Easter is a time of year with varying significance for different people. As we’re not a religious family, since my kids were little I’ve tried to make it a time for creativity and celebration, not just chocolate.
When they were younger we would get together with some of our special friends and make a simple craft project with the kids, like dying eggs with beautiful colours, making felted eggs or creating papier mache baskets using pretty paper. There was always something delicious to eat and precious memories were made.
But today the creativity has been all mine as I’ve found myself dreaming lately of the sublime combination of fresh figs and dark chocolate, tucked away inside a fluffy, orange-scented bun, it’s top glistening with honey. My inspiration was spot on this time (yay!) and these buns have turned out to be truly scrumptious whilst being a healthier alternative to commercially produced buns with their refined flour and sugar, emulsifiers and preservatives. Best of all they’re made with love.
You could make them as an Easter weekend treat as I have today, or any time you have fresh figs on hand – just leave off the cross and enjoy xo
Fig & Chocolate Spelt Hot Cross Buns – makes 9
- 1 cup of full cream milk
- ¼ cup rice malt syrup
- 1 ¼ tsp dried yeast
- 400 g wholemeal spelt flour
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- ½ tsp mixed spice
- 20 g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
- Zest of an orange, finely grated
- 100 g dark organic fair-trade chocolate, roughly chopped (I used 70% cocoa, but you could use a higher or lower percentage depending on the sweetness you want)
- 5 small-medium fresh figs, chopped into 2 mm pieces
- 2 tbsp plain white flour
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 tsp honey, warmed
First of all grease a 20 x 20cm square tin.
Put the milk and the rice malt syrup into a small saucepan and heat gently, stirring until the syrup has dissolved into the milk. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly to lukewarm. Add the yeast and whisk with a fork, then set aside while the yeast activates and bubbles form on the surface.
In large bowl, combine the flour, salt and mixed spice, then rub through the butter using your fingers. When the mixture has a fine consistency, stir though the orange zest before making a well in the centre.
Pour in the milk mixture and use either a stand mixer on low or your hands to bring together into a smooth dough.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and roll out to a long sausage shape, then cut into 9 evenly sized pieces.
Working with one at a time, take each piece of dough and press it out using your fingers into a long strip about 5cm x 25cm. Take a spoonful of the chopped fig (equal to about half a fig) and spread it over the piece of dough, avoiding the edges and ends. Sprinkle some chocolate over this (it can help to tip your chocolate out onto a plate and divide into 9 portions so you have an even amount in each bun).
Starting at one end, gently roll the strip of dough up, enclosing the fig and chocolate inside and pinching the edges shut with your fingers as you go. Seal at the end and curve the edges under slightly so that you have a smooth round surface on the top of your bun. Place in the prepared tin with the seam underneath.
Repeat with the other pieces of dough until you have all the buns evenly placed in the tin. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel (you don’t want them to dry out) then place in a warm spot to rise for about an hour or until they have doubled in size and filled the tin.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C. Prepare the mixture for the cross by combining the white flour and water in a small bowl until you have a smooth paste. Scrape out into a piping bag. When the buns have risen, snip the corner of the piping bag and carefully pipe crosses over the top of the buns.
Pop into the oven for 20 minutes or until a deep golden brown colour. They will make a hollow sound when tapped, when they are done. Remove from the oven, brush the tops with the melted honey, then allow to stand in the tin for a further ten minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.
Enjoy at once or allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container to serve later.