about 10 minutes at room temperature before covering it and popping it in the fridge overnight to rise. Then just pick up the recipe the next day by adding the mini eggs, shaping and baking. The buns may take a little longer to rise the second time because the dough will be cold. You can also pop the shaped buns into the fridge, before the second rise. Cover them and pop them into the fridge overnight (don’t leave them for more than 24 hours). Then you can bake them straight away.
Why is the recipe in grams?
Baking is all about precision, and weighing your ingredients using a digital scale is really the best way to do this. It’s just too easy for a cup measurement to be inconsistent – depending on how you pack in your flour, butter or sugar.
To guarantee you get the same results as I do in this recipe, you really do need to use a scale. You can buy them cheaply and you’ll find them SO useful. I use this digital scale from Amazon.
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If you make these hot cross buns, I’d love to hear from you! You can leave me a comment below.Print